With three powertrain choices, terrific styling and aggressive track-ready performance, the 2017 Lexus RC350 leaves much of its competition behind. This little coupe is fast, sporty and loads of fun to drive. Even better, the price tag of the RC350 is below many of its European competitors.
The rear-wheel drive RC350 has a stiff suspension, which gives it great performance if not the smoothest ride on rough roads. The RC350 won’t float you cloudlike over Louisiana’s potholed thoroughfares, but it’ll straighten out hard corners and bust it from red lights. And this is a two-door that will deliver a fun driving experience with a healthy dose of luxury.
Buyers get plenty of choices when it comes to powering the RC, which gets a 241-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine in its base model, the RC200t. Next is a 255-horsepower V6 in the RC300 AWD. The 4-banger produces 258-lb.-ft. of torque, while the V6 comes up with 236 lb.-ft. of torque.
A 306-horsepower V6 mated to an 8-speed transmission is installed in the RWD RC350. The same engine is offered in the AWD RC350, except it gets a 6-speed automatic transmission. This engine produces 277 lb.-ft. of torque.
I had a blast driving the RC down River Road one afternoon during the test week. The little coupe felt planted on the pavement in the winding curves, and it made easy work of passing in short openings on the two-lane roadway.
The cabin of the RC is comfortable with firm bucket seats in front. The driver’s seat adjusts 10 ways while the passenger side seat adjusts eight ways. Both are heated and ventilated. The RC is technically a four-passenger vehicle, but adults are not going to fit in the rear seats. They are pretty much reserved for grocery bags and other small cargo.
Gauges and controls in the RC are logical but numerous, so plan to spend some time familiarizing yourself. The navigation system uses a touch-pad controller that works like the mouse on your laptop. I’m a desktop user who prefers a mouse, so I’m a fan of the Lexus RX, which has a more mouse-like controller.
Standard sound in the RC is via a 10-speaker 256-watt audio system with SiriusXM Satellite Radio. Our test car had the navigation package with an upgraded Mark Levinson premium audio system with 17 speakers and 835 watts of concert hall sound.
New for 2017, the RC gets a black finish on the base grille, a new Caviar exterior color, standard performance dampers on the RWD model and available triple beam LED headlights. Talk about lighting up the road at night!
When it comes to safety, the RC gets top marks from the insurance industry, which is no small feat for a sports coupe, even a luxurious one like the RC. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the 2017 Lexus RC a Top Safety Pick-Plus rating, scoring the car “good” in every category. “Good” is the top score given by the IIHS.
Engineers crammed eight airbags into the RC and made available a wide range of advanced safety technologies, some of which are standard and some optional. Dynamic radar cruise control with a pre-collision avoidance system is a bargain at $500.
The RC350 is equipped with a long list of standard equipment, but options can jack the price up considerably. Our test RC350 had the optional F S PORT package which added more than $4-grand to the bottom line. The base price of the test car was $43,010, but options boosted the bottom line to $57,554. That still beats much of the European competition.
With strong muscular styling and power trains to back it up, the 2017 RC350 is going to delight a lot of sports car enthusiasts.
2017 Lexus RC350
Horsepower / Torque:
306 / 277 lb.-ft.
8-speed automatic with paddle shifters
$43,010 ($56,554 as tested plus freight)
EPA mileage estimates:
19 mpg city / 28 mpg highway / 22 mpg combined
Estimated highway range: