2016 Lexus RC 300 F Sport

Test Drive: 2016 Lexus RC 300 F Sport

Regardless of age, we all harbour some level of juvenility; it’s what keeps us young-at-heart, yet sometimes gets us into trouble. Every guy knows this, and I suspect every woman may as well, though they seem far more effective at managing the affliction.

So how does one’s juvenile streak relate to the review of a new Lexus coupe?

The answer lies in the vehicle’s ability, when equipped with the F Sport Package, to complement the youthfulness we like to express when the proper driving-opportunity presents itself. And for this, the F Sport badge carries with it Variable Adaptive Suspension, 19-inch wheels, a torque-vectoring differential, and a little gem referred to by Lexus as Active Sound Control.

It’s the latter element that feeds the “juvenile” appetite by increasing the engine’s auditory track seductively piped through the vehicle’s audio system. While it doesn’t induce an ear-splitting staccato – far from it actually – it definitely enhances the engine’s growl and bark, though no additional horsepower is gained, nor is the sound track played outside the car.

Nonetheless, setting the active suspension to Sport S or Sport S+, while maxing the active sound control, significantly alters the RC 300’s demeanor to complement that of the juvenile lurking within. Now keep all this in perspective. The car does not become a Porsche GT3. It does, however, leave its Lexus civility behind…just not that far behind.

The RC 300 is the entry point in Canada for the RC coupe, which means that it’s equipped with a polished 3.5-litre V6 engine producing 255 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. While that’s not going to intimidate the German competition, it’s capable of moving the RC with more than enough authority for most Lexus owners.

Power is fed to all four wheels through the auspices of a six-speed automatic transmission featuring LFA-inspired shift paddles. In Canada, all RC 300s and RC 350s receive the added traction of all-wheel-drive (AWD). Regrettably, a true manual gearbox is not available. Too bad. Some juveniles need the stick over the carrot.

With youthful abandon suitably suppressed, adults seeking a refined – yet moderately sporty – driving experience will appreciate the silky smooth operation of the RC 300 and its exceptionally well-damped ride quality; frankly, Lexus nailed ride quality.

It took only a few blocks of pavement wounded by construction work to appreciate the rigidity of the RC’s chassis. No flex, no rattles, and no squeaks.

The vehicle’s sport-tuned variable adaptive suspension absorbs bumps and bruises without jarring the cabin or unsettling the car’s tracking ability. The underpinnings really are top-notch, and contribute to the coupe’s impressive cornering competency.

Front row seating in the RC 300 is exceptionally supportive and comfortable – though not so in the rear. Leg amputation would be a must for any adult seated behind me. Drawing my seat forward in an act of benevolence would compromise an otherwise perfect RC driving position.

Perfection only goes so far though within the high-tech Lexus cabin.

The F Sport package comes and with an instrument panel inspired by the LFA super-car. This Thin Film Transistor (TFT) setup situates a large tachometer front-and-centre of the driver, and that was good.

Not good is a relatively small digital readout for vehicle speed rather than a proper analogue speedometer. This is only an issue with the F Sport option, otherwise a more conventional set of analogue dials manage engine and vehicle-speed readouts in both the RC 300 and RC 350.

The second miss for me was the new Lexus Remote Touch interface pad, which replaces an older mouse-style application. Unfortunately, I found the Remote Touch pad frustrating to use and more challenging to adapt to than the previous setup. But I’m old too, and maybe that’s the real problem.

Despite a few cabin foibles, the RC 300 equipped with the F Sport Package is in many ways a rewarding coupe to pilot whether commuting through town or embracing life on twisty back roads.

And while it’s the best-looking Lexus in the showroom these days, it too struggles to keep its juvenile side in-check. Of course, when the moment’s right, the Lexus RC 300 F Sport allows both men and women to release a sliver of immaturity and buy back a fragment of misspent youth.

2016 Lexus RC 300 F Sport
Trim level: F Sport
Price as tested (before taxes): $55,871.25
Configuration: front-engine, all-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 3.5L 6-cylinder/ 6-speed automatic
Power/torque: 255 hp/ 236 lb-ft
Fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): city: 12.6, hwy: 9.2 L/100 Km
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km): 13.8 L/100 km
Basic warranty: 4-years/80,000 km (basic)
Competitors: Acura TLX, Audi A5, BMW 428ixDrive, Cadillac ATS, Infiniti Q60

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