FRESH STYLE, SAME IDENTITY CRISIS: 2019 LEXUS RC 350
When the Lexus RC first hit the market nearly 5 years ago, it was the sporty coupe that every Lexus fanboy had been pleading for ever since the SC 400 retired in the early 2000’s after being replaced by a convertible that was found outside nearly every boutique clothing store. The thing is, we knew exactly what the SC 400 was meant to be, a luxury grand touring coupe – nothing more, nothing less. The RC on the other, like a career stuck teenager, it’s still trying to figure out what it wants to be.
Glued together with bits and pieces from other Lexus products, we get a sense of what the RC wants despite their being the hardcore track monkey, RC F. It finds itself following right in the footsteps of the SC 400 as a grand tourer seeing that it is more suitable on the open road rather than being a mountain pass junkie. Continuing to carry over many of its performing chunks, the RC offers three engine variants with a 2.0-liter turbo, naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V-6 or the unruly voyage of the heart pumping naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V-8 – only found in the RC F. The 3.5-liter V-6 made its way into our sampler here and as of 2018, it received some minor performance enhancement getting 5-more horsepower. Officially having 311-horsepower through an 8-speed automatic, we could call the RC quick, but not sports car quick as it gets to 60-mph in 6.5-seconds.
Nestled inside the comfortable confining of this low sunk coupe, there is plenty of grand tourer comforts to be had. The steering has been tuned to support well balanced feedback depending on the Sport, Normal or Eco drive modes selected. The suspension copes with the rough asphalt sending positive vibration into the cabin making the road feel more comfortable and enjoyable. And then there are the seats that not only are supportive but relaxing and make long distance driving a breeze without feeling fatigue.
Freshened in 2018, the RC received a handful of updates from Lexus’ new Safety Sense System that included Forward Collision Warning with Emergency Braking Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Automatic High Beam Assist, and Lane Departure Warning with Lane Assist as well as a new infotainment system upgrade that featured a 10.3-inch display. However, for 2019 the introduction of Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa has now been incorporated for easier functionality and connectivity. Going on 5 years, the interior is starting to show some of the datedness compared to some of the newer brands. While the touch sensitive climate control is still a nifty gimmick, its overall atmosphere is starting to feel archaic.
With prices starting at $41,145 – the RC is a suitable alternative into the premium sports coupe market considering some start nearly $4000 more. With our sampler coming in at $52,670 and can get into the high fifties after going with the F SPORT option, it starts to be a hard bill to bite considering there is a list of competitors like the BMW 4-Series, Infiniti Q60 and Audi TT that carry a new set of fresher updates and styling queue. With no official word on the RC’s future, a set of new headlights, taillights and integrated connectivity into the infotainment system is tolerable for now. But given what the future holds, and the competition at hand, it’s time to step it up a little.
Model: 2019 LEXUS RC 350
Starting Price: $44,075
As Tested: $52,670
Engine: 3.5-LITER V-6
Horsepower/Torque: 311-HORSEPOWER / 280 LB-FT TORQUE
Transmission: 8-SPEED AUTOMATIC
Drivetrain: REAR-WHEEL DRIVE
Fuel Economy: EPA RATED: 20-CITY / 28-HWY / 23-COMBINED
(AS TESTED: 19.1 MPG COMBINED | 28.4 MPG – 200 MILE HIGHWAY)
Fuel Range: 300 MILES
0-60 MPH: ±6.5 SECONDS
Still an attractive design – I wonder how many of these Lexus sells on a monthly basis. There simply aren’t many “full size coupes” left on the market at all.
As of May this year, only 412 units were officially sold. It wouldn’t be surprising if it gets killed off in the next couple of years.