I’ve been asked by quite a few driving partners on car launches why I prefer an extremely upright seat position behind the steering wheel and I usually disappoint with my unscientific answer.
Whether sitting behind a desk or in a car, I just feel better with a straight back, that’s all.
Apparently, it’s beneficial from a medical point of view, too. But then recently I was forced to jeopardise my health when getting behind the wheel of our Lexus RC350 F Sport test unit. With the car bearing the limited dimensions of a typically low-slung sports coupe, I couldn’t manage the upright gig without my head pressing into the roof and was forced to lower the backrest against my will. While at it, I also decided to move the seat back seeing I had no passenger behind me .
And boy, did that turn out to be the perfect position to occupy when steering this gentleman’s tourer around town. Not only does the RC350 look good – aided by minor external tweaks for the 2019 reincarnation – but it also feels fantastic.
The luxury Japanese brand is renowned for its quality finishing and this baby is no different. Superb leather seats lure you into a cockpit sporting the premium touches you’ve come to experience from Lexus over the years.
And any seat willing to unleash a cooling system on my perspiration-prone lower back is an instant friend of mine.
Touch points on the dash, centre console, and door panels are fitted with leather and the tasteful combination of red and black leather for these areas reminded me of John Cleese’s famous words to his missus in the epic comedy series Fawlty Towers: “It lends a certain ambiance, Sybil.” Grumpy hotel owner Basil was in actual fact talking about a moose head he was hanging in the lobby, but his careful choice of a French word perfectly sums up the expertly crafted and stylish layout of the RC350 F Sport’s interior.
And to maintain this ambiance and stick to its renowned ability to reduce noise inside the cabin to the minimum, Lexus managed to fit probably the most muted V6 powertrain ever to the RC350, a prospect that might just have proper petrolheads wake up in cold sweats in the middle of the night.
Even at the highest revs, the engine doesn’t sing the kind of tunes you’d associate with six cylinders. But adrenaline junkies shouldn’t have to reach for prescription medication, as there is the more manly RC F Track Edition which should behave more beastly.
What the RC350 does feature under the bonnet is the 3.5-litre Lexus dual-injection 2GR-FKS naturally aspirated V6 engine. It is matched to an eight speed transmission with M Mode, allowing full torque-converter lock-up from second to eighth gears, delivering 232kW of power at 6 600rpm and 380Nm of torque at 4 800rpm, equating to a 0 to 100km/h sprint time of 6,3 seconds, topped off by a maximum speed of 230km/h.
To be fair, during accelerating from a standstill, the engine felt slightly sluggish, even when opting for SPORT or SPORT+ in the Lexus Drive Mode Select. But once the car reaches cruising speeds, the engine really comes into its own right with effortless acceleration.
The SPORT and SPORT S+ modes include newly-adopted G-sensor AI-Shift Control, which uses information from the G-sensor on driving status to provide the optimal gear ratio for performance driving. Add to this top-class driveability and handling, an impressive list of safety features, as well as Lexus’ seven-year/ 105 000km warranty and full maintenance plan and you have a very complete tourer.
Yes, for R939 100 you can buy a bigger car with a bigger engine which doesn’t mess up your hairdo when si ing upright. But one offering more ambiance? I bet a crummy old seaside hotel on your answer is no.