Lexus took a big charge at its German rivals when it introduced the sporty RC coupe four years ago going toe-to-toe against established coupes like the BMW 4 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe and Audi A5. Like these cars, the Lexus RC offers a broad mix of powertrain options that deliver performance ranging from mild to wild. With an updated RC coming for the 2019 model year, we take one last look at the current car spending a week with this 2018 Lexus RC 350 F Sport.
2018 Lexus RC 350 Exterior
While the refreshed 2019 RC gives this coupe a cleaner, more contemporary look, the 2018 Lexus RC is still quite the looker! The bold styling has aged quite well – despite its polarizing grille – thanks to the long nose, wide rear end and the sporty, low-slung stance.
Every angle of the 2018 Lexus RC 350 has a stunning look, which is made even better with several options included on this tester starting with the $4,105 F Sport package. From the outside, this might seem like a mere appearance package with its 19-inch, 10-spoke wheels and bolder mesh-style grille, but you get a lot more for your money on the inside. This tester was also equipped with premium triple beam LED headlights ($1,160), LED fog lights ($410) and orange brake calipers ($300), which added a little extra visual pop in contrast to the Atomic Silver paint job.
2018 Lexus RC 350 Interior
As bold as the exterior design is, the interior of the 2018 Lexus RC is a little more conservative with an almost-identical look to the cabin of the Lexus IS (the RC is essentially the coupe version of Lexus’ entry-level luxury sedan). Like the IS, the RC has a driver-focused cabin with a wide center console and large gauge cluster. Speaking of the gauges, the F Sport package brings the signature cluster with a motorized central display that can move to reveal more info from a digital display; this layout was first introduced on the LFA supercar. This package also brings heated and cooled front seats, perforated leather on the steering wheel and shift knob, aluminum foot pedals and a power-adjustable steering column. All 2018 Lexus RC coupes now come standard with Lexus Enform Wi-Fi as well as Lexus Enform Service Connect and Safety Connect, which are both complimentary for the first 10 years of ownership.
Generally speaking, coupes usually aren’t purchased for their practicality, but the RC 350 does offer a decent amount of cabin space. Headroom and legroom are no problem for the driver and front passenger, and even the two back seats – while mostly designed with kids in mind – still have enough space to fit adults in a pinch. On paper, the trunk’s 10.4 cubic feet of luggage space might sound small, but the large opening and low lift over make it easy to get stuff in and out.
2018 Lexus RC 350 Powertrain
Including the performance-tuned RC F, the 2018 Lexus RC is available with four different engine options, but the RC 350 easily offers the most bang for the buck with Lexus’ venerable 3.5-liter V-6 under the hood. This is the same engine used in the RC 300 AWD, but it is tuned a lot higher with an output of 311 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque (compared to 260 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque) and is paired with the eight-speed automatic instead of a six-speed auto. The key benefit of this engine is Toyota’s D4-S fuel injection that combines the benefits of both direct and port fuel injection to balance performance and efficiency.
Despite a somewhat hefty curb weight of 3,748 pounds, the RC 350 delivers decent acceleration with Lexus claiming a 0-60 time of 5.8 seconds along with a quarter mile time of 14.3 seconds and a top speed of 143 mph. If you can resist the urge to test the car’s zero to 60 capabilities, you’ll have no problem hitting the EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway**. The 2018 Lexus RC 350 is a well-balanced coupe with a weight distribution of 54/46, but the F Sport package sweetens the deal with larger front brakes (14.02 inches up from 13.15 inches), Adaptive Variable Suspension and a Sport + driving mode. This tester was also equipped with a Torsen limited slip rear differential ($390) and the variable gear ratio steering ($1,900).
2018 Lexus RC 350 Safety
The 2018 Lexus RC has not been rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but this car is loaded with plenty of safety features – all standard, of course. This includes eight airbags, but new for 2018, the RC now comes with Lexus Safety System+, which includes pre-collision system, lane departure alert with steering assist, intelligent high beam and high-speed dynamic radar cruise control.
2018 Lexus RC 350 Overall
In a world of crossovers, SUV and pickup trucks, luxury coupes are a refreshing way to enjoy driving. After spending a week in the 2018 Lexus RC 350 F Sport, it’s easy to see that this coupe is much more than just a pretty face. Unlike some of its contemporaries, the RC isn’t brutal to drive around town, but it isn’t afraid to carve some corners either. Bottom line, the 2018 Lexus RC is fun to drive, fun to look at and just plain fun to be around.
Even better, you won’t have to break the bank to drive this stylish coupe as the base 2018 RC – the turbocharged RC 300 – costs less than its BMW, Audi and Mercedes rivals with a starting price of $40,640*. Stepping up to the peppier RC 350 increases the price point to $43,570*, while this decked-out tester added the style-oriented F Sport and a handful of other options raising the as-tested price to $56,655.
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation-affiliated Lexus dealership and test drive the fun and sporty 2018 Lexus RC today!
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2018 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.