The Lexus RC 350 F-Sport sits between its big brother, the V8-powered RC F and the RC 350 F. The F-Sport package designation adding further luxury, tech, suspension and some pretty slick wheels.
My tester for the week came with all-wheel-drive, oddly enough the RC 350 AWD gets a 6-speed transmission while the rear-wheel-drive gets an 8. Otherwise, the 3.5-liter V6 pushing power to the wheels is the same, putting out 306 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque. It’s essentially the same V6 you would find in a Toyota Sienna minivan or Toyota Highlander, only the RC 350 weighs 860 pounds less than a Sienna and will only realistically ever carry two people. So it should be fast right?
The RC 350 F-Sport certainly looks fast, but when the pedal hits the floor the car just doesn’t deliver the awe inspiring performance you would expect. Around town, the V6 delivers plenty of fun thanks to it’s torqueiness. But when you get a nice stretch of open road the RC 350 feels a bit anemic. At altitude, the V6 really seems to struggle.
I took the RC 350’s V6 to some twisty roads between 8,500 and 10,000 of elevation and the car seemed to be gasping for air. Even at lower altitudes in Denver, the RC 350 delivered great torque of the line but struggled to deliver the horsepower for quick accelerations at highway speeds. The RC 350 is good for a 0-60 mph time of just under 6-seconds, a Honda Accord 2.0T will edge it out on an on-ramp. This car would benefit greatly from a little forced induction.
As for handling, the RC 350 F-Sport drives less like a car designed purely for speed and more like a Lexus. It’s a plush ride. The body will roll slightly in a tight corner and the steering wheel feels a bit disconnected from the road. If you’re looking for a visceral driving experience, the RC F is going to deliver a more enthusiast oriented ride. That said, on a long winding mountain road, the RC 350 performed more than confidently. It’s a comfortable confidence.
One place the RC 350 truly does perform like a performance-oriented vehicle is fuel economy. Through a week of commuting to and from work and getting the kid to daycare, the RC 350 averaged about 20 mpg. I spend most of the time in Sport mode, it is a coupe stamped with the F-Sport designation after-all. Driving the car in Eco mode just sounded wrong. The EPA rates the Lexus at 19 mpg city/ 26 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined.
While I was initially disappointing with the performance of the RC 350, I actually found myself enjoying the car more and more as the week wore on. I quickly remembered why I sold my STI after a year, high performance is great for the lust stage of vehicular love. When you climb into the RC 350’s insanely comfortable leather clad seats and are surrounded by its luxurious interior, excellent ergonomics, sound-proofing, comfortable suspension and great tech you really start to fall in love. At its heart, the RC 350 is a luxury coupe that’s been dressed up to look a lot more sporting. It’s a damn fine daily driver.
At the end of the week the only thing I was tired of was cramming my body into the backseat to get my daughter in and out of the car. I found myself most appreciative of the RC 350’s incredibly comfortable front seats and great sound-proofing. Punch the gas and the RC 350 will give you a nice little exhaust note, otherwise the interior is nearly silent.
The RC 350 F-Sport looks like a sports car and on paper delivers the horsepower and torque to be one. But it drives like a Lexus. If you’re a driver that demands performance, even at the expense of road noise and comfort, you’ll want to look elsewhere. If you’re looking for Lexus reliability and comfort in sporty package, the RC 350 demands a closer look.