If you want to get noticed, drive a stylish Lexus coupe in an eye-catching bright yellow down the road. It’ll get you looks every time, as I recently discovered during my stint behind the wheel of the 2018 Lexus RC 300.
2018 Lexus RC 300 F Sport
The RC 300, formally the 200t, is the lineup’s entry-level coupe that starts from around $40K and works its way past the $50K mark depending on trim and options. My rear-wheel drive F Sport model sits near the more expensive end of that spectrum with its performance and style upgrades, which include adaptive variable suspension, an LFA-inspired digital instrumentation, and exclusive wheels.
There’s no denying the RC 300’s sexy good looks (it does share lineage with the RC family after all.) All RC 300’s comes with standard dual chrome exhaust, LED headlights and running lights.
The F Sport Package replaces 18-inch wheels with 19-inch ones, plus adds an F Sport exclusive spindle grille (which dare I say I like) along with a unique bumper. My Flare Yellow tester came with optional LED foglights ($410), a rear spoiler ($399) and orange brake calipers ($300).
Performance, Ride, and Handling
To me, the RC 300 delivers less of a fun-to-drive cornering sports car ride and more of a smooth “oh this feels so good” ride of a touring car. Its ride quality is excellent – smooth as butter even – and it’s quiet. Cruising down the highway snug in its contoured and bolstered F Sport seats was quite a treat.
My RWD model came with the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine good for 241-horses and 258 lb-ft of torque. There was a wee bit of turbo lag and its acceleration right off the line could be better. While it didn’t necessarily feel underpowered after that, I admittedly yearned for a few more ponies. You can get those if you step up to the all-wheel drive model. It features a 3.5-liter V6 with 260-horses and 236 lb-ft of torque.
Both engines are mated to an 8-speed automatic with steering wheel paddle shifters. You can also opt for Eco, Normal, Sport, Sport+ and Snow drive modes.
Step into the cabin, and you find amazingly comfortable F Sport bolstered, contoured, seats with impeccable stitching. For me, they are definitely the highlight in the cabin. Your feet meanwhile are greeted by F Sport aluminum pedals.
The cabin’s fit and finish and soft-touch materials make a great impression. A perforated leather-wrapped F Sport badged steering wheel with paddle shifters is ready to steer you wherever you’d like to go. The cool factor comes when you glance up at the F Sport’s LFA- inspired tachometer that slides to reveal the multi-information display with driver info including a G-force meter and a digital boost gauge.
One thing that could use an update is the center console stack. It’s a bit underwhelming and doesn’t quite match the technology forward tachometer or the newly available 10.3-inch infotainment screen. It’s made up of mostly black buttons, and a few knobs. Dual-zone climate controls slide up and down to control the temperature. Below, on the center console, you find a leather-trimmed shift knob, buttons for the heated and cooled seats and the easy to use drive mode selector.
As you might imagine the back seat isn’t huge, but practicality is not generally why you buy a coupe. The trunk space works for me, but it’s probably not ideal for bulk shopping.
Technology & Audio
Lexus’ infotainment platform, Lexus Enform, is in and of itself well-laid out with easy to read, modern graphics for maps, functions, and apps (but you won’t find Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.) All that said, it’s still hard to get past the next-gen Remote Touch Interface that actually controls the thing. Yes, it’s better than it used to be. But it still requires more concentration to use than I’d like. But Lexus gets points for an excellent upgraded 17-speaker Mark Levinson Surround Sound system.
Standard Features and Options
A rear back up camera is standard on all RC 300s, as is a 10-way power driver’s seat, illuminated door handles, carpet floor mats, a tire pressure monitoring system and smart access with push-button start/stop.
Added options on my test model include the $4,105 F Sport package with its performance and visual upgrades, along with the $2,725 Mark Levinson/Navigation package and a $1,100 power moonroof.
Safety and Driver’s Assistance
Safety features are a strong Lexus selling point. The RC 300 comes standard with the Lexus Safety System+ with Pre-Collision, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Intelligent High Beam, and Dynamic Cruise Control. My test model also has the $500 Intuitive Park Assist which is useful if you need help parallel parking. Blind Spot Monitor with Rear-Cross Traffic Alert is included in the F Sport package or as an option. You can add triple-beam headlights for $1,160.
Make no mistake, the 2018 Lexus RC 300 isn’t a hardcore performance oriented coupe. But it’s got looks, a smooth as butter, comfortable ride that makes it a great daily driver entry-level coupe.