Lexus RC 350 Sport - Driven

Lexus offers this attractive coupe against BMW's 3-series and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe. At $77,321 the RC 350 Sport boasts a 232kW 3.5-litre V6 engine and 8-speed automatic transmission. The closest equivalent BMW by mechanical specification is a 440i at over $100,000. The closest match Mercedes-Benz is an AMG C43, with a faster twin-turbocharged 6-cylinder, for even more money. All three brands offer lower-priced 4-cylinder versions of their coupes.

So on paper, the Lexus RC is good buying.

One feature which stands out over its opposition, is the inclusion of 4-wheel steering. Like all such systems, it only operates by small degrees at the rear. It does give the RC a usefully tiny turning circle and excellent maneuverability at low speeds.

Performance is quite good, but not up to the standards of early F models, which were real blinders. Certainly in Sport mode, the driving characteristics of the car are more overtly sporty, but otherwise it's much more grand tourer than track contender.

The styling – especially in the standout colour of Infrared metallic got a lot of positive comments. It's a dynamic, sculptural shape with nice detailing.

Inside, the RC is a generation behind the competition – and this is where the RC shows its age. At a time when technology rules inside upmarket cars, the Lexus is left behind. There are some novel features, like the sliding instrument which allows you to see additional data including G-Force readings. But the standard instrument setting is a bit plain showing only the basics. There's no Head Up Display and the relatively small central screen is not a touch screen. But not every buyer needs the very latest tech...

The touch-slide heater controls are lovely highlights among the controls. The indicator stalk works the way BMWs did for several years. The Germans learnt the error of their ways, but the RC has the frustrating and counter-intuitive system still…

The quality of fit and finish inside is to the standard Lexus owners expect – exemplary in every way. The car runs quietly and handles road irregularities well. The boot is a decent size and the rear seats flip down to add practical load space.

Unlike the German rivals, Lexus offers few options – the car is well equipped to start with and the Japanese company does not play the game of trying to get customers to double the price of their purchase with add-ons. Standard equipment includes the sunroof, 19-inch alloy wheels, collision warning and mitigation systems, pedestrian avoidance, heated and ventilated front seats and plenty more.

Aside from the indicators, it's an easy car to live with around town, country runs are a doddle, the torquey 6-cylinder engine is very likeable and the value for money in its class is hard to argue.

Copyright: Paul Blank -