By Peter Perrotta
If it looks and sounds like a hot car, is it truly a “hot” car?
That’s a good question. The answer, of course, depends on who you ask.
When it comes to the 2020 Lexus RC 350 F Sport, an all wheel drive coupe that is a sure head turner when you take it down the block, the good looking part of that equation is a certain slam dunk.
The sound part is easy,too.
When you put this coupe, introduced in 2014, in the “sports plus” driving mode it emits a heartwarming exhaust rumble when you accelerate that is quite frankly rather impressive.
So, if you are asking me, the answer should be that this attractive sports car, the coupe version of the IS sedan, is certainly a “hot” performance car.
However, there are those in the automotive press that give this Lexus high marks for its looks, craftsmanship and comfort, but stop short of patting it on the back as a sports performance coupe.
However, for me, the 3.5 liter, V6 engine with a six speed automatic transmission that puts out 311 horsepower at 6,600 pound feet of torque has plenty sports performance in it.
You may not win any Indy races with that powerplant, but it can certainly get you in a whole heap of trouble with your local law enforcement agents if you so chose to get heavy footed with this vehicle.
The 0 to 60 clocking on this snazzy coupe is six seconds. Again, I’m not trying to win the Grand Prix here. But, that is more than enough to get your heart pounding when doing an aggressive pass or just trying to accelerate onto the interstate.
The folks at Consumer Reports say: “The various driving modes sharpen throttle and steering response, but the car’s weight ultimately compromises its agility.”
Personally, I didn’t find that to be true.
I ran this car aggressively through some tricky twists and turns from time to time and thought that it held up quite well. It sticks to the road with very little body lean and I never felt that the car was about to get away from me at any point.
Over at Car and Driver, for comments under “high points” they said: “Fierce body work, surprisingly refined ride quality and spacious cockpit”.
For “lows”: “Back seat is not spacious, contrived touchpad controller, should be quicker.”
I agree on the back seat and the controller, but not on the “should be quicker” comment.
Overall, Car and Driver stated, “The RC has the superficial traits of a sports car but lacks the athleticism.” I’m not sure what these guys were driving, but, sure if you compare it to the AMG Mercedes line, or the M series BMWs, it’s not going to measure up.
But, in reality, there aren’t many roads or circumstances where you can even use the power of this car to its full potential. So, what’s the point of those 500 to 600 horsepower stallions?
Anyway, for the record, my test vehicle has a base price of $50,905. With added options and destination charges, the MSRP sticker price comes in at $57,785.
The added options included: $2,725 for the Navigation/Mark Levinson Audio package; $1,160 for triple beam LED headlamps; $1,100 for a power moonroof; $500 for intuitive parking assist; $150 for an F Sport heated steering wheel and $220 for an all weather package that includes headlamp washers, windshield wiper de-icer, water repellant front door glass and fast-response interior heating.
While the exterior of the RC 350 is certainly an aggressive looking sports coupe, the interior is nicely refined. The ergonomics of the dash and all the controls is expensive looking and sporty at the same time. The front bucket seats are form fitting, firm and comfortable.
And, the Mark Levinson sound premium sound system is simply “off the hook”. It outfits this coupe with 17 speakers that are capable of pumping out 835 watts of premium surround sound. I was quite impressed with this audio system.
The only knock is that the touchpad center console controller that links to the 10.3-inch color screen is at times finicky and clumsy to use when trying to control the phone, music selection or navigation. The voice command system, which bypasses the need for the touch pad controller, works fine, though.
The EPA Department of Transportation fuel economy ratings for this vehicle are 21 miles per gallon overall – with a 24 mpg rating for highway driving and 18 for city driving.
The EPA estimates that the annual fuel cost for operating this coupe to be about $2,300 per year as it uses about 4.8 gallons of gas per every 100 miles.
This vehicle has not been rated by the government for its 5-star safety rating test.
The RC coupe comes in an all wheel drive and rear wheel drive version. It’s available in a 300 model featuring a 2.0 liter 4 cylinder turbo engine that puts out 241 horsepower. There’s a 350 and 350 F Sport with the 3.5 liter, V6 that I drove. And, finally there is a top of the line F model that features a 5.9 liter, V8 that puts out 472 horsepower.
The RC 350 I drove comes with loads of standard equipment, including: 19-inch split, five spoke wheels; F Sport grill; Bluetooth; Apple Car play and Android capability; a rear view camera and loads of the newest safety and technology equipment.
Peter Perrotta’s On The Road column appears weekly. Questions and comments are welcome. He can be contacted at email@example.com