The allure of the sports car is undeniable. They’re sexy, fast, and make you feel like a million bucks, but they’re also expensive.
A luxury sports car is a major purchase, and one that you want to get right. You need to be sure that it will provide you all the amenities you’d expect from a luxury car without it costing thousands every year to run optimally on the road.
The Lexus RC350 is the perfect solution. It’s stylish and luxurious, yet affordable enough that you won’t have to break the bank to own it. Plus, with Lexus’ legendary reliability, you can rest assured you’ll be able to enjoy it for years to come without worrying about the expensive bills often associated with its European counterparts such as Audi, BMW or even Maserati.
The Lexus RC350 was initially positioned to compete against the Audi S5 and the BMW M440i X-Drive. At almost every level, the reality is that it provides a unique driving experience, which has created a new market in which there are no competitors at a similar price point.
The Lexus RC350 provides a gentle, relaxing ride without being too sedentary. It can’t compete with the acceleration times of its more urgent German competitors, but that which it is intended to do, it does very well.
The History Of The Lexus RC350
Lexus RC350 was launched as a two-door executive coupe and was intended to compete against the German Audi S7 and BMW M440i X-Drive.
The RC stands for Radical Coupe.
The car designers used the front of a Lexus GS (L10), the middle section of a 2008 Lexus IS (XE20), and the rear of the 2013 Lexus IS (XE30).
Although the car runs on a shortened wheelbase adapted from the Lexus IS (XE30), the body is extended by including a dramatic front end, including the grill area.
Due to the comparably lethargic engine compared to the Audi S5 and BMW M440i X-Drive, which outrun the Lexus in terms of both acceleration times and top speed, the Lexus vehicle has not ended up as a true competitor of the Audi S7 and BMW M440i X-Drive.
It is born out when you compare the vastly different sales figures of the Audi S5. First revealed in 2013, the Lexus RC350 had only sold just over 45,000 units in America and Canada by the end of 2019. This figure compares to the over 126,000 Audi S5 sales for the same period. (BMW sales figures not available).
What Is The Lexus RC350?
The Lexus RC350 is a two-door coupe initially developed to compete with the luxury Audi (S5) and BMW (M440i X-Drive) models.
The Lexus RC350 received its first significant facelift in August 2018, including an upgraded cabin, new LED headlights, and a more modern taillight design.
In 2019 Lexus added the RC F Track Edition/Performance Package, which balanced performance upgrades against a 190 lbs (80kg) weight reduction. Lexus engineers achieved the weight reduction by installing lighter 19inch wheels, carbon-ceramic brake rotors, a titanium exhaust system, and increased use of carbon fiber throughout the car.
In 2021 the Lexus RC was discontinued in the Australian market because it could not meet the stricter crash safety regulations.
It is not a black mark against the vehicle but rather a commentary on the effect of the Australian safety requirements. The Lexus RC350 meets the safety requirements in all the other markets it is sold in, including the US.
|Dimension||Lexus RC350||Audi S5||BMW M440i X-Drive|
|Length||185.0 in||183.0 in||188.0 in|
|Width||72.4 in||73.0 in||72.9 in|
|Height||55.1 in||54.6 in||54.8 in|
What is the Lexus RC350 Like to Drive?
Each of the Lexus RC models has a unique personality. For this commentary, we will discuss the RC350 model.
Unusual by today’s standards, the 3.5L engine is normally aspirated and has no boost added. The acceleration is refreshingly smooth, with no sudden turbo boost kicking in.
Of course, the acceleration rate is seemingly lethargic compared to its competitors (Audi S5 at 4.2 seconds and the BMW M440i X-Drive at a brain-numbing 3.8 seconds).
While not supercar fast, the 5.7 seconds it takes to reach 62 mph (100km/h) is fast enough.
It doesn’t make a difference if you arrive at the next set of lights a second adrift of a boy racer in his Golf GTi.
Unfortunately, the fuel economy takes a hammering with only six gears to choose from, which is matched with a naturally aspirated V6 engine.
The town MPG of 19 and highway MPG of 26 are disappointing, particularly compared to the competition.
|Audi S5||Town 21MPG, Highway 30 MPG|
|BMW M440i xDrive||Town 22MPG, Highway 31 MPG|
The Lexus RC350 has enough “get up and go” to satisfy most owners in Sport mode.
The steering has two modes to choose from. The natural steering feedback is better than the artificial remote feel of the two competitors.
The RC350 has a relaxed feel at average road speeds as you maneuver through tighter bends. If you push the envelope, you will get noticeable understeer (where the front of the car doesn’t want to turn in).
The RC has the best ride of the three competitors, with the ability to soak up all except the hardest of bumps.
The Interior Of The Lexus RC350
Open the driver’s door, and you are presented with an elegant executive-style interior. Fit and finishes are excellent, and front-seat passengers enjoy a comfortable, stylish, and spacious experience.
The front seats are well-cushioned, offer good bolster support, and cover high-quality, soft leather.
Air temperature is personalized for each front seat passenger with dual-zone controls.
As the Lexus RC350 is a two-door coupe, the rear seats are somewhat of an afterthought, and the occupation of these seats should be confined to young children, vertically challenged adults, and possibly your mother-in-law.
Although the Lexus RC350 is most comfortable when it operates as a long-distance tourer, the trunk space does not match that expectation. Pack lightly, and you will be okay.
All RC models come fitted with a standard 7inch infotainment display controlled by a difficult-to-use knob and a series of buttons positioned on the center console.
Onboard Wi-Fi with 4G LTE, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa integration standard, but Lexus does not offer Android Auto.
The Lexus RC350 Engine
The Lexus RC350 is equipped with three engines, depending on the model.
|Model||Engine||0 – 60 mph time|
|RC 300||2.5 L V6 (176 hp)||7.5 seconds|
|RC 350||3.5 L V6 (314 hp)||5.7 seconds|
|F-Sport 350||5.0L V8 8AT (467 HP)||4.3 seconds|
The F-Sport 350 is the flagship of the RC350 range. This model is equipped with a V8 engine which produces 467 bhp and 389 lb-ft of torque.
The engine connects to all four wheels via an 8-speed Toyota transmission.
Brembo four-wheel power-assisted disc brakes supply braking with EBD, ABS, and Brake Assist.
The Differential provides three modes of torque vectoring: standard mode, slalom mode, and track
An aerodynamic package tunes the airflow through the underbody and has various intakes, aero stabilizing fins, and an active rear spoiler.
What Will You Pay For A Lexus RC350?
The table below includes the MSRP for the RC350 350 model for each model year and selected used cars available in America.
|Model||Year||New MSRP||Current 2nd Hand Value|
The Lexus RC350 was designed to compete against the Audi S5 and the BMW M440i X-Drive, but the result is somewhat different. Whereas the German Marques offers an urgent, high-speed power experience, the Lexus RC350 is more relaxed and calming.
The Lexus RC350 shows its true colors on long open roads when you can relax and watch the world go by. This long-distance tourer is more akin to a sailboat than an urgent wave-smashing speedboat that jangles the nerves. If you want a two-door, long-distance tourer, keep your eye out for a Lexus RC 350.