The Lexus RC 350 F Sport is a Gentleman’s Sports Car

The blood-rushing side of driving has been absent from Lexus’ lineup since, well, forever.

It casts the shadow of a fastback GT car, but bears the angularity of giant rakish piece of metallurgic origami. And of all places, it comes to you from Lexus, the creators of the cushy airship LS600 flagship luxury sedan. But these two worlds aren’t as far apart as one would think. Lexus does, however, want you to believe that they care about the more sporting, more blood-rushing side of driving that’s been expectedly absent from their lineup since, well, forever.

The RC 350 F Sport ($47,875) is an integral part of that Lexus paradigm shift, and the first thing to notice is that the body communicates angry power. There’s numerous vents, folds, creases and angles, all with the capstone of Lexus’ new spindle grille, which shows up in its largest and most dramatic form on the RC F and RC 350 F Sport. The damn thing looks like it it’s been pulled off a robotic whale shark. The checkmark LED driving lights add even more aggressiveness, and the rigid angularity only stops with the small and round LED fog lamps at the base of the grille’s frame (which seem a touch out of place).

The damn thing looks like it it’s been pulled off a robotic whale shark

A big character line drops down from the bulging front fender and makes its way to the pronounced deck of a taillight that’s flat enough and big enough to rest a small cup of coffee. And in what amounts to the busiest back end of any modern car, the RC 350 F Sport’s tail is creased with tugs and pulls on every exposed surface. Lexus even fit in a nod to the iconic Porsche 959, with slats just aft of the rear wheels. It’s as if Lexus designers took a look at the smooth and curvaceous first generation SC from the 1990s and said, “Let’s do the opposite.”

Under the Hood

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Engine: 3.5-liter V6
Transmission: 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters
Horsepower: 306 hp
Torque: 277 lb-ft
0-60 mph: 5.7 seconds
Top Speed: 145 mph
MSRP: $47,875 (base) / $54,583 (as tested)

In the cabin the RC 350 F Sport uses a dark gray tone, soft touch materials in its dash, and the whole endeavor is reminiscent of the LFA supercar’s interior. It exudes a techy, aviation cockpit feel that fits with the car’s exterior. The big seats have a “cobra belly” stitching that’s unique in a world of diamond patterns and vertical lines. The seats are comfortable, laterally supportive in hard driving and attractive. As far as the UI is concerned, the awful mouse is gone and replaced by a track pad that’s a bit easier to use but could still use more precise inputs. The 350 is comfortable, and makes for good drives that last as long as you want them to.

As far as the driving itself is concerned, one might come in with expectation that RC 350 F Sport is underpowered. It is, notably, down 161 hp from the V8 F model, and the 3.5-liter V6 with 306 hp is nearly the same motor as the V6 Camry. Just the sound of that hurts. But the sheetmetal betrays that Camry image, and the actual driving experience far from painful.

Since the RC 350 F Sport possesses a rigid chassis and ultra-smooth Adaptive Variable Suspension, it’s fantastic on undulating and twisting back roads and on long stretches of highway.

The RC 350 F Sport is a gentleman’s sports car. Because of its more muted power delivery, coupled with a relatively heavy curb weight (3,894 lbs, about the same as a Chevy Impala), it won’t bomb the track like a BMW 435i. But since the RC 350 F Sport possesses a rigid chassis and ultra-smooth Adaptive Variable Suspension, it’s fantastic on undulating and twisting back roads and on long stretches of highway — where its comfort, quietness and composure are downright enviable. Most importantly, however, is the RC 350 F Sport’s steering. It’s an absolute pleasure, thanks to spectacular feedback (ironic, since it’s an electrically boosted system, notorious for the lack thereof). This combination of comfort and feel means you can drive this car at 7/10ths in everyday situations without losing your lunch, your spine or your license. And with an all-wheel-drive option, it becomes even more attractive to the driver who wants surefootedness more than rear wheel burnouts.

That said, the car’s exterior styling is a bit more ambitious than the car’s drive. It has presence, but the extreme aggressiveness of the styling isn’t consistent with the composed driving spirit. Those who enjoy this level-headed mix of drive and luxury tend to like to remain a bit lower on the design radar, and Ultrasonic Blue Mica paint will turn every head. Regardless, Lexus has a winner on its hands. The RC 350 F Sport provides a new flavor for Lexus that it hasn’t had before. And though it’s down in horsepower from the RC F, as a daily driver it’s perfectly competent, especially if you want to remain on the right side of the jail bars.

Buy Now: $47,875 (base)

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