New L-shaped LED daytime running lights add to the car’s more distinguished appearance. Picture: SUPPLIED
New L-shaped LED daytime running lights add to the car’s more distinguished appearance. Picture: SUPPLIED

The Lexus RC, a niche player in the premium automaker’s line-up, has been given a mid-life nip and tuck for 2019.

The attractive sports coupe was launched in SA in 2014 as a Japanese alternative to cars like the BMW 4 Series, Audi A5 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe. High on good looks if short on rear legroom, the two-door coupe is aimed at individualists seeking to break from the herd.

A facelift sees the sleek coupe endowed with a new front bumper, reshaped headlights, and a new grille mesh pattern to give the car what Lexus describes as a more distinguished appearance.

The rear restyle is aerodynamic as well as cosmetic, with new air ducts added to the corners of the rear bumper for claimed better handling stability. The tail lights now have more pronounced L-shaped lenses that are a new signature design feature for Lexus coupes.

Inside, the car acquires a brushed treatment to some of the controls and panels to generate a classier feel. The car also acquires the premium-looking analogue clock from its bigger brother, the Lexus LC coupe.

It’s a smart cabin with a high-tech look and a premium vibe. The infotainment screen’s a little small compared with the supersized interfaces that are becoming de rigueur and the ergonomics are generally good, with physical buttons to quick-access many features, though the touchpad-style controller between the front seats is finicky to use.

A smart and high-tech vibe for the upgraded cabin. Picture: SUPPLIED
A smart and high-tech vibe for the upgraded cabin. Picture: SUPPLIED

The R939,100 price tag comes stacked with standard safety features, including eight airbags, lane departure alert with lane-keep assist, a pre-crash system with pedestrian detection, cornering and auto-dipping headlamps, and stability control.

The luxury and convenience boxes are ticked with features like electrically adjustable front seats, navigation, a high-end audio system, and an electric sun roof to name a few.

The less powerful RC 300 has been dropped from the line-up and the sole remaining model is the flagship RC 350 F Sport, powered by a normally-aspirated 3.5l V6 petrol with unchanged outputs of 232kW and 380Nm. The rear wheels are fed via an eight-speed automatic transmission.

It is not a blindingly fast car in this age of turbocharged demons, but the performance is smooth and satisfying, and good enough for a 230km/h top speed and sea level 0-100km/h sprint of 6.3 seconds, according to Lexus.

The RC 350 F Sport has that nicely linear acceleration of large capacity nonturbo engines, and the auto transmission is impressively slick, especially in its Sport and Sport S+ settings (it also has Normal and Eco modes if you’re looking to achieve the claimed 9.3l/100km consumption figure). There are also steering paddles for drivers wanting to get more involved in the action.

The car’s most admirable feature is its ride quality, which has become a Lexus trait. Adaptive variable suspension (AVS) electronically adjusts to the driving conditions, making this sports coupe waft comfortably even over imperfect roads.

The suspension firms up when Sports S+ mode is selected, making for neat and assured handling on twisty roads which is further assisted by four-wheel steering — depending on speed, this feature turns the front and rear wheels in the same or opposing directions for optimal agility in all conditions.

The front dampers also stiffen under hard braking to prevent excessive dive, and it’s an all-round feel-good driving experience.

The RC 350 F Sport also acquires the extended new seven-year/105,000km warranty recently introduced across the Lexus range.