2018 Lexus RC350 F Sport – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis


It’s a nice word, isn’t it?

Very upscale, smarmily British.

Made to order.

Like a custom-fitted suit. And while Lexus would go broke trying to special-build an RC350 for every taker, it feels that way.

Shall we try one on?

The Amorous Bee

The first thing you notice from the pictures of our tester is the color. Called Flare Yellow, it’s a rich metallic yellow that turns orange in certain light. It’s also a new color for 2018, and it gets lots of attention – the RC has been around since 2015, but people where asking about it like it was brand new. Give credit to the color – but also to the rightness of the design.

It wasn’t just people – more than once, we found a bug that was interested in our RC – maybe they thought it was a flower. There was one morning where we found a bee happily parked on the trunklid. He hung in there for an impressive while – up to 40 mph – before aerodynamics separated him from us. Must have been love.

We don’t blame him. While the new color does get attention, the design still looks fresh. The humongous Lexus spindle grille with F SPORT mesh works well here, with LED headlights, L-themed running lamps and taillights, cutaway sides, and snug lines of the roof looking aggressive and powerful. Our tester’s 19-inch, 10-spoke rims filled out the wheelwells – but there’s room for more if you want to make a monster statement.

The best part of the RC’s lines to us, is that it doesn’t look like a coupe version of one of Lexus’ sedans. Unlike BMW’s 4-series, Audi A5 or Cadillac ATS, which look like 2-door versions of their 4 or 5-door siblings, the RC stands alone. And that makes it look – and feel – just that bit more special.

Tailored Fit

That specialness comes at a cost, though…Where those sedan-ish coupes offer somewhat usable rear seats, the RC would only work for the smallest of kids for short trips. (There’s that bespoke feeling again – no-one wants a baggy suit, right?) Those in front however, enjoy a premium experience that’s both sporty and cush.

Once you negotiate the low roof line, you settle into extremely comfortable and supportive sport seats courtesy of F SPORT. Our tester didn’t have a sunroof, and we were actually surprised with the headroom – enough to let us get the seat more upright – nice for some of us who can’t lay back without feeling a punch in the lumbar region.

You do get visual punch though, in the world of everything controlled on a digital screen, the RC feels a bit old-school with plenty of switchgear, which looks especially cool at night, surrounding you in the cool glow of backlit controls – insert fighter pilot fantasy here…

The gauges in front of you are bright and clear, with a nice big tach dead-center where you want it. And like the other F SPORT models the cluster has a cool little party trick where the center gauge can motor off to the side to reveal other pertinent info. Impress your friends.

Our tester had the optional navigation system which gets you the new larger 10.3-inch screen which is good. It also comes with a touchpad control which is fidgety to use. Not so good.

Lexus has upgraded the infotainment this year as well, with Enform Safety Connect and Enform Service Connect now complimentary for first 10 years, as well as Enform Wi-Fi for one year that lets you connect up to five devices, and Lexus Enform Destination Assist complimentary for the first year of ownership.  If you’re looking for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, you won’t find it here.

Car Play vs CarPlay

Maybe you won’t miss the connectivity when you’re hooking up to the road. And here the RC excels in a Lexus-like manner.

When it comes to power, the RC350 is the middle child, between the RC300’s 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder, and the RC-F’s 467 hp V-8. The 306 hp, 3.5-liter V6 is a sweetheart, with a nice, but respectful (hey it’s a Lexus) rumble on start up, and a smooth, creamy response with a nice, but respectful growl as you run up through the rpm range.

The 8-speed automatic shifts quickly – we preferred Sport Mode to get best response. The RC350 is not blazingly fast, but it always feels quick and powerful.

The handling is a step up, helped in part on our tester having optional the Variable Gear Ratio Steering and optional TORSEN limited slip diff. The steering is well-weighted, very precise, and it’s easy to point and shoot around traffic or turns. The TORSEN really helps when you hoof the gas, letting you rocket out of turns, and serving up loads of grip. It makes for a perfect balance of power and handling that’s a delight to enjoy.

That enjoyment doesn’t come at the expense of comfort, though. Even with the F SPORT’s larger 19” meats and adjustable suspension in sportiest Sport + mode, the ride is surprisingly comfortable and compliant. Running in regular mode is downright luxurious, with a super smooth ride, low noise, and the sweet sounds of the optional 835-watt, 17-speaker Mark Levinson premium audio system filling the cabin. You feel well looked after, cocooned in goodness. Like we said, Bespoke.

Lexus is more?

Actually, the RC350 comes across as impressive value, too. While you can get into the RC’s swanky looks for $40,640 for a 4-cylinder RC300, we’d certainly step up to the V6 RC350, which starts at $43,750.

Our tester added the F SPORT package ($4,105), Navigation with Mark Levinson audio ($2,725), Premium Triple Beam LED headlamps ($1,160), LED foglamps ($410), Orange Brake Calipers ($300), Intuitive Parking Assist ($500), Premium Paint ($390), TORSEN limited Slip ($390 – bargain!), Variable power steering ($1,900) and Rear Spoiler ($399). With a few additional accessories and Delivery ($995), our well-loaded tester carried a sticker of $57,388.

Competitors include the BMW 440i Coupe $61,850 comparably equipped. Audi A5 $56,800 similarly equipped. Perhaps the RC’s closest competitor, The Infiniti Q60 rang in the closest at $57,145.

The RC350 is a special car. You feel the premiumness, the specialness, and the commitment to making a personal coupe for two.

Like a well-cut suit, it probably makes you look better than you actually do, as well. Nothing wrong with that.

For those looking to tastefully stand out in style, the RC350 F SPORT is a perfect fit.