2015 Lexus RC Sport Coupe
If you’ve been following the Lexus brand lately, you know that they’re on an all-out mission to shed their soft, comfy, pure luxury image…that’s still a work in progress; it takes a long time to change people’s minds about a brand. But the new RC coupe just might be the car that speeds that change along.
The 2015 Lexus RC marks the brand’s reentry into the sporty coupe segment. And from the looks of this car, they’re not jumping back in quietly. The RC may not instantly strike fear into the hearts of the German marques that dominate this segment, but they will certainly know Lexus has joined the party.
The RC’s compliant, yet very rigid chassis is an all-star for sure. It’s not a new chassis per se, but a modified combination of 2 separate Lexus platforms. The front architecture and suspension comes from the mid-size GS, while the rear comes from the compact IS, with a lot of structural bracing in between. Enough to satisfy a fairly wide variety of tastes.
Taking a walk through the lineup, things start with the RC 350. It’s the tamest model with a 3.5-liter V6 coming directly over from the GS, outputting the same 306-horsepwer and 277 lb-ft. of torque. Transmission is also the same 8-speed automatic, with steering wheel shifters, unless you choose all-wheel-drive in which case you’ll lose 2 gears.
But, the outside is anything but tame. While it may not the most dynamic looking Lexus of all-time, it’s pretty darn close.
It’s still Lexus-smooth, but with plenty of sharp angles and body tucks to drum up some excitement. The front end screams aggression with a big-mouth grille and vertical openings slashed into the corners.
18-inch wheels are standard, with significant fender flares above them. L-shaped LED rear lighting has been updated with clear, jagged lenses protruding out. The rear bumper also gets slashed up with simulated corner vents.
Inside, things are less of a departure. There’s still lots of luxury to touch and plenty of serenity to be had when driving. Lexus calls this a pure 2+2 Coupe, so rear space, especially leg room, is limited.
4-dial gauges set a sporty tone, with a small central TFT screen providing plenty of info. 10.4 cubic-ft of space hides in the trunk, and useful folding rear seatbacks add to that. Neither back-up camera nor navigation are standard, however, but if you do upgrade, there’s a new remote touchpad for inputs.
Next up the line is the RC 350 F Sport, and the added content is very high. For the exterior, there are 19-inch wheels, unique front and rear fascia, and fender badging.
Inside it gets even better with supportive sport seats, new sport pedals, LFA-inspired gauges, black headliner, and tasteful silver trim.
While the Sport’s engine is unchanged, there are lots of mechanical upgrades. Like adaptive variable suspension, high-friction brake pads, 4-wheel steering, and the additional Sport+ driving mode.
We spent most of our drive time in the F Sport and were very impressed with its light and balanced feel. Around the track at the Monticello Motor Club, things felt super-rigid with virtually no flex.
The rear-steer speeds up turn-ins, and the car has an almost Porsche-like competency, where you have a hard time believing you’re having this much fun in a straight-up street car, let alone a Lexus. And you can do some serious pushing without feeling like you’re going to end up in some “epic fail” video on You Tube.
But, where this tale really gets interesting is in the top-of-the-line RC F. This car is serious, with a 467-horsepwer 5.0-liter V8, as well as fully upgraded chassis and brakes.
It’s a beast! On the street, it feels a little nose heavy, and steering is slower, though you can dial in more with Sport and Sport+ settings, but we found it almost too aggressive for everyday use.
On the track however, it comes alive with the V8 growling on acceleration, and barking on downshifts. Transmission is also an 8-speed, but it’s different enough to get a separate internal name.
A Torsen limited-slip rear is standard and you can upgrade to a torque vectoring rear, which includes “set-it-and-forget-it” presets for standard, slalom, and track. The torque vectoring rear is highly recommended, as it allows you to seriously late brake and perform dare-devil late turn-ins well beyond your skill set.
All of that, along with huge 6-piston Brembos up front, make the RC F a legit player in the RS, M, and AMG game. Lexus claims 0-60 happens in 4.4-seconds and we believe it.
Prices are competitive too, starting at $43,715 for the RC 350, the F Sport comes in at $47,700, and the big-dog RC F goes for $63,325.
While the LFA got the performance-image ball rolling for Lexus, things have been slow in gaining momentum. But we think the 2015 RC is a game changer, and just what the Lexus makeover has been waiting for.
- Engine: 3.5 liter V6
- Horsepower: 306
- Torque: 277 lb-ft.
2023 BMW X7
Should Keep The BMW Faithful Coming Back For More
While BMW got serious about their SUV game around the same time as most other luxury brands, it took them until just a few years ago to deliver a 3-row example. This year, that X7 is updated with new style and new tech. So, let’s see if that makes it the ultimate premium 3-row family machine.
When it comes to utility vehicles, bigger seems to be better for a lot of people. So, for BMW, there’s none bigger or better than the X7 3-row utility, which for 2023 gets a comprehensive update after just 4-years on the market. That includes a facelift to bring it more in line with the new 7-series carline, which is to say joins the more vertical, aggressive grille party. Also, the actual headlights have been moved lower in the front fascia, with squinty DRLs above for the first time on a BMW. In back, taillights take on a 3D posture, with a new chrome bar connecting them.
There are also multiple new M Sport packages to choose from to spice up the exterior, with larger air intakes up front, high-gloss black trim, upgraded exhaust, cascade grille lighting, and 22-inch wheels, as well as M Sport brakes…
…and the interior too, with aluminum trim and exclusive steering wheel. But, by far the biggest change inside for ‘23 is a new dashtop curved display that eliminates the typical BMW well-hooded gauge pod and blends 12-inch Live Cockpit Pro into the 15-inch infotainment touchscreen, which now features iDrive8. Both a Head-Up Display and a large panoramic sunroof are standard.
Whether set up for 2 or 3 passengers, 2nd row seat room remains plentiful, and though the X7 doesn’t look ungainly large like many of its competitors, access to the 3rd row is quite good. Cargo space is reached through a fairly unique, Range Rover-style, split tailgate, which is quite oddly satisfying to watch unfold. There’s room for 48.6 cubic-ft. of goods behind the 2nd row, with a max of 90.4 cu.-ft.
The base xDrive40i has always been the sensible choice, even more so now with a new inline-6 turbo getting a significant bump in horsepower from 335 to 375, and a 48-volt mild-hybrid system that results in a total of 398 lb-ft. of torque.
At our Mason Dixon test track, there was enough to blast this big beast to 60 in just 5.4-seconds. That’s only about half a second slower than the V8 did the deed back in 2019. Making that optional 523-horsepower V8 simply overkill at this point. Our best ¼-mile pass was 13.9-seconds at 100 miles-per-hour. All X7s get a quick shifting sport-tuned 8-speed automatic transmission, which adds a new Sprint Function that finds the lowest usable gear instantly and maxes electric boost with a hold of the left shift paddle. What fun!
New looks and updated tech are cool, but BMW has also addressed dynamics as well, with a retuning of all chassis systems, including the optional Dynamic Handling Package which adds adaptive suspension with roll stabilization and uses GPS and camera data to prepare for what’s coming. We’re not sure if our slalom course was anticipated, but the X7 sure felt well-equipped to handle it. All-wheel drive is standard on all X7s, along with comprehensive drive modes.
In our braking runs, the pads bit down hard quickly, stopping us from 60 in just 115-feet with very little nosedive.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the 6-cylinder are 21-City, 25-Highway, and 22-Combined. We averaged just 21.0 miles-per-gallon on Premium.
There’s an average Energy Impact Score; 13.5-barrels of oil yearly, with CO2 emissions of 6.5-tons.
Pricing starts at $78,845, and it’s a significant step up from there to $104,095 if you want the V8. Even more reason to stick with the 6-cylinder as far as we’re concerned.
It took the ultimate driving machine folks quite a bit of time to enter the 3-row family crossover segment, but when they did, they were able to create their largest utility ever and keep it consistent with their values. For 2023, the BMW X7 gets even more dynamic, embraces new tech, and looks better too. All things that should keep the BMW faithful coming back for more.
- Engine: I-6
- Horsepower: 375
- 0-60 mph: 5.4 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 115 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 21.0 MPG
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Torque: 398 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 13.9-seconds at 100 mph
- EPA: 21 City / 25 Highway / 22 Combined