By: Jonathan Wooley and Yousef Alvi
This car, like the IS, has a button on the console for Eco/Normal/Sport/Sport+. It’s not a dummy-button. The button is real; it makes acute changes to the drivetrain, throttle response, steering, and suspension. And the way for a CAR GUY to unlock the codes & fully appreciate this car… is to understand & mentally adjust how this button should work – instead of how it does work.
OEM protocol is – when you start the RC, it automatically sets itself in ‘normal’. For the masses, that’s just fine. But for a car guy – that’s no good. Because ‘normal’ subliminally manipulates (and dulls) your thought process. When you start your drive in ‘normal’, you tend to keep it in ‘normal’. Zone out rather than zone in… and probably only think about flipping to Sport+ when an exciting curve comes up… or when you’re on the pole at a traffic light. But there is more to be had with the RC – much more.
So here’s the key to the city: Instead of thinking about the RC as a ‘normal’ car with a ‘sports’ button… think of it as a sports car with a ‘normal’ button.
…And all the sudden the car transforms completely.
Train yourself so that flipping to ‘Sport+’ is just part of the starting sequence (push ignition, flip to Sport+, back out of driveway). Press the ‘traction-control off’ button for 5 seconds, and then put it in manual for more fun and better gas mileage. And what you have – is the pure Lexus RC.
However, when you find yourself in heavy traffic on pitted roads… ‘normal’ is there to take the edge off & the stress out of the experience. We drove this car through downtown Atlanta, flipped to ‘normal’, and potholes were all but forgotten on 19s.
And that’s the impressive/attractive thing about the RC. Most performance/tuner cars are uncomfortable ALL the time, so that we have performance ALL of the time – ready to go on-tap. With the Lexus, you have the option to literally ‘turn off’ that frustration with the flip of a knob… allowing you to enjoy the RC even in traffic, when other performance cars become an exercise on your backside.
The RC is a pure grand-touring car. A car that you can kick sideways, while sitting in heated/cooled seats, and talking to mom hands-free. The 3.5 makes 306hp and 277tq – good enough for a sub-6 0-to-60 and a 14-second quarter-mile time out of the box. The 8-speed transmission will rip off the line (traction-off), yet run down the freeway fast enough to bring the police helicopters out – while getting 26mpgs. And the cabin is quiet enough to where you won’t hear the helicopters bothering you. The transmission is not a dual-clutch unfortunately, but it is nearly dual-clutch fast…this is the same transmission that was in the beloved IS-F, lest we forget that car was a monster that would rip shifts faster then your brain can comprehend.
The wheelbase is 107.5in, the width is 72.4in with the mirrors folded, and the stock height is 54.9in.
It’s heavy, at 3,748lbs. But really – you can replace that word ‘heavy’ with the word ‘solid. It’s like calling The Rock heavy to his face…you’ll just get a solid punch in yours. The suspension (in Sport+) and braking system have got the goods to make that weight confidence-inspiring, rather than sketchy. The beauty of that front grille is a matter of opinion… but what’s fact, is that the grille has front air ducts piping cool air to the front brakes. We recognize that the front-end can be a divisive design, but we applaud the RC for its form following function.
The interior shares the dash layout of the IS, which is a good thing. Fit, finish, and accessibility are well thought out and solid – like a bank vault. And the F-Sport gets a very impressive, motorized gauge cluster (short video link below in blue).
Hard to believe, but the seats in the RC are even better than the IS we drove. In a way, they are almost the soul of the monster. The seats are so good, it’s like they fuse you to the car – two becoming one haha. They sit low, and the console sits high – giving you a very ‘connected’ feel. The low-slung roofline also makes you feel very connected to the car and to the driving experience. The cockpit feels like something of an exotic. At first it almost felt a little claustrophobic, but as we became accustomed to the car, the cockpit became soothing… and a place you didn’t want to leave. If you want to open it up, opt for the sunroof.
Also soothing, is the interior lighting & door panel mood lighting. The dome lights are recessed behind clear lenses. Instead of on/off buttons, just make finger-contact anywhere on the clear lenses to access the lights.
Infotainment is controlled via a well-placed touchpad on the console. Kind of like a new cell phone, it will take a minute to get used to, but it becomes very natural quickly. Compared with other manufacturers, the Lexus infotainment system is top-notch. Everything is laid out clearly. Voice recognition is superb. To unlock all it’s potential, download the Lexus Enform app on your phone, and it gives you access to Bing online search, Yelp, Pandora and a host of other apps. The Lexus app is excellent, and the Bing search is extremely precise.
What did we learn after a week in this car? Well – with every day behind the wheel, we grew more attached. You can quite literally get lost in it’s details. This thing is begging for mods. The RC is a great platform for any enthusiast looking for a well-rounded, all-capable build… and we’re excited to see where the aftermarket takes it.