Reviews

2015 Lexus RC Walk Around

Size-wise, the 2015 Lexus RC coupe is about an inch longer and an inch wider than the Lexus IS sedan, though it rides on a wheelbase about three inches shorter (therefore more overhang). It also sits more than an inch lower. Compared with the BMW 4 Series, the Lexus RC is about two inches longer, and about an inch taller. Although bigger than its German rival, the RC still feels relatively compact, as opposed to the BMW, which can feel like a pretty large car.

Lines on the Lexus RC are mostly a combination of aggressive angles and sharp curves. The RC's big mouth is a familiar but unique take on the Lexus spindle grille, an hourglass shape (which can resemble and upside-down serving bowl) found on the IS and GS sedans. On the RS, the front end is more sharply curved and protruding, most noticeable from the side view.

RC 350 models have a more traditional split front grille, with strong vertical lines on the narrower top portion, and a wide mesh pattern over the large lower air intake, beset on either side by small, round LED foglights. Standard LED headlights are angular and slightly swept back, with Nike-style swoosh LED daytime running lights beneath. Functional air intakes sit at the base of the RC's wide front fenders. F Sport editions get a single-piece black mesh front grille covering without foglights.

RC F is slightly lower, longer and wider than the RC 350. The front end is fitted with a single mesh piece over the entire grille opening, creating a gaping maw that looks like it might swallow any cars in front of it. Bigger lower air intakes help to cool the big V8 under the hood.

From the side, it's easy to see the RC's low, sloping roofline. A strong crease starts behind the front wheel arch, first curving downward, then cutting straight across the body, through the door handle and into the top of the sharply pointed, wraparound tail light. Along the bottom of the RC 350, a distinct rocker panel angles up sharply behind the door and into the rear wheel arch. RC F models get a functional air dam behind the front wheel arch and different, more aggressive rocker panels.

In the rear, angular LED tail lights mimic the swoosh of the LED daytime running lights up front. RC 350s get twin rectangular exhaust pipes, flanked by black contrast horizontal striping on the lower edges of the rear bumper. The RC F gets a rear wing, which automatically raises at speeds over 50 mph and a different rear bumper, with circular staggered quad exhaust pipes.

Interior

Inside, the unique cabin design is practical but also potentially polarizing, with a sharp curves and angles that mimic the RC's exterior design. The protruding, curved dash on passenger side echoes the RC's sharply curved front end, and a slanted instrument panel that is easy to reach, but not particularly easy on the eyes. Although billed as a younger, sexier, Lexus, the RC still keeps an analog clock, which we think is an odd choice.

Seats are supportive and comfortable, especially in the RC F, which holds occupants well around corners. Standard seats upholstery is NuLuxe, a synthetic material made from polyurethane, which designers say holds its shape over time better than leather. An optional luxury package adds perforated leather, but unless you require that leather smell, we don't think you'd miss the cowhide.

The standard 7-inch display sits at the top of the center stack and is set deeply back, which makes for better visibility in bright sunlight. Controls consist of a round knob in the center console, as well as a new touchpad and surrounding buttons that let users draw and tap, similar to the interfaces used by Audi and BMW. We found this relatively easy to use and were able to enter information pretty quickly, though we still think most OE navigation systems are tedious compared with the map apps on most smartphones.

Sound quality from the base sound system is good, and even better from the upgraded Mark Levinson system. Generally, we found iPhone integration to be seamless, although when playing music from our iPhone 5s when tethered via USB, the audio system inexplicably kept turning off. We were in contact with representatives from Mark Levinson, who said they were aware of the problem and were working on it.

The steering wheel is comfortable and meaty, but not overly thick like BMW M cars, for example. Steering-wheel-mounted buttons control audio, phone and cruise control and some menu functions.

The instrument cluster on the RC 350 is composed of analog gauges, with easy-to-read white text on a black background. Models with the F Sport package, as well as the RC F get a TFT instrument cluster that's reconfigurable.

Storage up front is minimal, with two cupholders on the passenger's side of the center console, and a small space within the center armrest. There aren't any extra cubbies or slots on the console for a phone or other small items, and the door pockets aren't wide enough to hold cans or bottles.

Front legroom and headroom is fine for most any size people. The coupe's sloping roofline and nonexistent rear legroom, however, relegate the backseat to small children or cargo, though this is common for the compact coupe segment.

Cargo space is average for small coupe, with 10.4 cubic feet in the RC 350, and 10.1 cubic feet in the RC F. That's on par with the Cadillac ATS coupe, though it falls short of the 15.7 cubic feet in the BMW 4 Series, and the M4's 11 cubic feet.

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