2016 Lexus RC 350 review: Stiff competition

The spindle grille and wacky headlights are two of the most polarizing styling decisions on this Lexus

Luxury sports coupe quick and fun, not up to 4-Series, C-Class level, yet

From Ikea to a road course, this Lexus almost does it all. It’s consistently on the edge of performing well, but never consistently excels.

Lexus wasn’t selling the RC 350 short with its name — if nothing else, you couldn’t argue against this coupe being radical. And that isn’t necessarily a good thing. The RC might be a little too drastic with its edges. That, combined with the oddly shaped headlights and massive grille, makes the RC 350 an aesthetically polarizing car.

The cabin area is all right as far as luxury sports cars go — not too racy, not too posh. The seats and the infotainment system are the weakest links on the RC 350’s interior. Lexus has managed to go to digital screens on most of its current production infotainment — which would almost be impressive, if it wasn’t so hard to work with. In place of a screen you can touch, the RC has a little touchpad on the center console, like one would find on a laptop computer. It wasn’t very easy to get used to.

The seats didn’t have enough bolstering to keep me in place while ripping around on a track, but they also don’t have enough padding or support to make long drives comfortable. Around town, it isn’t too bad, but don’t expect to take a long haul without feeling the soreness in your back.

Lexus RC 350 review i1

The good of the interior: the stereo and the space. The Mark Levinson setup is crystal clear while still having a good amount of bass response. It’s probably one of the best stereos I’ve experienced in a car. And for a coupe, it has a great amount of trunk space, especially with the seats down. It was enough to stash a dresser and some other Ikea goods, though not much more. Seat space is tight for rear passengers. I wouldn’t put any full-sized adults back there for any length of time.

For a sports car, I think the RC, even the F-Sport, lacks a sporty feel. With just a hair over 300 hp, this thing isn’t exactly a dog, but the 3,748-pound curb weight doesn’t help, either. The 0-60 time is a modest 5.8 seconds: quick enough to be enjoyable, but a far cry from fast. On a track, that weight also doesn’t help it stop. With more power, more brakes and less weight, the RC 350 could be a contender on a race track, I guess that’s the RC F is for.

A base price of $42,500 puts it in the sights of the Cadillac ATS, Audi A5, and a 4-Series BMW, as well as low-grade V8 Mustang. The competition would make it hard for me to go out and buy one, but that is some pretty stiff competition. It also seems like Lexus was trying to please everyone with the RC 350 — making the whole car come a short in places that could have at least made it interesting.


“I do like the way this RC looks, a lot. I may be the only one saying I want a more-aggressive spindle grille. The engine is plenty strong for fun on the street; it just doesn’t have the track chops the BMW or even Audi does. I’d love to get the full-on F model out there though, that seems like it would be a blast.” — Jake Lingeman, road test editor

“When Wesley asked me for my thoughts on the RC350, I responded that I hadn’t driven it. Jake chimed in and said that I had, and an argument ensued. We checked the schedule, and it turned out that I had actually driven it twice. That’s about all you need to know about the RC350.” — Rory Carroll, content director

“The base RC 350 offers the pizzazz of a coupe with enough luxury to merit the label. The F-Sport package adds zing on multiple counts, and it’s worth the upgrade (about $3,500) for anyone who considers themselves an enthusiast. Indeed, the RC 350 with F-Sport is one of the more overtly sporting cars in a class full of good cars — below the ultra-high-performance variants with extra letters in their names, of course. It’s a fine car for novice track-day participants, because there isn’t a wad of excess power to encourage getting in over one’s head. It’s protective enough with the electronics in the Sport + mode, but not so rigid that one end of the car or the other won’t slide.” — J.P. Vettraino, senior editor

Options: F Sport package including F Sport front bumper and spindle grille, 19-inch F Sport wheels, summer tires, blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, TFT instrument cluster, heated and ventilated front F Sport seats, perforated leather steering wheel and shift knob, black headliner, aluminum pedals, power steering column, adaptive variable suspension and Sport S-plus mode ($3,985); navigation system/Mark Levinsion premium audio, navigation-backup camera, remote touchpad controller, Lexus Enform destinations which includes one-year trial subscription, app Suite, voice command and Lexus insider ($2,610); moon roof ($1,100); special paint ($595); intuitive parking assist ($500); dynamic radar cruise control with pre-collision system ($500); fog lamps ($410)


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