Lava Live [COTY2015] : Lexus RC 350 F Sport Drive [review]

By davidkhoo, 01 January 2016

Singapore – Everyone asks, "why not the 'RC F'?" Well, as much as the nat-asp five-litre V8 is a real hoot to drive, we found the RC 350 to be a more balanced ride, especially after sampling both the models on both road and track.

(Click HERE to read our review of the Lexus RCF)

Our test RC 350 comes in a zesty Lava Orange (in case you're wondering, the full name is Lava Orange Crystal Shine) and the optional F Sport package, which not only tarts it up with a sporty bodykit, 19-inch rims and cabin trim niceties, but also includes performance enhancements to steering and suspension – the latter involve an array of boggling acronyms (such as AVS, VDIM, LDH, DRS and so on) that we may or may not get into later, but just know that they all work well and most importantly, seamlessly in response to the chosen driving mode.

The RC 350 is an intriguing alternative to the usual Teutonic cohort, since apart from the top-tier RC F, there isn't another derivative in the Lexus line-up that looks like it, which means it's less of a blind-spot on the roads; moreover, it's probably the only model in its segment to feature a silky-smooth naturally-aspirated V6.

Of course, it's not just about buying a car that stands out, or one that is the fastest or the most high-tech; instead we like to think that the RC 350 F Sport offers owners a combination of everything, including the legendary Lexus reliability and service.

As much as we'd like to keep it to the cars themselves, a large part of the reality of Lexus ownership is the brand's meticulous attention to the customer experience, because it's not about selling-and-forgetting, as the relationship continues to grow long after the sale of the car has taken place.

Lexus makes the 1.7-tonne RC's role clear with the use of the term 'luxury coupe', so don't expect it to be a hard-nosed handler in which to carve up corners with – however, it can deliver a sporty turn when so required.

Unless you've been a rock, you'll realise Lexus has been trying hard to reinvent itself, both in drive and aesthetics, to better appeal to a younger demographic of buyers – it's no longer good enough to continue to pander to its existing owners, product after product after product. After all, the more mature group already knows and appreciates the brand's cars, as well as its stellar after-sales attention to detail.

The RC 350 F Sport features sharp, samurai-style cuts to its body with distinctive 'L' shaped elements in the front and tail-lights, as well as a flat underbody and functional aero elements throughout. The RC's platform is built around a combination of adaptations of the GS' for the front, IS' for the rear and the IS Convertible's for the centre with the requisite rigidity required for a large, two-door body.

Think what you will of the styling, but one thing's for sure, there's a lovely balance to the RC's dynamics that lends itself well to helping one achieve brisk progress, or just wafting around in the city. The steering is light – more hardcore drivers might find it overly so – but Also the creamy gem of an engine isn't afraid of hard work and serves up a linear and seamless surge that we so enjoy in naturally-aspirated engines.

The digital instruments are colour-coded to the Drive Mode Select system; for instance Sport and Sport+ see a red accents for when the red mist descends, while the regular driving mode sees a neutral blue colour theme. The seats are a good fit and not too snug so the comfort on long-haul journeys is never compromised.

On the move, the 8spd auto shifts quickly and slickly through its gears, so you'll never have to give the transmission a second thought during commutes. A flick of the paddle-shifter engages the manual override, which gives the driver better control over the gear-changes.

Like many of the new breed of sportscars from Porsche and Ferrari, the Lexus features an active rear-steer system called DRS, which lets the car take on more nimble, shorter wheelbase driving traits in S and S+ modes, but behaves like the long wheelbase car it is at high speeds for added stability.

All in, the RC 350 F Sport boasts a compelling and balanced blend of style and speed, while the silky-smooth naturally-aspirated V6 is the light at the end of a tunnel that delivers the goods and helps us resist being seduced by the Dark Side of turbo engines.

PHOTOS Zotiq Visuals

Lexus RC 350 F Sport
Engine: 3456cc, V6
Power/rpm: 316hp/6400rpm
Torque/rpm: 378Nm/4800rpm
Transmission: 8spd Sport Direct Shift auto
0-100km/h: 6.3secs
Top speed: 230km/h
Fuel consumption: 9.7l/100km
CO2: 226g/km

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