2017 Lexus RC 350 F-Sport Coupe Test Drive

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“2017 Lexus RC 350 F-Sport Coupe”
Three Luxury/Performance Sport Coupes

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The Lexus lineup of luxury / performance sport coupes offers three versions that fall size-wise between their GS and IS model offerings. The base model is the Lexus RC 200T, with a 241 horsepower, 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder twin-scroll turbocharged and intercooled engine; next is the Lexus RC 300 AWD with a 3.5-liter, 255 horsepower V6, followed by two RC 350s – a rear-wheel drive version RC 350 and the Lexus RC 350 AWD (All Weather Drive). There is also an F-Sport variant available for all. Reviewed here will be the 2017 Lexus RC 350 F-Sport Coupe, powered by a 3.5-liter, DOHC, 24-valve V6 with dual VVT-I and Stoichiometric Direct Injection with secondary port injectors that delivers 306 horsepower at 6,400 rpm along with 277 pound feet of torque at 4,800 rpm. The engine’s driving force reaches the rear wheels via an 8-speed Sport Direct Shift, electronically controlled automatic transmission with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.

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The F-Sport is distinguished by exclusive exterior design and interior features, and it ups the performance ante with a standard, tuned Adaptive Variable Suspension system and the available Lexus Dynamic Handling system, which includes rear-wheel steering, along with a host of luxury upgrades.

The chassis of the Lexus RC lineup is unique, despite the fact that it draws from the architecture of other Lexus vehicles. Its front end is based on the Lexus GS, which set new standards for stiffness and chassis response in a mid-sized sedan.

The rear of the RC platform is based on the new-generation IS sport sedan, noted for its performance and handling mettle. In the middle, the structure needed to maintain rigidity with its two large door openings, so Lexus borrowed this section from the IS convertible structure.

None of these platform sections was taken directly from the other cars, but rather, each contributed more than the sum of its parts to the overall chassis package. The resulting platform was fine-tuned by Lexus to provide the specific high-performance character sought for its new coupe.

The eight-speed Sports Program Direct Shift transmission debuted in the IS F high-performance sedan. The SPDS transmission blends torque converter smoothness with the shifting speed of a dual-clutch unit when shifting manually. A long-travel damper for the lock-up torque converter boosts fuel economy and ensures smooth, quiet lock-up.

The SPDS transmission features three driver-selectable modes – NORMAL, SPORT and MANUAL, which have full torque-converter lock-up from second to eighth gears for “clutchless” manual shifting. Downshifts are made in just 0.10-second in M mode, with the transmission’s throttle blipping control matching the engine speed to the gear. The transmission’s eight ratios were chosen to balance performance driving and fuel efficiency. Compared to the Lexus six-speed automatic transmission, first gear is 8.5 percent shorter and top gear is 2.9 percent taller.

The transmission’s SPORT mode includes G-sensor AI-Shift control, which uses information from the G-sensor on driving status to provide the optimal gear ratio for sporty driving. NORMAL mode provides fuel economy and seamless acceleration. It utilizes all eight gears for optimum fuel economy.
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Using a dial on the console, the driver can literally “dial in” the performance response and feel desired from the car through the Drive Mode Select system. Drive Mode Select tailors the vehicle’s powertrain, electric power-assisted steering assist curve, air conditioning and, on F SPORT, suspension response. Modes include NORMAL, SPORT S and ECO in the RC 350. The F SPORT adds a SPORT S+ mode for maximum handling performance from AVS suspension and the available Dynamic Handling System. RC 350 F SPORT takes handling capability to the next level with its Adaptive Variable Suspension system and the Lexus Dynamic Handling system with Dynamic Rear Wheel Steering.
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As far as their visual and emotional appeal is concerned, all Lexus RC (let’s have RC stand for “Racy” or “Radical” Coupe) models display specific treatments of the signature “Spindle” grille as a starting point. Front air inlets and fog lamps take on a different persona from model to model. The curved nose of the RC Coupes flows up and over the sharply raked windshield, slipping down to the short deck that’s accentuated by the integrated decklid spoiler and curving inward and emphasizing the minimal rear overhang. Exhaust treatments differ as well, with long oval shaped V6 outlets, and staggered or canted twin dual round tips. In profile, the Lexus RC in any of its versions is sleek, aerodynamic and sexy.
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The Lexus RC 350 F-Sport might best be described as wrapping cool over function, without any design compromise. It is a pure 2+2 coupe, with the comfort priority placed on the front seats. There’s room in the rear seat for diminutive types, but the RC was designed first and foremost to favor the driver and front passenger.

The low profile and wide-stance of Lexus RC 350 F-Sport Coupe with its short wheelbase and large diameter wheels was penned to generate instant admiration. The 2017 RC is distinguished by a new Scout® GPS Link, a base black grille finish, new finishes for the 18- and 19-inch wheels and new available triple LED Premium Headlamps. All RC models turn a smartphone into a navigation system with the standard Scout® GPS Link for models equipped with Lexus Display Audio. With the app on the driver’s paired phone, navigation maps and turn-by-turn directions appear on the vehicle’s central display screen. An integrated Lexus Navigation System remains an option.
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My test 2017 Lexus RC 350 F-Sport Coupe wore an exterior finish coat of Infrared metallic and sported a Bone and Charcoal toned leather interior with machined metal trim accents. The base price was set at $43,010., while the F-Sport Package and other options elevated the final sticker total to $56,323.

SUMMARY: The 2017 Lexus RC 350 F-Sport is stunningly gorgeous to behold, and is exhilarating to drive. Yes, there are other great looking cars in this market category and price range, but we’re not making a comparison here with other vehicles folks, just providing the facts.

The V6 powered RC 350 is more than an adequate performer. It is impressive in either the automatic or manual mode, but the exhaust note is stimulating to say the least, and the automatic throttle blipping is exhilarating. Acceleration was instantaneous, shifting was both smooth and responsive and the handling characteristics were sporty and athletic. The ride quality was firm and supportive but also comfortable.
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Safety, connectivity and entertainment features abound as well, with all the usual fare – Mark Levinson, Enform, etc. We didn’t spend a lot of time with the nuts and bolts of these areas though, because we were actually focused more on the joy of driving that this gem from Lexus provided.

The 2017 Lexus RC 350 F-Sport model offers exclusive handling technologies. A combination of Adaptive Variable Suspension and the Lexus Dynamic Handling with Dynamic Rear-wheel Steering system turns the RC 350 F SPORT RWD into a capable track car, but with a refined sophistication. The LDH system integrates operation of electric power-assisted steering to control steering torque, variable gear ratio steering to control front-wheel steering angle and Dynamic Rear-wheel Steering system.
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In the final measure, the Lexus RC 350 F-Sport is an extremely attractive machine that delivers large doses of luxurious comfort and stimulating performance capability.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2017 Lexus RC 350 F-Sport Coupe

Base Price: $43.010.
Price as Tested: $58,323.

Engine Type and Size: 3.5-liter DOHC, 24-valve V6 with Direct and Port injection, VVT, cool air intake and sound generator.

Horsepower (bhp): 306 @ 6,400 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 277 @ 4,800 rpm

Transmission: 8-speed automatic with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.

Drive Train: Longitudinally mounted front engine / RWD

Suspension: Front – Double wishbones with high-mount upper arms, coil springs, gas-filled shock absorbers, stabilizer bar.
Rear – Multilink, coil springs, gas-filled shock absorbers, stabilizer bar.

Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel vented discs with ABS,EBD, BA, VSC, and TRAC – all integrated with VDIM.

Tires: Dunlop SP Sport Maxx 050 – Front-235/40 R19 96Y / Rear – 265/35 R19 94Y mounted on 5-machine-spoke interwoven with charcoal painted “V”-Spokes.

Wheelbase: 107.5 inches
Length Overall: 184.8 inches
Width: 81.5 inches – mirrors unfolded.
Height: 54.9 inches
Curb Weight: 3,748 lbs. to 4,828 lbs.
Turning Circle: 34.2 ft.
Fuel Capacity: 17.4 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 19 mpg city / 28 mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: 0.292
0 – 60 mph: 5.8 seconds / Top Track Speed=143 mph

Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.

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