Review and photos by Dan Heyman and Brendan McAleer
Both represent relatively uncharted territory for their manufacturers.Dan says:
What we have here are two cars that are similar on many fronts, but the main thing about their resemblance is the fact that they both represent relatively uncharted territory for their manufacturers.
The ATS compact sedan was already a bold move for Cadillac, since it had to be good enough to assuage fears that we were witnessing the resurrection of the dreadful Cimarron, which was the last car Caddy had in the segment—but a compact luxury coupe? No way. It had never been done before, unless you consider the Allanté. Which is pushing it, because, well, that car had no top.
For its part, Lexus is even less experienced in the compact luxury coupe department. Yes, a hardtop convertible IS C was sold alongside the previous-gen IS, but that car’s bloodlines were easy to see; the RC, for its part, is a whole different animal, as it borrows from various other Lexus models, as opposed to just chopping two doors off of an IS sedan.
This should be interesting.
Interesting? Um, yes. You could say that. The RC350 is the most interesting modern car I have ever clapped eyes on, and probably should not be viewed without some sort of protective eyewear. Let me put some on – Ach! My eyes! The goggles do nothing!
A luxury coupe is as much an expression of style as it is of sporting intent, and in this regard you’d never fault the Lexus for being short on expression. It is simply crammed with details, from air vents to multi-faceted headlights, to Nike Swooshes of LED war-paint, to fender-flares, to complex compound-curve sheet metal. It’s a lot to take in; too much. The worst offence to good taste can be found around back, with the do-nothin’ fake feathery air-ducting in the rear bumper. I hereby dub these car-butt-lashes.
However, as much as the RC appears to be part Battlestar Galactica extra and part H.R. Giger nightmare, people on the street seem to like it. It is visually exciting. It is wild and outlandish. Beautiful? Not even close, but striking and stunning? Absolutely. Like, for instance, a cricket bat to the face.
The ATS is similarly unique, but much more toned down and conventional. The vertical light-lines drawn by the LED daytime running lights give the Caddy some unique road presence, but the more I gaze at the new larger shield up front, the less I like it. The rear three-quarter and side-profile are the best views of this car, where its buffed down angular design language works best.
The blue paint our tester came in was stunning, a fresh new look for a Cadillac that has nothing to do with the personal luxury land-barges of the past. However, chrome details on the door handles and those 18-inch polished alloys are a bit old school, and clash with the new-image shape.
Which car dares more greatly? Lexus.