NEW FOR 2015:

– New model.

2015 is a good year if you happen to be in the market for a premium performance coupe – and want something other than the default BMW or Audi. Cadillac waves the flag for America with its ATS Coupe, while Lexus has a compelling offering in the form of the new RC Coupe.

Although the RC shares its styling and interior with the IS sedan, to call it an IS Coupe wouldn’t be accurate as it draws from the GS, IS, and IS-C for its frame. Power for the RC 350 comes from Lexus’ direct-injected 3.5-litre V6 that develops 306 horsepower; the RWD Coupe gets an eight-speed automatic, while the AWD version uses a six-speed automatic. A manual transmission is not available.

For the time being, there’s no RC 250, though we suspect that a 200t model will be along in a year or two, courtesy of the new 2.0-litre turbo motor that recently debuted in the NX compact luxury crossover.

Filling in for the now-defunct IS-F is the RC F – the most powerful Lexus since the LFA ended production. Its 5.0-litre V8 has been reworked to develop 467 full-blooded horses, making it a natural choice for those still mourning the demise of the naturally aspirated M3 Coupe. The RC F also receives aluminum fenders and hood, different bumpers, a new grille, and of course, a performance exhaust system. Underneath, the RC F also has unique suspension and drivetrain components that distinguish it from the RC 350.

There are six trim levels of RC 350, with key differences between RWD and AWD models.

From a price perspective, the RC 350 AWD is the entry level model. It features 19-inch wheels, a 7-inch infotainment display, navigation, reverse camera, NuLuxe synthetic leather seats, Bluetooth, USB audio, heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated seats, push-button start, blind-spot monitor, and a power moonroof.

The Executive package adds genuine leather upholstery, front seat memory, radar cruise control with pre-collision warning, LED headlamps, reverse sensors, rain-sensing wipers, and a fine-sounding Mark Levinson stereo system.

The RC 350 AWD F Sport Series 1 includes F Sport-specific grille, bumpers, and wheels, plus adaptive suspension, configurable LFA-inspired instrument cluster, and LED headlamps.

The RC 350 AWD F Sport Series 2 adds radar cruise control with pre-collision warning, reverse sensors and a Mark Levinson stereo system.

Opting for the rear-drive RC 350 means receiving F Sport equipment by default (F Sport Series 1). The differences, from a performance perspective, are quite notable: variable gear ratio steering, active rear-wheel steering, an eight-speed automatic, adaptive dampers, performance brakes, staggered-width wheels wrapped in high-performance tires, on top of all the F Sport exterior and interior visual components.

The RWD F Sport Series 2 adds a few premium luxury goodies to the mix – a Mark Levinson stereo system, radar cruise control with pre-collision warning, and reverse sensors.

There are two versions of the RC F.

The base RC F includes all of the luxury and technology amenities found in the RC 350 F Sport Series 2, plus RC F-specific suspension tuning, Brembo brakes, and an adaptive power rear spoiler.

Adding the Performance Package to the RC F pushes its price tag to nearly $90,000, but this pricey package includes a torque-vectoring differential developed by GKN, forged lightweight 19-inch wheels; the rear spoiler and roof panel are replaced with items in genuine carbon fibre. Together they shave some 15 lbs off the car’s curb weight.

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