New & Used Lexus RC: In Depth
2015 Lexus RC FEnlarge Photo
The Lexus RC is coupe spin-off of the Lexus IS sedan range and is a new model for the 2015 model year. Drivetrain options range from a V-6-powered rear-drive RC350; an RC350 with all-wheel drive; and the sporting RC F, powered by a brawny V-8 engine.
With the new RC, Lexus finally has a direct rival for cars like the Audi A5, BMW 4-Series, Infiniti Q60, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe, as well as Cadillac's new two-door ATS. The RC follows somewhat in the footsteps of the old SC coupes that helped launch the Lexus brand in the '90s, although it is easily the sportiest two-door the brand has offered, save for the wild and exotic LFA.
MORE: Read our 2015 Lexus RC review
The 2015 RC Coupe can be thought of as a near-replacement for the IS C hardtop convertible, which runs out a final model year in 2015. This new model promises to be much more sporty, though, and as yet does not offer a convertible-top option.
Lexus offers two powertrains in the RC: The V-6-powered RC 350 has a 314-horsepower, 3.5-liter engine, while the RC F receives a 467-horse V-8 lifted from the previous IS F sedan. All RCs use an eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters, and there is no manual transmission available. A first for a mass-market Lexus coupe, the RC 350 offers all-wheel drive as an option, while the rest of the RC lineup is rear-drive.
At about 185 inches long, the RC is just slightly longer than the IS sedan and, like that car, shares a platform with the somewhat larger GS sport sedan, though the midsection is derived from the outgoing IS C and the rear end from the new-for-2014 IS sedan. A wheelbase that's several inches shorter gives the proportions a different look than either sedan; it has a more swept-back appearance, with some fairly ostentatious accents—not just for Lexus, but for any brand playing in the segment.
The spindle grille in front is the most abrasive part of the appearance, as it is on most other modern Lexuses; behind there it's all grace, however, with nice, flowing sheetmetal from the fenders; a smooth roofline; and a surprisingly well sculpted rear deck that escapes the brand's usual anonymity. Sporty 18- and 19-inch alloys fill out the fenders nicely and set a good stance. Inside, the multi-tier cockpit look given to the latest IS and GS looks fresh here, too, with excellent materials, including real wood and leather.
The base RC 350 has ample acceleration and a supple ride, but is dialed down from the stiffness baked into a garden-variety BMW 4-Series. The RC F is a beast of a two-door, with an angry V-8 snarl and a 0–60 mph time of 4.4 seconds, as well as a top speed of 170 mph. It's a version that's come much closer in this edition to the BMW M3's standard of high performance and high-speed handling stability--but it's also a hefty car, with nearly 4,000 pounds pressing its wheels to the ground.
Both the RC 350 and RC F are two-door, four-seat cars. The rear seats can fit full-size adults in a pinch, but you'll want to avoid long-distance cruising with four onboard. Like in the latest IS sedan, the interior boasts upgraded materials that avoid the dark and dreary look of predecessors, with Lexus recently adding leather outside the black and beige spectrum. The front seats are also very supportive.
On the tech front, the RC is the first Lexus to get the brand's latest blind-spot monitoring system, which can better detect fast-moving vehicles approaching from behind. The Lexus Remote Touch interface has also been updated, now using a touchpad in place of the finicky mouse-like controller that was used previously. Remote Touch is the console-mounted control for things like audio, navigation, and system settings.
Like most Lexus models, the RC is well-equipped when it comes to safety. The RC has been named an IIHS Top Safety Pick+, as it scores top 'Good' ratings in all categories and also carries a sold complement of active safety features. It hasn't yet been tested by the NHTSA, but it should get a good rating like its sister the IS sedan does. Fuel economy ranges from 19 mpg city and 28 highway for the rear-drive RC 350 to 15 mpg city and 25 highway for the V-8-powered RC F model.