Motoring: 2016 Lexus RC300 AWD F Sport proves less is more
Credit: NAUMAN FAROOQ
The 2016 Lexus RC300 AWD F Sport is a cheaper alternative to its RC350 counterpart, but is the saved money really worth the downgrade?
Last year, I drove the Lexus RC350 F Sport AWD coupe, and its more powerful variant, the RC F, and actually found the less powerful model to be more appealing. Part of the reason was that I felt that the chassis was more suited to the V6 engine than the V8, and the allwheel drive traction was a big plus over the rear-wheel drive RC F.
While both are fine cars, I would choose to spend my money on the less powerful model.
For 2016, Lexus has a new base model of their coupe called the RC300. This model has the same engine, transmission and all-wheel drive system as the RC350, but has one big difference; its power output has been de-tuned by 52 horsepower, so it now produces 255 horsepower. So, the question is would you miss those 52 horses?
That depends on what your priorities are. If all you care about is style and luxury, you’ll be just as happy with an RC300, as you would with an RC350 because they look identical. I tried looking, and couldn’t find anything (other than its model badge) to tell me which model I was looking at. While the RC F model has visibly different body panels, the RC300 and the RC350 are visual twins. That is not a bad thing, since the RC-coupe is a stunning car to behold. Most people love its aggressive styling, and hence you get admiring glances wherever you go. If I could change one thing, it would be its ride height; in standard factory trim, there is too much gap in its wheel wells, a drop of one-inch would do its looks a favour.
It’s good looking from the outside and the theme continues when you open the door. It has one of the most inviting interiors of any sport coupe currently on sale. The design gives you the feeling that you’re in a futuristic spaceship, and there are plenty of gadgets to keep you amused as well. The one that makes your passengers go all wide-eyed in amazement is the dashboard, which in the F Sport model has a portion of its digital display move physically, to show you more details. Purists might think it’s gimmicky, but I doubt hard-core car individuals would be interested in this car anyway, so it suits the style-conscious crowd quite well.
Even the most tech-savvy, however, will likely loathe its touch pad controller for the infotainment system; it is irritating to use, especially on the go, and it ruins an otherwise flawless interior.
All the style and tech stuff is fine, but what’s the RC300 like to drive?
After getting to spend a week with one, I thought it was alright, but I did miss the extra power of the RC350 model. The acceleration in the RC300 is adequate, but it lacks the urgency of the RC350. I thought 52 horsepower wouldn’t make a huge difference, but it does; I missed those horses, and would gladly pay more to have them.
Apart from that, the RC300 is a comfortable, relaxed cruiser, which makes it a good car for road trips…sort of. I say that because the RC300 AWD is quite thirsty; I averaged 12.2 litres per 100 kilometres, which I think is a lot for a car with a 3.5 litre V6 motor. The culprit in my view is its six-speed automatic gearbox. The ratios are too long, and the car is not light either (1,765 kilograms). This car desperately needs an eight-speed auto box, and I hope Lexus is planning on giving it that in the near future.
All in all, I liked the RC300, but while its $48,350 base price is quite attractive in the luxury sport coupe market, I’d spend the extra $10,200 and get the RC350 instead.