After starting last year with one version of the new RC series performance coupe, the RC 350, Lexus has four varieties on sale for 2016, including an RC 200t base model and a super-powered, track-ready RC F. That makes the new RC 300, with a lower-powered V6 than its RC 350 mate, the midlevel member of the regular RC trio. Visually, the RC coupes differ little, highlighted by the familiar spindle-style grille and a sleek, sporty body that seems to exude muscularity, whichever engine lies beneath the hood.
What's New for 2016
Following up on the RC 350 coupe that debuted for 2015, the RC 300 has joined the lineup with a less-powerful rendition of the V6 engine and a lower price. Unlike the RC 350, which comes with either rear-drive or all-wheel drive, the new RC 300 is offered only with all-wheel drive.
Choosing Your Lexus RC 300
Like the more powerful RC 350 coupe, the RC 300 isn’t easily identified as a Lexus, apart from its “signature” Lexus grille. Rather than the 306-horsepower V6 in the RC 350, the new RC 300 holds a 3.5-liter V6 engine that makes 255 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. Only all-wheel drive is available, with a six-speed automatic transmission that includes paddle shifters. A selectable driving mode system is standard.
Acceleration from a standstill to 60 mph differs only slightly between the RC 300 and RC 350, at 6.3 and 6.0 seconds, respectively. Fuel economy of the RC 300 is estimated at a less-thrifty 19 mpg in city driving and 26 mpg on the highway (21 mpg in combined driving).
Picking an RC 300 rather than the all-wheel drive version of the RC 350 saves about $2,400, while losing 51 horsepower. It’s about $2,600 higher than the turbocharged RC 200t, but that one has rear-drive, which may not be a wise choice in snowbelt regions. Plenty of buyers can survive without that extra power; but still, when you’re talking about cars that top $40,000, the price difference doesn’t amount to all that much.