By: Jason Woosey
While its outlandish, aggressive design is certain to polarise all the armchair design critics out there, you really can't accuse this new two-door Lexus of being boring.
Lexus describes its new beast as a refreshing departure in a sea of platform sharing in that it was developed "from the ground up" as a stand-alone coupé rather than just a two-door version of a sedan. That said, it does borrow many of its underside bits and pieces from the IS and GS sedans and while it's closer to the smaller of the two in length, it matches the GS in width.
For now it's only being offered in South Africa in RC 350 F-Sport form, at R730 900, but a lower-priced, turbo-charged RC 200t is set to join the range in EX trim in a few months from now.
Sadly, the V8-powered RC F is not expected to show up for the local M4/RS5 bun-fight.
V6 FIRE POWER
The RC 350 is powered by a normally aspirated 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine, which produces 233kW at 6400rpm and 378Nm at 4800rpm, allowing a 6.3-second 0-100km/h sprint at sea level and a 230km/h top speed, according to its maker.
Power goes to the back wheels through a multi-mode, eight-speed automatic transmission with 'blipping control' that matches engine speed to the current gear. Official fuel consumption is listed at 9.4 l/100km on the combined cycle.
Much of the engineering emphasis was put on corner carving to that end it sports many unique suspension components and a stiffer spring rate than its sedan siblings, while the chassis itself is more rigid. Also furthering its cause are chunky 19-inch alloy wheels sporting a unique design with overlaid spokes.
To ensure that agility doesn't come at the cost of a comfy ride, the RC 350 F is fitted with electronically controlled dampers that lower the damping force on rougher roads and increase it when greater agility is called for via the Sports S+ drive mode.
NO NEED FOR OPTIONS
This is one of many 'toys' that you'll find inside the RC and Lexus has packed so many standard features into this car that it deems an options list totally unnecessary.
For starters you get a 256-watt 10-speaker Pioneer sound system linked to a seven-inch display with satnav and reverse camera, all operated through the latest-generation LRT touch pad. Other spec highlights include an electrically-operated moonroof, Automatic High Beam headlights (which automatically dip when an oncoming car is sensed), dual zone climate control, eight-way electric steering adjustment and Lane Departure Alert.
The grippy sports seats are electrically adjustable up front and upholstered in either Dark Rose or Black leather. Facing the driver is an electronic instrument cluster inspired by that in the LFA supercar.
As mentioned, the RC 350 F Sport will set you back R730 900, including a four-year/100 000km warranty and maintenance plan. While it lacks the turbo advantage of its closest rival, the 225kW/400Nm BMW 435i, the Lexus does cost over R20 000 less and that's before we begin analysing the options list, which we won't do as it would probably take all day.
But the bigger question is: do you love or loathe this new Japanese contender?