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  • 2018 Lexus RC 350 F-Sport

    Posted on October 5th, 2018 ninarussin

    Personal Sport Coupe

    By Nina Russin

    2018 Lexus RC

    The Lexus RC 350 bridges the gap between sports cars that need to live at the track and sporty coupes that can also serve as daily drivers. With a 311-horsepower V-6 engine and eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, the nimble RC sprints from zero-to-sixty in 5.8 seconds. Available all-wheel drive means the RC can live in four-seasons as well.

    Base price for the RC 350 RWD is $43,570, excluding the $995 delivery charge. Options on the test car include a F-Sport package adding special wheels, summer performance tires, blind spot monitoring, thin-film transistor instrument cluster, heated and ventilated front seats, driver’s seat memory, and adaptive variable suspension; fog lamps, triple-beams LED headlamps, Mark Levinson audio system, navigation, premium exterior finish, orange brake calipers, Torsen limited-slip differential, power moonroof, variable gear ratio steering and cargo net. Final MSRP is $57,988.

    Test drive in Southern Arizona

    2018 Lexus RC

    Over the past week I drove the RC 350 F-Sport around the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area as well as the east valley cities of Chandler, Tempe and Gilbert on both surface streets and highways. Some unusual weather thanks to the remnants of a tropical storm brought heavy rain, with some breaks of sunshine. In rain and shine, the RC delivered confident performance, proving that this is a car that can work as its owner’s only vehicle.

    Flare yellow exterior, along with the F-Sport’s 19-inch alloy wheels make it hard not to take a second look. The RC is a head turner. While Lexus’ spindle grille continues to draw mixed reviews, it works well with the overall design of this car, with wrap-around front headlamps that connect the front end to a sharply-raked aero profile and rear end with a short decklid and integrated spoiler. Functional air vents near the wheels add to the coupe’s sporty character, while the optional orange calipers are a nice dress-up for the wheels.

    As with most two-plus-twos, the rear seats are primarily a nod to insurance companies, although they can hold a couple of extra passengers in a pinch.

    2018 Lexus RC

    Drivers can use the eight-speed dual-clutch transmission in pure automatic mode or shift manually using paddle shifters on the steering wheel. The transmission works quite well in automatic- the dual clutch setup offering crisper, more precise shifting. The V-6 engine delivers robust acceleration off the line and in the 20-50 mile-per-hour range drivers use to merge onto the highway.

    Variable gear ratio steering on the F-Sport model utilizes an on-board computer to changes ratios for quicker steering response. The electric power steering unit delivers plenty of assist at slower speeds for maneuverability while producing a pleasantly heavy feel and excellent on-center response on the highway.

    A four-wheel independent suspension consists of compact double wishbone setup in front with multi-link suspension and coil springs in back. Gas-filled shocks give the suspension firm response without excessive harshness. Ventilated disc brakes front and rear on the F-Sport stop the coupe in firm, linear fashion.

    2018 Lexus RC

    Visibility around the perimeter is good. The B-pillar is far enough behind the front seat as to not interfere with the driver’s over-the-shoulder visibility. Blind spot monitoring adds a dose of confidence is dense traffic. The standard rearview camera eliminates blind spots in back from the coupe’s rather thick C-pillars, and makes it easier to back out of parking slots when surrounded by higher profile vehicles.

    Lexus is known for its quiet interiors and the RC 350 is no exception. There is no wind, tire or engine noise intrusion to the interior. An occasional belch from the exhaust during hard acceleration is in keeping with the coupe’s sport focus.

    Upscale interior

    The RC 350 interior strikes a nice balance between luxury and sport. A touchpad control on the center console eliminates the need for lots of knobs and buttons on the instrument panel and should be intuitive for anyone familiar with laptops. A sliding mechanism allows both driver and front passenger to change climate settings without multiple clicks into the center stack screen.

    Both the gauge cluster and center stack screen are easy to read in bright sunlight and after dark. At a time of year when large temperature shifts tend to make tire pressures change, I found it useful to have actual pressure readings available on the thin-film transistor display.

    Despite its rather low stance, access and egress to the front seats is quite easy. Keyless entry and start saves the driver from fumbling for the key fob after dark.

    While several automakers have shifted from a traditional shift lever to push-button systems, Lexus continues to use a shift lever with gate pattern. Personally, I prefer it over having to figure out a proprietary system that may or may not be intuitive.

    In the Lexus tradition, interior materials and fit and finish throughout the vehicle are flawless.

    Standard safety

    The Lexus RC 350 F-Sport comes with eight airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, pre-collision with pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, intelligent high-beam headlamps, LED headlamps and daytime running lamps, and Lexus Enform Safety and Service connect that automatically notifies police and emergency personnel in the event of a serious collision.

    Like: A stylish sport coupe that turns heads and follows it up with performance.

    Dislike: Expensive option packages add significant cost over the base MSRP.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Lexus
    Model: RC 350 F-Sport
    Base price: $43,570
    As tested: $57,988
    Horsepower: 311 HP @ 6600 rpm
    Torque: 280 lbs.-ft. @ 4800 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: 5.8 seconds
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: Standard
    Bicycle friendly: No
    Off-road: No
    Towing: No
    Fuel economy: 20/28 mpg city/highway

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