Lexus RC: First Generation

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.

Comments
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    RAL
  • September 4, 2014
I wish Akio had insisted the LF-CC styling remain basically unchanged in the production RC. He reportedly did insist the LF-LC remain 90% unchanged in the coming production model. The picture above reminds me of how the LF-CC has that look of class and refinement the RC lacks. At least the RC F-Sport and RCF have the mesh grille. But those RC fog lights on that extremely obtuse spindle and the black plastic gritted teeth grille . . .NO! I think the RC interior should have more visual distinction from the IS interior. Driving an IS yesterday, I noticed the hard plastic on the side of the console and the lower door panel was quite uncomfortable if I rested a knee on either. Looks like the RC will be generously padded in that regard.
    T
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      Thomas
    • September 5, 2014
    The LF-CC styling became the new IS, but then as a sedan instead of a coupe. The RC havent got a single exterior design cue from the LF-CC. Not one.
    R
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      RAL
    • September 5, 2014
    Obviously . . .
    O
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      OlFius
    • September 5, 2014
    You can't say that the RC is a totally new concept...
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      Carmaker1
    • September 5, 2014
    It's not a new concept, but it wasn't inspired by nor watered down from the LF-CC. The RC has its own "concept" and that is the 1:1 clay model of it built in early 2012. The difference is, the Lexus advanced design department didn't develop the RC's concept. Only the LF-CC.
    T
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      Thomas
    • September 7, 2014
    I dont think every New car-model is in need of a Public concept. But actually, I think the LF-LC previewed the RC, sort of, as I can see a lot of design elements from it in the RC; triangular headlights, grille very wide at the bottom, the creasing of the rear panels, etc. Plus the LC was said too preview a New SC/coupe from Lexus. This also makes me think there wont be a "Production Version" of the LF-LC, like many seems to believe.
    O
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      OlFius
    • September 7, 2014
    OK, I can follow you. I believe more in a cross-fertilization of the LF-CC and the LF-LC. Every new concept, public or not, is always influenced by other (Lexus and/or other) new designs.
    C
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      Carmaker1
    • September 8, 2014
    I've already pointed out to you such a development pattern and that the LF-CC took from the RC, not the other way around. Most of the sketching for the RC was done 3 years ago, as well as how any further design developments to the RC are independent of the LF-CC. I do not believe Thomas is quite aware of that, unless he has spoken to actual personnel that chose to bother briefing him or actually works for Toyota (or a subsidiary).
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      Thomas
    • September 12, 2014
    "I'm not aware" of what? What the X are you talking about? You're rambling ...
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      Carmaker1
    • September 17, 2014
    Rambling? What a lazy cop out over being "corrected". In this context, you and many others here, have never shown yourselves to previously be AWARE of how, not all design concepts will be publicly shown and aren't even auto show glitzy. Most automotive media fail to even explain this, except for a rare few dedicated to design. I repeat this enough times and it finally sinks in. Not only that, but you are not well aware of the ACTUAL design process behind the RC & LF-CC. Not the vague, manufactured marketing fluff version. I took interest and asked about that process in person, learning how they took place during 2011 and 2012. The RC came first. Unlike yourself, I bother to fill in the blanks for others and not antagonize readers. I can verify this lack of design knowledge, by any simple observation of both your own and others' past commentary, that acted as if only "LF" concepts are how new Lexus models are designed and are "watered down" from there. I have always stressed that fact on this site and other Lexus-related sites. I was mostly annoyed in how Olfius stated something that was incorrect (LF-LC + LF-CC = RC) and was "following" your absurd claim, that the LF-CC is entirely unrelated to the RC. Also how you claimed, the RC is an SC replacement, and that the LF-LC solely previewed it. The LC design is the next SC, simple as that and is finished. A rare case of a show car, becoming a new ground-up development (LF-LC) and not merely a preview of a very imminent release (LF-NX). Olfius, gives the impression, of not realizing the LF-CC did NOT inspire the RC in any way, it happened invertedly. As you and I have agreed and pointed out, it was mostly LF-LC and 3IS inspired. The RC concept design and 3IS production design, were developed before the LF-CC. Similar happened with the LF-Ch and CT200h. The LF-CC borrowed a bit from the RC concept, before the latter having full production styling. You can still pretend to yourself that I am "rambling", if it helps you brush off your lack of originality (public concept vs design devel. concept). I have explain things at length, as too much can be lost in between. My commentary is often plagiarized and sourced by other parties as factual, so your mere opinion isn't saying much. I am not even going to bother arguing any further, as krew doesn't want a continuous argument in his comment sections.
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      OlFius
    • September 19, 2014
    Oeps, sorry for the annoyance, but I've never said that LF-LC + LF-CC = RC ! Re-read my last sentence, that was my only point.
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      Carmaker1
    • September 8, 2014
    (In response to your first sentence) Quite original (not really), considering it is rare that many of you actually take note on how design "concepts" are not all public showings/spectacles. I see plenty of them here and there at work, as they are being "engineered" into production specification, over a period of months to a year. Then I see them become prototypes in different stages and the final article serially produced after 2-3 years since conceptualization under the design staff. That is the difference between the actual development process and unrealistic marketing gibberish, thrown out to make the product seem more brand new (LA/Tokyo as a "concept", Detroit in production form). Only for the inquisitive consumer or accusatory detractors, will a brand/company come clean about such specifics: Six years of development, we couldn't have copied so & so's design 2-3 years ago... I already mentioned the LF-LC certainly inspired elements of the RC (LF-LC was finished in Nov. 2011, a few months before RC design selection), but the LF-LC will still precede an upper-end 2-door Lexus (SC). The LF-LC would've required some updating prior to being approved, as well as corrections for production feasibility. Of course, these statements may fall on deaf ears or be copied by spammers.
    C
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      Carmaker1
    • September 5, 2014
    Yes, quite true somewhat. It generally previewed the IS design cues, since the IS design was already reached in 2010 and finalised in 2011. Only some front end elements of the LF-CC take from the parallel RC development. The rough RC design came first, not the finished LF-CC. LF-CC project ended also as the RC reached its production styling.
    C
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      Carmaker1
    • September 5, 2014
    This is an example: Sketch 1 The XE30 IS drawn in 2010 by designer Masanari Sakae. Sketch 2: The LF-CC concept in early 2012.
    C
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      Carmaker1
    • September 5, 2014
    Not sure how he worded that, but the LF-CC merely hinted at it somewhat. Most of the pre-board selection design work or designer competition for the RC would've taken place in 2010-11 or basically prior to early 2012. LF-CC development was during the first half of 2012, which followed whenever Toyoda-san and his board would've approved the first full size clay replica of the RC (likely January 2012). By the time everyone saw the LF-CC pictures leak, the RC design-wise was already final at home. Chief engineer Yaguchi-san and Lexus designers commented that the LF-CC "hinted" at already finished cars, the 2014 IS and 2015 RC. I warn people not to fall for "marketing speak", that talk as if you can show a concept car in Paris and take only 3 months to have the production model developed for Detroit. Doesn't work like that. I do serious hunting with whoever I can, to answer such questions for me.
    R
    • R
      RAL
    • September 5, 2014
    Thanks for enlightening me . . . the sketch 2 of the LF-CC is truly beautiful. Thanks for posting; I had tried to post the same sketch and couldn't get it to load. I wish the RC looked this refined.
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    Mike Forsythe
  • September 5, 2014
Thanks Krew! Exciting can't wait to read more!
H
Sounds so exciting... When the RCF will be in The Middle Eastern market?
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    lafars
  • September 5, 2014
"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" from what i've heard the SC 400 was good, but the SC 430 was crap the SC 430 was critisized for being too stiff to be long distant cruiser but also too soft to be a sportscar, add a steering with little to no feedback, bodyroll and a not so well tuned chassis and you end up with a car that wasn't competitive at any area hopefully it's the SC400 your refrencing in the above statement, because TG picked a FWD hyundai coupe over the SC430
    C
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      Carmaker1
    • September 5, 2014
    Likely the Z30 SC, as it was amazing what Erwin Lui came up with in 1988-89 via plaster-filled balloons. That was developed at a time Toyota was very focused and a rich Japanese economy. The Z40 SC (430), of course was a little affected by a complacent Toyota and only on certain design/material aspects. What Sotiris Kovos designed in 1997, had no business being new 13 years later.
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    Tevin
  • September 5, 2014
So the standard RC doesn't get the 3 L LED headlights as an option?
    K
    • K
    • September 5, 2014
    Not in the USA.
    C
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      Carmaker1
    • September 5, 2014
    Quite unfortunate, but I suppose it will in the UK. XS-related coupe is on the table as an RC competitor, but not even close to production.
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    Carmaker1
  • September 5, 2014
Excellent article, as I am sure that required so much effort and attention to detail. I must point out, that the LF-CC was developed parallel to RC final design, based on the XE30 IS and the RC proposal. The original 2010 concept sketch of the 2014 IS matches that of the LF-CC concept sketch. The LF-CC project became underway in early 2012, just as the final RC design proposal was reached. By the summer of that year, the RC body design was finalised/frozen for 2014 production and the LF-CC project was completed for the Paris showing. By the time everyone saw the LF-CC in September 2012, the basic RC was a finished fiberglass 1:1 model sitting in an Aichi design studio. A good preview of this somewhat.
    C
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      Carmaker1
    • September 8, 2014
    It seems that some individuals are now copying and pasting my commentary as there own. SMH
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    Ayo DocMkize
  • September 6, 2014
My only wish for the RC coupe was that the same Chief engineer Mister Haruchiko Tanahashi who was responsible for the LFA development be put in charge of this project since he has supercar development experience but keeping down cost way below the 100k mark.
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    lexlov
  • September 6, 2014
I really wish that for once Lexus would bring around a car that after all take aside and driving dynamics. etc etc pleasure of drive etc etc the only thing that to a lot of people matters is numbers. Theres really no excuse to bring around a car like this with 0-60 and 1/4 mile figures slower than all its competitors especially BMWs 435 vs RC350 and RC-af being pretty slower than the M4 Whenever that day arrives a new clientele will rise to respect the lexus "performance" brand.

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