Japan’s answer to premium German coupes has arrived locally, with the Lexus RC350 landing priced from $66,000 plus on-road costs, barely $600 more than the IS350 sedan.
As with other Lexus models, three grade levels will be available – the $66K Luxury, climbing to the $74,000 F Sport and $86,000 Sports Luxury.
As Lexus was quick to remind journalists attending the RC350 launch in Melbourne today, the pricing is lower than the $70-90K-plus guessed by media outlets (including CarAdvice) at the international launch of the car in the US in September.
It is also lower than BMW’s 428i ($86,500) and 435i ($108,500) coupe, Mercedes-Benz C350 coupe ($99,545) and Audi A5 3.0-litre TFSI coupe ($98,400), though lower-powered versions of the above can be had for around the $70K mark.
Lexus says highly competitive pricing with more equipment is the key to the brand achieving conquest sales, and its long-term goal of lowering the average customer age.
Lexus estimates 25 to 30 vehicles sold per month on the back of a premium coupe market that has climbed 30 per cent since 2011. It is targeting male buyers with combined household income of over $200,000, with the F Sport model grade set to be the most popular.
The brand claims that not only is there strong interest in the RC coupe, but one dealer already holds six months' worth of orders.
Standard equipment even on the Luxury includes 18-inch machined finish wheels, dual-LED headlights and foglights, front and rear parking sensors with reverse-view camera, keyless auto entry and push-button start, leather-trimmed interior with eight-way electrically adjustable heated and ventilated front seats, 7.0-inch colour centre screen with satellite navigation and Lexus Touch accessibility and Lexus Enform connectivity, 10-speaker audio system with digital radio, dual-zone climate control and electro-chromatic rear view mirror.
The F Sport adds 19-inch alloys, performance twin-piston brakes with high-friction pads, tri-LED headlights, 17-speaker 835-watt Mark Levinson audio, ten-way electrically adjustable front seats, blind-spot monitor, lane-change alert (that detects fast approaching cars from the rear), rear traffic alert and the Lexus dynamic handling package with adaptive variable suspension and four-wheel steering.
Two enhancement packages are available, the first with sunroof ($2500 on both F Sport and also Luxury) and the second ($7300 on F Sport only) with sunroof bundled with several active safety systems; including pre-collision warning, active cruise control, lane departure warning, auto high-beam and smart key card.
The Sports Luxury scores all of the above active safety equipment and sunroof as standard, in addition to its own unique 19s and semi-analine leather trim, and the same tri-LED headlights, 17-speaker 835-watt Mark Levinson audio, and ten-way electrically adjustable front seats with memory as added to the F Sport. It lacks the four-wheel steering of the F Sport, but adaptive variable suspension remains.
Grade specific styling treatments include vertical slat grilles for all except the wire-mesh F Sport.
Four interior colours are available on the top two models – Clove, Black, Topaz Brown and Moonstone – with Dark Rose on F Sport.
The RC350 that Lexus says has been “wholly developed as a GT coupe” utilises a 3.5-litre petrol V6 engine, with eight-speed automatic and three-mode drive selector (two mode for Luxury). As the engine does in the IS350, the RC350 produces 233kW at 6400rpm and 378Nm at 4800rpm.
Lexus claims 0-100km/h in 6.1 seconds and 9.4 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle (the latter down from 9.7L/100km for the IS350 sedan). The underpinnings of the RC is not entirely related to the IS sedan. It borrows the front end of the GS sedan, the middle section from the IS convertible, and the “traction aiding” rear end from the latest IS sedan.
For example, the wheelbase of the RC350 is 70mm shorter than the IS but the front wheels sit 30mm further apart than the bigger GS, and team with a 20 per cent increase in spring rate compared with that latter sedan.
The steering is claimed to be unique to the RC, and the F Sport goes a step further with variable-ratio steering and a four-wheel steering that turns the rear wheels at opposite angle to the front at up to 80km/h. It is claimed to reduce the steering input in a U-turn by 25 per cent and the turning circle by 20cm.
Lexus claims a five-layer paint process that is usually reserved for concept cars has been introduced on the RC as not just a first for the brand, but also a production car-first.
Lexus RC350 pricing (plus on-road costs)
Luxury - $66,000
F Sport - $74,000
Sports Luxury - $86,000