Yes Yes Yes oh Yes!: spectacular looks, classy cabin, gadgets gadgets gadgets
Oh dear me no: aging engine, no auto parking, economy could improve.
Remember we took the yummy IS350 for an outing a few months ago and liked it? We liked its sensual lines and cutting edge gadgets, and we liked the power, oh yes, the power. The RC is the gym-fit 2 door cousin of the IS which gets many, many more looks.
It is achingly gorgeous. It is a delicious work of art even when it is sitting quietly in the garage gently lit by dimmer switched downlights. The 5 layer paint job is so smooth you could apply your lippy in it. Leaving it parked for more than a few minutes causes nose marks to mysteriously appear on the glass. Very spooky.
The pictures don’t do the “look at me” silhouette justice. It is just the sort of car for an owner who wants to be conspicuous yet considered to have good taste. We will be the judge of that. After all, if sir doesn’t want to be noticed, a bright metallic orange Lexus Coupe isn’t the car for sir. Everyone says they don’t want to be noticed, until they drive a car they get noticed in.
The deeply sculptured nose is replete with an LED headlights under lit with daytime running lights and indicators. The pert rear end has a high lip which is a little hard to see over but the parking camera fixes that. LEDs have been used with gay abandon for the quality of light. We all look better with good lighting and the RC is no different. There are 9 colours to choose from and our car was the very loud Lava Mica AKA 70’s metallic Orange. Peace Man! It sounds horrible but we snapped a few cheeky Iphone shots to prove it is drop dead gorgeous, especially against the blackened starkness of a baron fire-damaged Blue Mountains landscape.
The inside is as tasteful as the outside. It is borrowed heavily from the IS which is fine by me. Entry is by gently caressing the door handle, then giving it a good yank. The door is ginormous but still not big enough to get into the back seats without sliding the front seats forward. Pull the seat-back forward, and the bottom of the chair is whizzed forward electrically. When I say whizz, I mean “YAWN! Have a cuppa while you wait”. That isn’t a bad thing because you can give the outside another once over while you wait.
Shut the door and press the start button, and the steering column swings into place. It stows itself so you can get your bum in and out of the driver’s seat more easily. The seats are leather, of course, and are heated and cooled as well as being adjusted by electric motors. We don’t want Sir getting ruffled on the way to Sir’s important muscle-pumping schedule do we? The seats hug perhaps a little too snugly but it is as a grand touring coupe should be. The instruments have the same slightly twee centre ring that slides to one side. I have a love hate relationship with it. It is naff, but I like naff. Why is it there? Because it can be! It displays far too much info for the driver’s own good. He is going to ignore most of it anyway.
The posh Mark Levinsen speakers sound divine. The seats don’t have a massage function because when the volume knob gets a twist the seats don’t need extra help to vibrate. The rear seats are useable but not on an everyday basis.
The cabin feels expensive and classy and everything works just right. The menu system takes a bit of getting used to. Once mastered, allows it’s user to flit through the system with gay abandon. The Levinsen sound system is epic! The lows are low but everything is crystal clear at almost any volume.
The engine might be getting on a bit, but it is willing and able. Through the smooth 8 speed auto, the RC is propelled to 100 in only 6.1 seconds. The auto has a torque converter which locks up between 2nd and 8th gears. That means there is no slippage in any gear but first giving the same economy as a manual. In fact you might even get a little better. In normal driving mode the Lexus makes sure the engine revs as low as possible and only changes down when power is needed. It does a better job of managing gears than a human could do if fuel consumption is the aim. Most of us won’t go higher than 4th around town meaning the 3.5 V6 would be screaming its head of most of the time on the dreary drive to work. The Auto will have none of it and changes up. Sports mode is a different kettle of fish altogether. The revs are kept up up up.
The seating is a snug fit keeping a keen driver in the right place in tight corners. We took the RC on a romantic trip to the Blue Mountains to stay at our favourite hotel, the newly re-opened Hydro Majestic at Medlow Bath. The hotel was utterly diabolical with the room being a closet of unrivaled misery, but the RC was spectacular.
The mountains are strewn with hairpins and long stretches of gentle smooth road with magnificent views over the valleys far below. What struck us first was the ride, which was like being on a feather bed. You might think that made the corners intolerable. You might expect the body to wallow and lurch about like drunken sailor, but not a bit of it. The chassis has settings which a driver can select at will so you can be as stiff or as soft as you like. The F Sport also gets a fancy rear steering setup. The RC loves being thrown around like a rag doll. Even in the most unruly bend things never get untidy, so the driver only has to point the nose to know the car will follow.
After a few hours we arrived at the Hydro refreshed and excited, but would have then been more comfortable sleeping in the car rather than our room. I’ve never stayed somewhere of such unrivaled awfulness.
The boot isn’t huge but the seats fold down if you want to get something really big in the rear.
The Lexus is pitched against BMW’s 4 series and it compares favourably. For the same money it has more kit. Apart from the 4wheel steering, the blind spot monitoring and radar guided cruise control came standard. The V6 will also take E10 which is the cheapskate petrol if you can find it. Better still, 10% of the fossil fuel comes from plants which are renewable. The specs sheet says E95 and up, but the fuel filler cap says E10, so you decide.
The cabin is lit by a touch-controlled dome light. No matter how often I drive a Lexus I have to fiddle with it. It’s way better than a clap-lamp.
Should you unintentionally scoop up a pedestrian, the bonnet fires a couple of charges to pop the outer surface upwards clear of the engine block. The hapless bystander is less likely to more seriously injured.
One last thing, modern cars have many nannies to make sure you have the best chance of avoiding catastrophe. This was put to the test in the wet weather. A car swerved to avoid a dog crossing onto our side of the road in the process. Its driver yanked rather too enthusiastically and lost control. We were able to brake heavily and steer at the same time. The nannies knew it was an emergency. They applied full force to the brakes, automatically activated the hazard flashers, and all while making sure none of the wheels locked up. It is an eerie feeling but we felt safe and at times. Being safe is as important as feeling safe.
Many an ad campaign infers its subject is a head turner. It is a phrase over used to the point of distraction but in this case it it’s true. The striking exterior and glittery orange paintwork gets attention wherever you are.
We felt safe and comfortable and the RC350 is one of the very few cars I would ever want to take on a Great Australian Road Trip. Lexus, are you listening?
Would I buy one? Yes yes yes. If I had access to a little extra I’d opt for the RC-F which is the fire breathing butcher sister of the RC350.
Price: Luxury-$72,965 F Sport-81,365 Port Luxury-$93,965 (prices drive away in NSW)
Engine: 24 valve VVTI, 3.5 V6, 233kw/378Nm, 9.4 L/100k