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Geneva show: Lexus adds drive to RC range

Sporting chance: Lexus has plumped up its RC coupe to add the RC 350 F Sport featuring more driver-focused packaging, including all-wheel steering.

Driver-focused RC350 F Sport to add depth to Lexus coupe line-up


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3 Mar 2014

LEXUS has filled a hole in its upcoming RC line-up, revealing a version of the two-door coupe that will slot in between the RC350 and the range-topping – for now – RC F.

Dubbed the RC 350 F Sport, the more driver-friendly version of the BMW 4 Series-fighting RC features supercar-derived styling, adjustable suspension and rear-wheel steering to sharpen its dynamics.

The newest RC will make its debut at this week’s Geneva motor show alongside a more hardcore GT3 track car concept.

The latest addition to the growing four-seat RC family features a similar spindle grille that is starting to define the Lexus brand, although for this car it seems to be designed to gulp in air at a much higher rate than its less performance-oriented V6-engined RC350 sibling.

Visually, the RC350 F Sport includes a more aggressively aerodynamic bodykit designed to increase roadholding, including sculpted rocker covers, vents to feed cooling air into the front brakes, and foglights integrated into the grille. It sits on unique 10-spoke 19-inch alloys.

The rear of the car features trapezoidal, chrome-tipped exhaust pipes poking out from a shallow, blacked-out rear diffuser, with small, almost LFA supercar-styled features built in below the tail-lights.

Inside, the LFA connection continues, with an instrument cluster featuring a similar moveable centre ring similar to the Lexus-badged supercar, sports bucket seats, and F Sport highlights including the steering wheel and gearshift knob.

The key to the more sports-focused road car, though, is the dynamic suspension system shared with the Lexus GS mid-size coupe range.

In normal driving mode, the suspension system – double wishbone at the front and multi-link at the rear – will automatically tune the RC350 F Sport’s ride to the road surface, providing the best possible ride.

However, according to Lexus, dial the setting up to Sport+ and the suspension provides improved body control and more responsive steering input as it remaps the electrically assisted power steering unit to firm it up.

As part of its “Lexus Dynamic Handling” system, the newest RC includes four-wheel steering that points the rear wheels slightly in the same direction as the front wheels at higher speeds, maintaining stability.

The steering system is able to detect values such as yaw rate, steering angle and speed to select the rear wheels’ turn-in to an angle of two degrees.

It can also help with high-speed cornering, improving turn-in response and rear grip by turning the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the front wheels, the car-maker says.

Under the bonnet, the 3.5-litre V6 will pump out 234kW of power from a high 6400rpm, while torque for the normally aspirated engine will max out at 380Nm from 4800rpm. Power will be sent to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Meanwhile, a track-honed GT3 version of the car weighing the same as a Toyota Corolla hatchback also has its international reveal at this week’s Geneva show.

The RC F GT3, officially a concept but unofficially a teaser for international racing teams keen to add a Lexus badge to the garage, features a retuned version of the RC F’s 5.0-litre V8, producing just shy of 400kW compared with the road-going version’s 330kW.

However, instead of the RC F’s lairy double-stacked exhaust pipes, the race-ready version of the car uses side-exit exhausts poking subtly through the rocker sill.

Lexus is using the RC coupe to boost its image from sensible luxury car-maker to a desirable performance-focused brand, with a statement saying the RC has been developed to appeal to a broader customer base “while injecting emotional appeal into the Lexus DNA that is synonymous with build quality, refinement and reliability”.

A spokesman for Lexus Australia said the luxury arm of Japanese car-maker Toyota hoped to have the RC on sale in Australia either late this year shortly after the range’s Japan market launch, or early in 2015.

Lexus has flagged the RC will also have a hybrid version as part of the model line-up.

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