AUTO REVIEW: Lexus RC Sports Coupe Brings Sporty Driving and Curb Appeal

(Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS) —
 Lexus RC
The Lexus RC (Lexus/TNS)

Introduced in 2014, the Lexus RC is a modern luxury sports coupe, with bold styling, flexible driving character, and next-generation technology, designed for drivers who value performance and unrivaled craftsmanship.

The RC features a few changes for 2021, including a new, limited-production 350-unit Black Line Special Edition with unique crafted touches. Now standard are the Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert and heated electrochromic exterior mirrors.

A new exterior color, Grecian Water, is available, depending on trim level.

Both the RC 350 ($45,050) and RC 350 F Sport ($49,520) come with standard rear-wheel drive. My F Sport tester added full-time all-wheel drive for $1,610 extra.

Their 311-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 generates 280-foot-pounds of peak torque, features direct and port fuel injection, and produces an awesome sound.

Rear-drive models have an eight-speed Sport Direct-Shift transmission, while AWD models come with a six-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

EPA ratings for my RC 350 F Sport AWD are 19 mpg city/26 highway/22 combined. Driving mostly local two-lane roads and city streets, I averaged 23.4 mpg.

My RC 350’s athletic form and powerful stance featured an impressive fascia with dramatic Premium Triple-Beam LED headlights ($1,160) and strong character lines sweeping back from the headlights to the A-pillars and flowing to the dramatic rear valance and 3-D wraparound LED taillights, creating an enticing exterior.

Lexus RC

Specific F Sport features include the bolstered front heated/ventilated power seats; the Lexus memory system for the driver’s seat, outside mirrors and steering wheel; power tilt/telescopic steering wheel; rain sensing wipers; Drive Mode Select with Sport S, S+, and Custom modes; F Sport suspension tuning; Adaptive Variable Suspension; Dark Gray Streamline trim; aluminum pedals and footrest; F Sport mesh grille with smoked-chrome trim; and moveable speedometer with specific graphics for each drive mode.

Seven exterior colors are available for the RC 350 F Sport, including some with interesting names like Flare Yellow (nearly school bus yellow), Caviar (off-black), and Atomic Silver (very shiny dark pewter).

My F Sport was Infrared (slightly darker than fire truck red, $595) riding on 19-inch split-five-spoke alloy wheel with Dark Graphite finish. The dark glossy wheels and grille trim were striking without being overpowering.

An All-Weather Package ($220) added a windshield wiper de-icer, headlight washers, water-repellent front-door glass, and a fast-response interior heater. I had perfect testing conditions with cold, wet weather. An F Sport Heated Steering Wheel ($150) was also appreciated.

Plush, quilt stitched/perforated, white NuLuxe seating was enticing with the same white on door armrests and console padding. The remainder of the interior was black with white stitching, and linear-textured Dark Gray Streamline trim on door armrests and console control panel.

The front Sport seats with enhanced bolsters were supportive through even aggressive turning. Race-inspired features included an F Sport-badged steering wheel with white stitching, a perforated leather-trimmed shift knob, and aluminum sport pedals.

A combination of performance and luxury, the cockpit displayed stunning craftsmanship and artistry with a signature analog clock and expressive gauges for extra refinement.

The driver and front passenger could control their preferred temperature, while a smog-sensing system automatically switched to recirculation mode if high levels of outside pollutants were detected.

Cabin storage was limited to slim door pockets without bottle holders, two front cupholders, seatback pockets for the rear, and a small armrest bin with a 12-volt outlet, auxiliary port, and two USB ports.

The two rear seats were nicely padded, although legroom was extremely snug at 27.3 inches, and there was only a small, shallow tray between the seat cushions for small objects.

Lexus RC

A Navigation/Mark Levinson Premium Audio Package ($2,725) brought lots of audio and driver-assist upgrades, including an 835-watt surround-sound system, 17 high-efficiency speakers including a subwoofer and Clari-Fi technology, machined-aluminum control knobs, a 10.3-inch split-screen navigation system with multimedia display, Lexus Enform Dynamic Navigation, Dynamic Voice Command, Lexus Enform Destination Assist, and In-dash DVD/CD player. My favorite feature of the navigation system was the weather overlay.

Downloaded music is digitally compressed and loses up to 90% of the original audio details. ClariFi instantly restores the true sound. Dynamic Navigation provides the latest updates, alternate routes, and relevant search results with three enhanced features: cloud-based updates with Dynamic Map, alternate routes based on conditions ahead with Dynamic Route, and points of interest sorted by relevance with Dynamic POI search.

New Dynamic Voice Recognition (introduced to other models in 2018) improves the experience with a broader language library, expanded phrase recognition, and augmented point-of-interest address searches.

Enform Destination Assist provides 24-hour access to a live-response-center agent, using the Lexus app to help locate a business, address, or point of interest. The latest Lexus Multimedia System uses the vehicle’s Data Communication Module and cellphone connection to access the “cloud” and vehicle in real-time.

SiriusXM, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto are supported by the Lexus multimedia system. Lexus Enform 4gb Wi-Fi is available for up to five devices for up to one year free.

Lexus Enform Remote, compatible with smartphone and smart watch devices with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, allows access to lock/unlock doors, start the engine and climate control, check the fuel level and more for up to three years free.

Lexus Safety System-Plus is the most-comprehensive safety package ever for the RC and includes a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane-Departure Alert with Steering Assist, and Intelligent High Beams.

Pre-collision detects a vehicle or pedestrian in the path and automatically prepares Brake Assist to increase brake force all the way to a complete stop, if needed. Radar cruise maintains a preset speed and distance from the vehicle ahead, even in stop-and-go traffic, returning to the preset speed when the road ahead clears.

Lane departure/steering assist monitors lane markings for unintended lane departure, warns the driver, and uses gentle corrective measures to help maintain the correct lane. When radar cruise is engaged, the system will keep the vehicle centered in the intended lane. The intelligent high beam system defaults to high-beam mode, until headlights or taillights are detected ahead, then temporarily switches to low beams.

The newly standard Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert adds to the RC’s list of safety technologies, designed to help pave the way to fewer collisions and better-informed drivers. They help drivers change lanes by detecting vehicles in adjacent lanes and vehicles approaching from either side when backing out of parking spaces or driveways.

Lexus Enform Safety Connect provides help in case of an accident, stolen vehicle, or other unexpected crisis for up to 10 years, sending assistance directly to the vehicle’s GPS location.

Similarly, Lexus Enform Service Connect keeps up with the vehicle’s health, fuel level and mileage, maintenance alerts, and more via email or Lexus app.

Intuitive Parking Assist ($595) uses sensors in the front and rear bumpers to detect objects in the vehicle’s path to help avoid scrapes and dings when parking, using distance displays and alarms, which increase in frequency as the vehicle approaches detected objects.

A power moon roof added $1,100. With $6,450 in options and $1,025 destination charges, my fun-to-drive, attractive Lexus RC 350 F Sport AWD delivered for $58,605.

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