Lexus has high hopes that its 2015 RC 350 will be a major challenger in the luxury sports coupe market, a segment previously dominated by brands like BMW, Audi and Mercedez Benz.
In an effort to redefine the brand, the latest offering from the Japanese automaker has deviated from its usual remit in its introduction of the powerful RC 350, “We want to make a bold statement,” said Vice President of Lexus marketing, Brian Smith. The RC is intended to “change the face of Lexus.”
Since its launch in 1989, the Lexus brand has stood for luxury, refined engineering and an outstanding customer experience, proven recently when they retained their ranking as Britain’s ‘Best Car Dealer’ in the 2014 Auto Express Driver Power survey. This combination meant Lexus proved successful with the baby boomers, the RC models however, seek to tempt a younger generation.
In order to please these consumers, Lexus’ usual reliable build quality and luxury designs will require a little added excitement. “If you want people to fall in love with your cars, it has to be about more than quality. That didn't happen with a lot of Lexus products in the past,” Smith said. “We want a more emotional connection with our cars.”
However, Lexus fans needn't worried as the RC has a fair amount of recognisable features from its existing models in the new design. Powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine and available in rear- or all-wheel drive, the RC 350 shares the same eight-speed, direct-shift transmission used in the IS F performance saloon. As well as this, the Lexus RC’s platform is based on the front structure and suspension of the Lexus GS as well as the centre and rear underbody of the IS resulting in a significantly stiffer platform than that the IS.
The RC 350 F, a higher performance model in the range, offers quick, controlled handling thanks to its variable suspension and variable-gear-ratio steering. One of its signature technologies is the rear-wheel steering system, which is designed for tighter turns and more agile changes in direction.
For customers who seek something even more powerful, the RC F is a sports coupe built for the track, including a 5.0-liter V-8 that puts out 467 horse power and 527 N*m of torque (0-to-60 time is 4.4 seconds). For dynamic handling, the RC F has a Torsen rear differential that directs torque to the outside wheel when turning corners.
It takes only a glance to see this is a different kind of Lexus. Their master craftsmen have infused the RC design with deeply contoured lines never before seen in the Lexus line-up. The Lexus signature spindle grill is instantly recognisable but this is the widest and lowest application of this feature seen so far.
Overall, the RC is a lot of fun. At a recent media event at the Monticello Motor Club it caused quite a stir and more than impressed those present. The Lexus RC is a much more exciting model than its predecessors yet retains the charm and reliability that Lexus have built their success on. With pre-orders currently being taken, it has the potential to become a major new challenger in the sports coupe market.