Lexus roars into sexy coupe genre with RC 350
A GAME changer. That's how Lexus chief executive Sean Hanley sees the new RC 350, a stylish performance-driven coupe available in Australia from Friday.
Edgy, engaging and attractive, the RC 350 is Lexus's first foray into this segment since the LFA supercar in 2010. It is, however, the luxury car manufacturer's first volume coupe and expectation is high that it will not only take the brand in a new direction in terms of styling and brand experience, but will also engage the type of younger audience also being courted by its main rivals.
"This new vehicle brings a portion of LFA's excitement to a more attainable market segment and it will boost the brand's appeal even further," said Mr Hanley.
"This car will give us a genuine presence in the luxury coupe segment. It is not an adaptive sedan, it is unique in its dimensions and intent and its show stopping styling with such an engaging drive will definitely make it a game changer for Lexus."
The RC 350 is certainly an example of a car being greater than the sum of its parts. It's custom-built chassis is derived from three Lexus favourites - the stiff and responsive from end from the GS, the centre from the IS C for underbody strength and the traction aiding rear end from the IS Sports Sedan. Together they give the RC 350 the stiffness and strength to accommodate a sporty yet supple suspension.
That combination, which produces 233kW of power (6400rpm) and 378Nm of torque, allows the coupe to deliver the power and responsiveness which underpin the passionate performance Lexus is selling here.
As a point of difference and a reason to part with that extra cash, the F Sport adds a Dynamic Handling system which incorporates variable gear ratio steering and dynamic rear steering to add more punch while the top-of-the-range Sports Luxury model also features adaptive variable suspension.
Looks are usually the first thing that draws interest to a coupe and to this end Lexus has opted for a dramatic exterior with flowing lines, wide stance, vertical slats and low wind spindles capturing the interest.
"I knew when we saw this model that we had an instant classic on our hands," said Chief Engineer Eiichi Kusama. "It is a vehicle that would make you want to look back at it when walking away but also provide a feeling of timeless elegance."
Price is another factor Lexus is hoping will make an impression with the RC 350 priced well below offerings from traditional rivals. The entry-model Luxury will start at $66,000 with the F Sport, expected to bring in 50% of sales coming in at $74,000 and the top line Sport Luxury at $86,000.
"Just because you can charge a premium doesn't mean you have to," said Mr Hanley. "The RC 350 has been developed to make a statement and demonstrates that Lexus's focus on dynamics and design can deliver a vehicle that is great to look at and enjoyable to drive.
"We are certain that will resonate with Australian customers."