2015 Lexus RC 350 & RC 350 F SPORT Preview

Lexus RC Preview

Last week, Lexus invited me to the Monticello Motor Club, where I was able to test drive the all-new RC coupe in all its various forms. The following is a technical overview of the RC 350 & RC 350 F SPORT -— my personal impressions will posted early next week.

There have been exactly two Lexus non-convertible coupes in the twenty-five years since the brand’s introduction.

First was the Calty-designed SC, which debuted in 1991 and lasted nearly ten years before being replaced by the convertible second-generation SC 430 in 2001.

Highly praised by the media, the SC featured an influential exterior design with almost no straight lines and remains a core Lexus enthusiast model nearly 25 years after its release.

The second coupe by Lexus needs almost no introduction at all — the limited edition 552-horsepower LFA supercar debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show at the end of 2009, and is now arguably the most famous Lexus of all time.

With this in mind, the all-new RC coupe arrives this fall as the third Lexus coupe in history. There are three variants — the standard RC, the RC F SPORT, and the 467 horsepower RC F.

The following is a technical overview of the first two models, the RC 350 & RC 350 F SPORT — both available in RWD & AWD configurations. To avoid information overload, information on the RC F has been posted separately.


Exterior Styling

The Lexus RC exterior design takes its inspiration from the LF-CC concept that was first shown at the Paris Motor Show in 2012:

Lexus LF-CC Coupe

The front grille of the RC is the widest and lowest interpretation of the spindle grille yet, with a unique foglamp design that integrates into the surrounding chome:

Lexus RC Front

The side profile carries the lines from the front end and bends them around the body, creating strong creases that show off a low stance and strong wheel arches:

Lexus RC Side

The rear design is marked by the aero-stablizing fins mapped into the bumper corners and the three-dimensional taillights:

Lexus RC Rear

Lighting

All RCs come standard with LED lowbeams & LED highbeams:

Like all new Lexus models, the L-shaped daytime running lights are separate from the headlamp housing — LED foglights are also available:

Lexus RC Foglight

The taillights are also LED, and are sectioned in a way that Lexus poetically describes as “a unique radiance reminiscent of precious stones”:

Lexus RC Taillight

Dimensions

The RC is 184.8 inches (4,695mm) long, 72.4 inches (1840mm) wide, and 54.9 inches (1,395mm) high — wheelbase is 107.5 inches (2,730mm):

Lexus RC Size

Comparing the size to the IS, the RC 1.1 inches (28mm) wider, 1.1 inches (279mm) longer, but the wheelbase is 2.7 inches (69mm) shorter:

Lexus RC vs IS Size

The trunk is spacious enough — without folding down the rear seats, there’s 10.4 cubic feet of storage, which is large enough to accommodate two golf bags. Weight wise, the RC RWD comes in at 3,748 lbs, with the RC AWD a little more at 3,891 lbs.


Body Structure

The platform of the RC is an interesting mix of models — the suspension and front portion are pulled from the GS, the center floor is from the IS convertible, and the rear floor is taken from the IS:

Lexus RC Platform

As with all new Lexus models, the RC benefits from extensive use of body adhesive bonding, laser screw welding, and additional spot welding in key areas:

Lexus RC Body Adhesive
Lexus RC Laser Screw Welding
Lexus RC Spot Welds

Lexus engineers also increased body rigidity by adding multiple braces to the under floor:

Lexus RC Braces

Aerodynamics

The RC co-efficient of drag changes depending on the drivetrain: the RC RWD is rated at 0.29, and the RC AWD is rated at 0.30:

Lexus RC Aerodynamics

As can be seen in the graphic above, the lower ducts in the front bumper direct air to the front wheels — this helps control the speed of the airflow to the body sides and improves stability.


RC 350 Engine

The RC 350 is powered by the 2GR-FSE 3.5L V6 engine used across the Lexus lineup. Numbers remain the same at 306 horsepower and 277 lb.-ft. of torque, with a redline of 6,000RPM.

Performance is listed at:

  • 0–60 mph timing: 5.8 seconds
  • 1/4-mile acceleration: 14.3 seconds
  • Top speed: 143 mph

Fuel economy will be 19/28/22 mpg (city/highway/combined) for the RWD RC, and 19/26/21 mpg for the AWD RC — the fuel tank will hold 17.4 gallons (66 liters).


Transmissions

The RC 350 RWD will be equipped with the 8-speed Sport Direct Shift automatic transmission introduced on the new IS F SPORT.

The standout feature of this gearbox is the G Force Artificial Intelligence (G AI-Shift) technology available in Automatic shifting mode, which selects the best gear to maximize available power when coming out of a corner:

Lexus RC G AI-Shift

The RC 350 AWD is only available with a 6-speed transmission. Both tranmissions come with standard paddle shifters.


Drive Mode Select

The Lexus RC has three distinct driving modes that the driver can select:

  • Normal: A balance between performance and fuel efficiency;
  • ECO: Emphasizes fuel efficiency by smoothing out throttle response and reducing demand on air conditioning system; and
  • SPORT: Increases the responsiveness of the throttle response and tunes in the Electric Power Steering.

Suspension & Brakes

The RC is setup with a double-wishbone front suspension and rear multi-link suspension in the rear:

Lexus RC Suspensions

This system was adapted from the GS sedan, though the RC’s more rigid structure allows for higher damping forces and larger diameter stabilizer bars.

The brakes are the standard four-wheel disc brake setup — the front brakes are 13.15-inch (334mm) ventilated rotors with opposed 4-piston calipers, and the rear brakes are 12.20–inch (310mm) ventilated rotors with single-piston aluminum alloy calipers.


Interior Styling

The RC 350 shares a similar cabin style with the IS, built to surround the driver & passengers with a cockpit layout:

Lexus RC Interior

Eight-way power driver and front-passenger seats are standard, the driver gets an additional two-way power lumbar control:

Lexus RC Seating

All seating uses an integrated foaming construction — rather than the conventional method of wrapping a foam pad to create the seat, the upholstery is set into a mold and filled with foam. This elimates wrinkles in the seat surface and creates a tighter bond with the foam inside.

Access to the rear seats is controlled by a new dual manual/electric folding mechanism. The rear seats will fold down in a 60/40 split, allowing the RC to accommodate items up to 59 inches long:

Lexus RC Seats Folded

There are a couple interior design elements worth pointing out — first is the interior ambient lighting, which points upwards rather than down:

Lexus RC Upward Lighting

Another new detail in the RC is a frameless rearview mirror:

Lexus RC Rearview Mirror

Displays & Controls

The RC 350 has a standard 4-meter instrument panel with a 4.2-inch multi-information display:

Lexus RC Instrument Panel

Also standard is a 7-inch center screen:

Lexus RC Center Display

The menus of the center display can be navigated by two different interfaces — first is the standard Display Audio controller:

Lexus Display Audio Controller

The second interface is the all-new Remote Touch touchpad available with all navigation-equipped vehicles:

Lexus Remote Touch Interface

The Remote Touch touchpad allows for smartphone-like touch control of the navigation, including tap, flick and pinch gestures, with a force-feedback function that vibrates the control surface when a menu option is selected.


Audio Systems

There are two audio systems available on the RC, starting with the standard 256-watt Display Audio 10-speaker setup:

Lexus RC Display Audio Controller

It’s a full AM/FM/HD/SAT/CD system with HD Radio, Bluetooth hands-free/audio, and free HD weather/traffic information. The center console connectivity includes two USB ports, AUX input jack and a 12-volt power port.

The optional Mark Levinson surround sound system is 17-speakers & 835-watts, with full 5.1 channel/7.1 channel support:

Lexus RC ML Audio System

There are two notable features with the ML system:

  • A Lexus-first auto volume system, which automatically adjusts volume when changing between sources or radio channels, and
  • Clari-Fi Music Restoration Technology, which analyzes digital audio files during playback and “rebuilds” what was lost in compression.

This is the first time the Clari-Fi technology has been available in North America.


Safety Systems

The RC is equipped with eight standard airbags, and is available with a whole host of safety features:

  • Blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, which detects vehicles in the driver’s blind spots and when reversing out of a parking space;
  • Lane Change Alert, a warning system that can detect high-speed vehicles approaching from the rear;
  • Dynamic radar cruise control, which maintains a pre-set distance from the vehicle ahead by matching its speed;
  • and the Pre-collision system that uses millimeter-wave radar to sense obstacles on the road ahead and warn the driver of a possible collision.

Colors & Wheel Options

Exterior color options include: 077 Starfire Pearl, 1H9 Nebula Gray Pearl, 1J4 Silver Lining Metallic, 1J7 Atomic Silver, 212 Obsidian, & 3T5 Infrared.

Interior color options include: Flaxen, Parchment, Stratus Gray, & Black. NuLuxe simulated leather is standard, with leather included in the Luxury package.

Matte Black is the standard interior trim, with Dark Gray Wood & Brown Wood both available with the Luxury package.

There are two wheel options for the RC 350:

Lexus RC Wheel Options

RC F SPORT

The F SPORT package starts with the mesh spindle grille:

Lexus RC Front Grille

Adaptive Variable Suspension

The suspension is where the RC F SPORT differentiates itself the most from the standard RC.

The standard Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) makes micro adjustments to the suspension dampening to all four wheels depending on driving conditions. This adds additional ride comfort while providing enhanced handling when the RC F SPORT’s SPORT S+ mode is activated.


Variable Gear-Ratio Steering

An available option for the RC F SPORT is the Variable Gear-Ratio Steering (VGRS) system, which automatically changes the steering gear ratio in response to vehicle speed and driving conditions.


Lexus Dynamic Handling

Lexus Dynamic Handling (LDH), available only on RC F SPORT RWD models, adds rear wheel steering to the VGRS system.

LDH improves the vehicle dynamics in all situations:

  • Enhances maneuverability and reduce steering effort at low speed;
  • Increases steering responsiveness and intuitive steering feel at medium speeds;
  • Helps enhance control at high speeds.

Brakes

The front brakes of the RC F SPORT get an upgrade over the standard RC, with 2-piece 14.06-inch (357mm) brake discs, opposed 4-piston calipers, and high-friction brake pads.


Drive Mode Select

The RC F SPORT carries over the ECO, NORMAL, & SPORT modes from the standard RC, and adds an additional SPORT S+ mode with the available Automatic Variable Suspension (AVS).

The SPORT S+ mode stiffens the dampening on the AVS system, along with adjusting the automatic shift timing and increasing throttle response. If the VGRS option is available, the gear ratio will also be changed to enhance steering responsiveness.


Interior

A single dial instrument panel comes standard with the RC F SPORT:

The 8-inch color LCD panel was introduced with the IS F SPORT, and features a moving silver dial that helps customize the various menu options.

Also standard on the RC F SPORT are aluminum sport pedals and scuffplates.


Colors & Wheel Options

Exterior color options include: 1H9 Nebula Gray Pearl, 1J4 Silver Lining Metallic, 1J7 Atomic Silver, 212 Obsidian, 3T5 Infrared, and F SPORT exclusive colors 083 Ultra White, 4W7 Molten Pearl, & 8X1 Ultrasonic Blue.

Interior color options are: Rioja Red, Black, Stratus Gray, & Playa. NuLuxe simulated leather is standard.

A dual 10-spoke dark metallic aluminum wheel is the single F SPORT option:

Lexus RC F SPORT Wheel Design

This ends my technical overview of the 2015 RC 350 & RC 350 F SPORT coupe. Early pricing details and package information will be posted tomorrow.

You can read a similar breakdown of the RC F here. Please check back early next week for my personal impressions of the RC, RC F SPORT, & RC F. My thanks to Lexus for inviting me to this event.