Wednesday, April 8, 2015

New Lexus RC 350 is molten hot, and more

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo reviews of the latest motor vehicle models also can be seen on The Sacramento Bee’s website at

This review originally appeared in the March 2015 edition of the Northern & Central California Cruisin’ News published out of Folsom, California – mg

Sacramento, California Right away, I wondered about the official name of the paint job on the new-for-2015 Lexus RC 350 coupe dropped off for me to try.

It was “Molten Pearl,” appropriate for a color that looked like a hybrid of lava and competition orange.  And yes, the see-it-in-the-dark skin made the low-riding, sleek sports car look like a purpose-built racer.

Paint some numbers on the hood and the sides, I imagine I could have driven it onto the track at Daytona without anybody raising a hand.

Lexus wanted to build a luxury-sport coupe to stand out from the crowd, and let me assure you that they hit that mark dead-center.  On looks alone, the tested RC 350 with the F SPORT package (19-inch wheels, a nav system and super-sporty touches all the way around in a nearly $4,000 option package) would give most performance-craving drivers an itch to lay down some serious cash.  For my ride, the bottom line was $53,140.

The core of the machine is a 3.5-liter, 24-valve, dual-overhead-cam V-6 producing 306 horsepower and 277 foot-pounds of torque.  When right foot is mashed to the floor, there is a most-satisfying growl from the power plant, and the RC 350 easily dispatches pokes on city streets and open highways.

It is nothing short of a fantastic freeway cruiser, because you not only get the horsepower rush, but the frame is sport-tuned to perfection.  Not a wiggle to be found as you’re pushing the car to speeds that might get you in trouble if the right folks are watching.

And yet, be advised that you can turn down the dial to an “ECO” level.  For those who buy sporty transportation for the fuel mileage – and I have no idea who you are – the RC 350 will make 19 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.

Certain civilized things are part of the package, including a helpful blind spot monitor doing duty on both sides of the car.  When the RC 350 is cutting through the traffic, the last thing you want is to be clipped from the side.  The Lexus system, happily, works instantly and is not jarring with too much warning noise.

Less-than-all-out acceleration is smooth and even, a plus when you’re trying to play nice and not draw too much attention to yourself.   I found all-around vision from the cockpit to be somewhat limited, but again, the blind spot monitor made me feel secure when I was putting the car through its paces.

Interior luxury is Lexus-level all the way.  Loved the wood trim in particular.  I did struggle with a center console-mounted touchpad that controlled, among various things, the audio settings.  My stubby fingers managed to send the on-screen cursor into wild gyrations that I’m sure would have generated laughter from Lexus engineers had they been watching.  Let’s just say it took some time for me to get the rhythm of it.

I should point out that there is very little room in the back seat area once the front seats are adjusted for normal-size adults.  I’m not sweating that too much, because this molten mover is not exactly family transportation.

The RC 350 is meant to be unwound and allowed to rip the straights and saw off the corners with effortless sporty attitude.  And it does that quite well.

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