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Japanese Mustang? The 2023 Lexus RC 350 F SPORT

2023 Lexus RC 350 F SPORT front 3/4 view

About that headline...

Can you come up with a simpler explanation of what the Lexus RC 350 F SPORT is---at least in concept?

Key points---two-door fastback coupe, long hood, short deck, and...

2023 Lexus RC 350 F SPORT hood up

2023 Lexus RC 350 F SPORT engine

...the thing you can't get in a Mustang anymore...a normally-aspirated V6 engine. In the case of the Lexus RC 350 F SPORT, that's 3.5 liters, with 311 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. In terms of horsepower, it's a close match to the Mustang Ecoboost, which has 310 horsepower on tap. Torque's another matter, with the American pony packing 350 lb-ft. That off-the-line grunt allows the Ecoboost to beat the Lexus to 60 by half a second---5.0 to 5.5. And the RC 350's one and only choice of transmission, a six-speed automatic, holds its EPA combined fuel economy average to 22, while the Mustang can squeeze 24 miles out of a gallon of gas.

2023 Lexus RC 350 F SPORT trunk open

2023 Lexus RC 350 F SPORT front seats

2023 Lexus RC 350 F SPORT front seat detail

2023 Lexus RC 350 F SPORT steering wheel and gauge cluster

None of those metrics are too far apart, so what keeps the Lexus RC 350 F SPORT from being mentioned in the same breath as the Mustang Ecoboost? Price. At $54,745 including destination, the 2023 Lexus RC 350 F SPORT is a full 20 grand more expensive than a Mustang Ecoboost---and within $4,000 of the starting price of the 2023 Ford Mustang Mach 1, which is a 470-horsepower muscle car.

So the foundational concept of the RC 350 F SPORT may be "Mustang", but the execution is something else. Lexus takes that foundation in a luxury-oriented direction, and ladles on the standard equipment for that price, including, full-time all-wheel drive, selectable drive modes, 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlamps and taillamp, a comprehensive active safety suite, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated and ventilated power front seats, rain-sensing wipers, and an adaptive variable suspension.

2023 Lexus RC 350 F SPORT center console

And yes, that IS a CD player at the top of that shot.

The RC is among the last of the Toyota/Lexus family to upgrade its infotainment system, which sends the CD player and trackpad off to the land of obsolete tech.

2023 Lexus RC 350 F SPORT center stack

Our tester also had a fair amount of extra-cost options, including a $1,200 Special Appearance Package (Incognito exterior paint with black roof and hood, 19-inch dark finish Enkei alloy wheels), triple beam LED headlamps for $1,160, a Navigation/Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound package for $2,725, intuitive park assist for $500, and a moonroof for $1,100.

That brings the price at the bottom of the window sticker to $61,430.

2023 Lexus RC 350 F SPORT front view

2023 Lexus RC 350 F SPORT side view

2023 Lexus RC 350 F SPORT rear view

There's a market for the Lexus RC 350 F SPORT. People with the desire to have a bit of fun, the means to afford it, and the restraint to not get all the horsepower their money can buy. There will be a 2024 model, with only slight updates. All eyes are on a next-generation RC already in development.


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