Road Test: 2017 Lexus RC350 AWD F-Sport

The Lexus RC brings heat to the luxury sport coupe category with a bold design and incredible performance. Our tester, an RC350 with AWD and the F-Sport package, is distinguished by an exclusive exterior design and interior features, and a specially tuned suspension.

The 2017 RC350 AWD F-Sport is distinguished gains new triple LED headlights.

Design
From every angle, the low profile, wide-stance RC350 provides a visual jolt, with the Lexus signature spindle grille a focal point of the design. The F SPORT takes the grille design further, with the upper section’s mesh pattern gradually transforming into an “F” character as it approaches the lower extremity.

State-of-the-art -LED headlamps and separate L-themed daytime running lamps (DRLs) give a unique look and highly effective illumination. Like the headlamps, the rear LED combination lamps

Interior
Facing a four-dial gauge layout, the RC350 driver feels immediately connected to the car’s sporting intent. A 4.2-inch thin film transistor liquid crystal display (TFT LCD) at the center of the instrument cluster presents the full-color Multi Information Display (MID). Linked to the car’s multimedia system, the MID can display vehicle, audio and navigation information.

The Lexus RC350’s steering wheel integrates switches to control the MID, phone function, audio functions and cruise control. The F SPORT adds an array of special features, including an instrument panel inspired by the Lexus LFA supercar, using full-length illuminated needles and needle rings, and a white outer band with inverted colors. The F SPORT pedals and driver’s footrest are aluminium, and the steering wheel and shift-lever knob are trimmed in F SPORT exclusive perforated leather.

The 60/40 split-fold rear seat back can accommodate items up to 59 inches long, such as snowboards. With the rear seats in use, the luggage area can accommodate two golf bags. A dual manual/electric folding mechanism eases access for rear seat passengers and includes a memory function.

Lexus offers four high-contrast interior colors for the RC350 – Stratus Gray, Playa, Flaxen, Black and an additional, exclusive color for F SPORT, Rioja Red. Each features a contrasting stitching color. The RC350 offers two types of genuine shimamoku wood-trim, which adorns portions of the door panels and dash. Shimamoku denotes an intense, layered production technique refined by Lexus that yields an exceptionally deep-looking, polished finish to the wood.

Tech
The automatic climate control system includes two-layer control of internal and ambient air and upper/lower level independent air mixing, as well as independent left and right temperature control. For example, on a colder day with bright sunshine, you can set the upper air mix for cooling while at the same time have the lower air mix set for warmth. The system integrates a pollen-removal filter and clean-air filter with deodorizer.

The nav system offers 3-D city views, and simulated views of approaching highway junctions, the current speed limit, and can automatically display nearby gas stations if the fuel level is low. The Remote Touchpad Interface (RTI) uses smartphone-like touch control, including tap, flick and pinch gestures to control audio, navigation or system information displayed on the center screen, without having to look down.

The Mark Levinson Premium Audio system creates a stunning 360-degree, three-dimensional sonic space through 17 speakers. The system produces 835-watts total output while consuming less power than other systems of similar output. Clari-Fi audio restoration technology, as used in high-end home systems, restores some of the clarity lost during compression for commonly used digital formats. The control panel resembles the simple, clean designs used on Mark Levinson home audio equipment.

With Lexus Enform Remote (one-year trial subscription included), we can remotely view and control certain aspects of the RC using a mobile app for iOS and Android. Functions include remote door lock/unlock; remote start/stop for the engine and climate control; vehicle finder, guest driver monitor and more.

Navigation is accompanied by the Lexus Enform Destination Services and subscription-free Lexus Enform App Suite. Its voice-enabled apps let you search the Internet through Destination Search, make restaurant reservations using OpenTable, get movie tickets via MovieTickets.com, listen to Internet radio (including Pandora, iHeartRadio and Slacker), search business reviews on Yelp and check in on Facebook Places.

 

Performance
The RC350 gets a 306-horsepower version of the V6. With rear-wheel drive, it’s got the eight-speed Sports Program Direct Shift (SPDS) transmission; with all-wheel drive, it’s a six-speed automatic.

Three driver-selectable modes – NORMAL, SPORT and MANUAL (M) engage full torque-converter lock-up from second to eighth gears for manual shifting. Downshifts are made in just 0.4 seconds in M mode, with the transmission’s throttle blipping control matching the engine speed to the gear.

SPORT mode engages G-sensor AI-Shift control, which uses information from the G-sensor on driving status to provide the optimal gear ratio for a more sporting driving experience. The transmission will automatically downshift during hard braking for a corner, hold a lower gear through the corner for greater control, and then give the driver a greater power response on corner exit by selecting a lower gear.

The Lexus RC350 listens to the driver through the Drive Mode Select system. Using a dial on the console, the driver can “dial in” the performance response and the feel desired. Drive Mode Select tailors the vehicle’s powertrain, electric power-assisted steering assist curve and, on F SPORT, suspension response. Modes include NORMAL, SPORT and ECO. The F SPORT adds SPORT S+ mode for maximum handling performance from the Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) and the available Dynamic Handling System (LDH) on the RC 350 F SPORT.

RC350C is built on its own high-rigidity platform, borrowing some key components from the GS and IS sport sedans and bolstered by such manufacturing techniques as laser screw welding and special body adhesives. The driver will feel the net result of all those construction features in the RC’s crisp turn-in and poise through curves.

The RC F SPORT comes with 19-inch wheels with a distinctive 10 twin-spoke design to create a deeply sculptured shape. The RC uses a staggered array, with wider wheels at the rear.

 

Conclusion
The Lexus RC350 AWD F-Sport combines all that we love about Lexus vehicles with the high performance and style of an exotic coupe. There’s nothing that the RC350 AWD F-Sport lacks, and we commend Lexus’ engineers for their incredible effort designing and building this fantastic car.

Summary Scorecard (1-10)
Ride and Handling 10
Braking 10
Powertrain and Fuel Economy 10
Noise 9
Headlights 10
Interior Fit and Finish 10
Seating 8
Visibility 8
Gauges and Controls 10
Infotainment 7
Crash-Avoidance 10
Total Score  93


Facts
Make: Lexus
Model: RC 350
Trim Level: Premium
Engine: 3.5L V6
Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic
Options: F-Sport, Triple Beam LED Headlamps, Navigation, Mark Levinson, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Moonroof

Base Price: $45,175
As-Tested Price: $57,400

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