Stick Shift: 2018 Lexus RC350 F Sport

Let’s get the most obvious thing out of the way first. The 2018 Lexus RC350 looks incredible. It’s a sleek, sexy, powerful 2-door coupe. Tac on the F Sport Package, and its curb appeal only goes up. First impressions are the most important, and the RC350 could teach a course on it. With the already large “spindle” grille, exaggerated in F Sport trim, the vents, aero fins, rear spoiler, 19” 10-spoke wheels and painted orange brake calipers, this sleekly drawn Lexus isn’t holding anything back. With obvious nods to the exotic LFA supercar from years past, the Lexus RC350 is visual dynamite. With those incredible proportions and low ride height, it’s easily one of the most dynamic, menacing coupes prowling the streets right now. 

Behind the wheel, the expected level of Lexus polish and refinement can be found throughout. The cabin wraps around you comfortably, the strong horizontal theme dominates the front controls, highly stylized instrument cluster and enlarged 10.3” infotainment center. Front seats are pleasantly comfortable, with extra bolstering in the RC Sport and F Sport models. Materials are top notch and consist of perforated leather, aluminum and genuine wood trims. Back seats can be found, but will only fit small children. They will fold flat though to expand the trunk space.  

Photo via: Lexus

Does the RC350 perform as well as its looks would suggest? That depends on the model you choose. In base form, the little four-cylinder turbo falls short on power, but one step up will get you a 3.5L V6 with enough to spare. In Sport and Sport Plus mode, it accelerates with purpose, pushing you into your seat and filling your ears with a  mechanical symphony of sounds. It’s paired to a fast-reacting 8-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters and a range of driving modes like Eco, Normal and Sport. Each will dramatically change the driving mannerisms of the RC350. In F Sport trim, a Sport Plus mode gets added on as well. The already capable automatic transmission surprises us further by offering manual shift modes as well as predictive shift logic that blips the throttle, smoothing out gear changes. The double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension strikes an impressive balance between comfort and performance. Tightened up or softened out depending on the selected mode and the mood that strikes. Even the electric steering feels responsive and engaged. 

F Sport trim adds a sporty, adaptive variable suspension, those gorgeous rims and exterior cosmetic upgrades like a more aggressively shaped front bumper and larger grille. You’ll also get extra sporty seats and other interior enhancements. General changes for 2018 include five extra horsepower and a list of safety technology that now comes standard. This includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning and automatic headlights. Also new this year is onboard 4G LTE Wi-Fi and an infotainment system that is still far from perfect, but getting a little easier to navigate around in. 

To sum it all up, the new 2018 Lexus RC350 in F Sport trim is undeniably a blend of beauty and menace on the outside. It doesn’t stop there though, adding a top-notch interior and capable performance in V6 form. If you’re still unsatisfied, you can always opt for the extra powerful V8 in the RCF model. The RC350 delivers big on the thrills and curb appeal. It feels assembled with passion and purpose and contains all the visual flair that young, sport coupe buyers are hungry for. 

Price as tested: $57,988.00

By: Brandon Randall

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