- RC receives a sporty-yet-elegant exterior rework
- Interior refinements heighten driving pleasure
- Sharper and more graceful driving habits
A new version of the Lexus RC luxury sports coupe has made its debut in South Africa in exclusive F Sport guise. Since its local introduction in 2015, the RC has spearheaded Lexus’ commitment to delivering a more emotional quality in the driving experience provided by its vehicles, with its sporty appearance and versatile driving character.
The fresh new RC 350 F Sport retains all the virtues of what RC is renowned for, but takes them to a higher level by adopting the latest evolution of Lexus’ signature design language and sharpened driving dynamics inspired by the brand’s flagship luxury coupe, the LC.
The exterior styling remains as sporty as the preceding model, but subtle changes in the details, inspired by Lexus LC design cues, imbue it with a new-found elegance. Inside the cabin, everything from the high-quality materials to the precise layout of controls and gauges has been crafted to maximise driving pleasure.
Enhancements have also been made to the RC 350 F Sport’s aerodynamics, tyres and suspension with concomitant improvements to engine response and steering feel, all of which reflect the ‘sharper and more refined’ drive philosophy that was introduced by the LC. This new RC is more stable than ever under a wide variety of driving conditions.
This provides a high level of driver confidence and a reassuringly flat ride quality, making the RC an ideal grand tourer, whether you’re negotiating a twisty mountain road or simply making a long-distance commute on the open highway.
EXTERIOR DESIGN LANGUAGE
Lexus designers sought to maintain the RC’s dynamic coupe proportions, while adding a high level of elegance to the exterior. Key to achieving this was the addition of distinctive design elements, such as a new front bumper design – the accentuated corners flow down from the headlamps. There is also a new grille mesh pattern comprising shapes which gradually transform from top to bottom, creating intriguing visual tension. The vertical arrangement of the ‘micro’ triple LED headlamps and new L-shaped LED Daytime Running Lights add to the car’s more distinguished appearance.
Moving to the rear, air ducts have been added to the corners of the rear bumper, resulting in better handling stability and enhanced overall driving response. A wider stance and lower centre of gravity reflect the RC’s heightened ability to maintain grip in varied road conditions. The rear combination lamps now house more pronounced L-shaped lenses that are a new signature design feature for Lexus coupes.
Ten different exterior colours are available in the RC, including Naples Yellow and Poseidon Blue, shades which perfectly communicate the car’s dynamic nature. The rest of the line-up includes White Nova, Sonic Titanium, Solar Storm Red and Graphite Black. Brand new to Lexus RC are Lava Orange, Mercury Grey, Black and Sparkling Meteor.
The new RC 350 F Sport many other custom exterior and interior items that are exclusive to F Sport. These include powerfully-styled 19-inch alloy wheels, featuring a striking 10-spoke design finished in a dark premium metallic hue.
DRIVING PLEASURE HEIGHTENED BY INTERIOR REFINEMENTS
A brushed treatment has been applied to the heater control and audio panels, generating a higher sense of quality, while the cushioned knee pads on either side of the centre console have been made larger and raised higher, creating a greater sense of space in the front of the cabin. The driver’s palm rest has been reshaped and a stitching pattern has been added to the surface, showcasing the designer’s close attention to detail.
A new analogue clock, identical to the one in the LC, sits high on the instrument panel in another identifying feature of Lexus coupes- other small details include newly designed and ergonomically-defined cup holders.
Interior trim colours include Black, Flare Red, White and Mustard – the latter features subtle yellow accents on a black background.
‘SHARPER AND MORE GRACEFUL’ DRIVING CONCEPT
Adopting the driving concept of a ‘sharper and more graceful’ drive, Lexus engineers have succeeded in making the new RC thoroughly fun to drive by focusing their attention on details, such as enhancing the car’s aerodynamics and fine-tuning the suspension system and powertrain.
Endowed with a flatter and more stable ride quality and sharper handling characteristics, the new RC is more athletic and responsive than ever.
Enhanced aerodynamics, achieved with details such as a new fin shape in the side window mouldings and a duct in the rear bumper, give the car better handling stability.
New 19-inch wheels shod with higher-grip tyres support excellent steering response. The tyres now have a reduced Rolling Resistance Coefficient, which aids in achieving the excellent ride comfort.
New shock absorbers, which provide significant damping force from low suspension stroke speeds, and stiffer suspension bushings have also been introduced. The new RC underwent extensive real-world testing, with chassis engineers constantly fine-tuning performance, to improve ride and handling.
The RC 350 F Sport’s wheelbase is just 2730mm in an overall length of 4700mm with a rear overhang of just 1040mm, highlighting the coupe’s purposeful and squat stance.
Furthermore, the RC’s suspension delivers a focused driving experience while enhancing ride quality.
It has a front and rear coil-spring independent suspension with monotube dampers and ball-joined stabiliser bars to enhance cornering potential. The rear suspension has a double wishbone assembly and a multi-link system with a castor-locating rod for maximum rear grip and balance.
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION
The 3.5-litre Lexus dual-injection 2GR-FKS V6 in the Lexus RC 350 F Sport delivers a rare, charismatic concoction of power, torque and responsiveness for a thoroughly engaging driving experience. This engine has been proven in Lexus models around the world and meets driver expectations for responsive acceleration.
This powerplant features intelligent dual variable valve timing (VVT-i) for inlet and exhaust camshafts, an intelligent electronic throttle and the Lexus D-4S system of direct and port fuel injection. The quad cam V6 engine has two petrol injection systems, including high-pressure direct injection.
Lexus designed the all-alloy 60-degree V6 for a combination of high performance, fuel efficiency, package efficiency, reliability and serviceability, coupled with light-weight, low NVH and low emissions.It delivers 232kW of power at 6600rpm and 380Nm of torque at 4800rpm, equating to a 0-100km/h sprint time of 6,3 seconds, topped off by a maximum speed of 230km/h.
It produces fuel economy figures of 9.4-litres/100km combined, CO2 emissions of 217g/km and is Euro-5 compliant.
The 2GR-FKS engine is matched to an eight-speed transmission with M Mode, allowing full torque-converter lock-up from second to eighth gears. The eight internal ratios have been chosen to balance the needs of sports driving and fuel economy – with a low first gear ratio for initial acceleration, closely spaced ratios in the intermediate gears for performance and urban-driving economy, and a tall eighth-gear ratio for motorway economy.
The torque converter has a long-travel damper to boost fuel economy and reduce NVH during lock-up. The transmission can be used in D (automatic) or M mode, which has full torque-converter lock-up from second to eighth gears for ‘clutchless’ manual shifting, utilising steering paddle shifts if preferred.
Down changes in M mode are made in just 0.2 of a second, with the transmission’s throttle blipping control matching the engine speed to the gear. In addition, the RC F Sport transmission is linked to the Lexus Drive Mode Select function, with its ECO, NORMAL, SPORT and SPORT S+ settings. NORMAL mode provides the fuel economy and seamless acceleration traditionally associated with a Lexus electronically-controlled transmission. It uses the eight ratios for optimum fuel economy, while coordinating control with the throttle to provide smooth acceleration with minimum feeling of gear changes.
SPORT and SPORT S+ modes include newly adopted G-sensor AI-Shift Control, which uses information from the G-sensor on driving status to provide the optimal gear ratio for performance driving. The system selects the suitable gear for sporting driving by monitoring the status of the vehicle’s G-sensor, with shifting selection biased towards the lower gears to draw out the full potential of the 3.5-litre engine. The transmission uses G-sensor information to automatically downshift during hard braking to set up for a corner, hold a lower gear through the corner for greater control, and then give the driver a greater power response on corner exit by selecting a suitably low gear.
While on the subject of Drive Mode Select, modes can be adjusted via the circular knob beside the gear selector and instrumentation changes colour to reflect the selected mode. In addition to controlling throttle opening and engine output control, SPORT S+ optimises chassis elements including Variable Gear Ratio Steering and Adaptive Variable Suspension output to provide RC’s most dynamic and focused driving experience.
Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS)
The RC 350 F Sport is fitted with Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS), which electronically controls and monitors all four dampers simultaneously to suit certain conditions and driving preferences.
It aids ride comfort when driving on rough roads by lowering the damping force but can also deliver a sporting drive with greater response and handling stability by increasing the damping force when SPORT S+ mode is engaged via Drive Mode Select.
AVS also interacts with RC’s Vehicle Dynamic Integrated Management (VDIM) to optimise damper rates to prepare the vehicle during potentially hazardous driving situations. For example, AVS will increase front damper force to prevent dive during emergency braking. It also monitors steering operations and road conditions and adjusts the dampers to suit, monitoring inputs on vehicle posture including roll, dive and squat.
EPS with Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS)
Lexus RC 350 F Sport has electric power-assisted rack and pinion steering (EPS) for agile driving, responsive steering feel and confidence-building straight-line stability. It also boasts the additional feature of Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS) on the front wheels and Dynamic Rear Steering (DRS) on the rear as part of a three-fold Lexus Dynamic Handling (LDH) strategy.
RC chassis engineers set three goals for this coupe: excellent steering response and smooth roll transfer during initial turn-in, minimal roll and rapid yaw-rate gain for agile turning mid-corner, and smooth steering feel with smooth sprung mass (body) movement from corner to corner.
The vehicle’s excellent steering response makes it easy for the driver to aim for the corner exit. Steering feel and response have been further optimised by the high-rigidity, gear-mounting bushing for the steering rack.
Development also focused on obtaining smooth and accurate vehicle response to small steering inputs to correct changes in the road surface, cross winds and other conditions, to ensure straight-line stability and help achieve a high-quality ride.
The EPS integrates with the Drive Mode Select to adjust steering response for the different drive modes. The steering power-assistance curve can be varied to increase steering feedback, for a more direct steering feel – this occurs in SPORTS S+ setting.
The RC has the added feature of Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS), which controls steering ratio according to vehicle speed and steering operation. The latest-generation Lexus VGRS has the actuator unit on the steering column with an integrated rubber damper to reduce noise and vibration.
VGRS has three benefits: fewer turns of the steering wheel are needed to achieve maximum wheel turning angle at very low speeds (parking or making a U-turn), reducing driver effort; light, easy-to-handle steering at moderate speeds – for urban driving or winding roads; and a firm steering feel and reduced turns lock-to-lock for optimum control at higher speeds. It improves driving feel during lane changing and on winding roads by correcting the vehicle’s response lag in accordance with steering-angle velocity.
RC 350 F Sport also has Dynamic Rear Steering (DRS) which provides the benefits of four-wheel steering while maintaining the feeling of a conventional two-wheel steer vehicle. Depending on speed, this feature turns the front and rear wheels in the same or opposing directions to help provide optimal agility.
These three features – EPS, VGRS and DRS – have been collectively dubbed the Lexus Dynamic Handling (LDH) system. Working in unison this system enhances manoeuvrability, reduces steering effort at low speed, increases steering responsiveness and intuitive steering feel at medium speeds, and improves overall stability and vehicle posture for increased safety and comfort at high speeds.
NEW SAFETY FEATURES
The RC has Lane Departure Alert with Lane Keep Assist which uses a camera mounted behind the rear view mirror to help monitor the driver’s position in their lane and warns the driver in the event they inadvertently drift out of lane. The RC 350 F Sport’s Automatic High-Beam uses the same camera to switch to low beam when the lights of oncoming or preceding vehicles are detected.
The Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) has changed from second-generation to third-generation, providing optimised functionality in detecting all-round obstructions in adjacent lanes or when manoeuvring into parking bays.
The Pre-Crash System with Pedestrian Detection reduces the likelihood and severity of collisions by detecting imminent frontal impact and automatically preparing Brake Assist, reacting before you can, while the emergency brake signal acts to prevent rear-end collisions.
ADDITIONAL IMPRESSIVE CHANGES
Other technical changes include the upgrade of the analogue clock which has been changed to a GPS automatic adjustable type system.
The heated door mirrors can be folded in electrically to help negotiate narrow spaces and, when parked, there is less risk of damage. Electrochromatic technology also dims the mirrors to prevent the risk of being dazzled by following traffic.
Rear light clusters feature an array of LEDs to ensure the RC is highly visible to following traffic. When braking heavily, the brake lights – including the high-level centre LED stop lamp – pulse rapidly to provide an effective warning to following vehicles.
The RC 350 F Sport also comes standard with LED cornering lamps which aid in the additional illumination when the turn signal is engaged. The extra white light is directed towards pedestrians that may otherwise be difficult to see when turning at an intersection using only the low beam headlamps.
Hill Start Assist (HAC) comes standard in the RC 350 F Sport. This technology is a ‘brake hold’ function that helps keep a vehicle from rolling backwards when the driver pulls away when on an incline or hill. Hill Start Assist is great and allows the driver to execute a smooth start on a steep hill.
Lexus’ innovative touch-sensitive Remote Touch Interface links the driver more directly to the audio and navigation systems of the vehicle. The unique new control interface was developed to amplify the tactile feedback of the RC’s sports-coupé driving experience.
The steering wheel and shift knob combines exquisite craftsmanship with exceptional comfort. The interior features an unmistakable F Sport shift knob and steering wheel which is trimmed in hand-selected perforated leather.
The RC’s high-efficiency speakers create an unprecedented listening space for every person in every seat. It features Quantum Logic® Immersion, the most sophisticated 3D audio technology available.
The RC also comes standard with a full electric moon roof. Its electric tilt and slide glass function lets the desired amount of moonlight or sunlight, as well as fresh air into the cabin. One-touch control is quick and convenient.
LEXUS RC PRICES AND SERVICE INFORMATION
The Lexus RC 350 F Sport retails for R939 100. The RC model also boasts a Lexus best-in-class, 7-year/105 000km Warranty and Full Maintenance Plan as well as a Lexus Distance Plan Complete. The vehicle service intervals are at every 15 000km, alternatively once a year.