HomeThe MarketDriven: A quick Lexus coupe with a very long name

Driven: A quick Lexus coupe with a very long name

2021 Lexus RC 350 F Sport Black Line Special Edition will take your breath away, in at least two ways


Spanning 57 letters, numbers and spaces, the name of the 2021 Lexus RC 350 F Sport Black Line Special Edition is, as are too many automotive identifiers of late, simply way too long to pronounce in a single breath, let alone to remember when someone asks what you’re driving.

Of course, one reason for a breathless response to questions about the car may be that you have, indeed, been driving a — takes deep breath — 2021 Lexus RC 350 F Sport Black Line Special Edition coupe. And when you drive such a car, especially if you’ve been driving in Sport S/S+ mode, it can be a breathtaking experience.

Which leads me to this: To achieve driving in the Sport S/S+ mode, you have to turn a driving mode dial to that setting every time you start the car. Seems to me that Sport S/S+ should be the default mode, not one you have to select every time you start the car. 

After all, this is a car designed for driving enthusiasts, not for those fretting about an mpg or three.

Driven: A quick Lexus coupe with a very long name

Hopefully by this point in this story you get the idea that I enjoyed my week behind the wheel of this tight little sports coupe with too long a name.

And maybe we should be glad that Lexus shortened the name of this car by using the letters RC instead of Radical Coupe, the full title of this 2-door version of the IS sedan.

And speaking of names, like the name of the car, Sport S/S+ seems several letters too long. It could be shortened to “Sport” and who would care? It’s the result, not the length of the name, that matters.

Anyway, from what I can tell reading through Lexus literature, Sport S/S+ mode is an F Sport feature that includes adaptive variable suspension, so not only do the parameters that control the engine and transmission change with the mode, the suspension tuning does as well.

Regarding the underpinnings of the car, the one I’ve been driving was equipped with the optional — yet another deep breath, and a pity I’m not getting paid by the word — Lexus Dynamic Handing with Dynamic Rear Steering — setup. 

Driven: A quick Lexus coupe with a very long name
Driven: A quick Lexus coupe with a very long name

Yes, it adds $1,900 to the bottom line of the coupe’s Monroney sticker, but it also allows some rear-wheel steering input so the car, even on 19-inch 265/35 Bridgestone Potenza 5001L rubber, turns in and on through a corner like a go-kart. The turning circle is ridiculously tight. This car would have an unfair advantage in a gymkhana.

While the 3.5-liter V6’s output of 311 horsepower and only 280 pound-feet of torque, and that output going only through an 8-speed automatic gearbox, may not sound impressive, but in Sport S/S+ mode, and with the optional Torsen limited-slip rear differential, it is more than sufficient.

Lexus quotes 0-to-60 mph in 5.8 seconds, and a long, relatively straight rural on-ramp to an interstate highway provided a place to feel the engine’s pull all the way up to the Nevada-legal 75 mph limit.

Driven: A quick Lexus coupe with a very long name

While the RC has been in production since the 2014 model year, it’s been updated and upgraded. New for 2021 is the Black Line Special Edition that brings “premium triple-beam LED headlamps,” 19-inch F Sport wheels in “black sputtering chrome,” darkened exhaust tips and, inside the cockpit, Black Nuluxe accents with silver stitching, and ash wood trim on the steering wheel.

If you want to draw attention to the sputtering black wheels, you can opt for F Sport orange brake calipers. 

Also new for 2021 is standard heated exterior mirrors with blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert technology, both very nice to have when you’re in a low-slung sports coupe trying to back out of a parking place between two SUVs.

In addition to the above, buy a Black Line RC coupe and Lexus will deliver to your home or office a set of limited-production, Lexus-only Zero Halliburton luggage, including a 22-inch Edge Lightweight Continental carry-on and a 26-inch medium travel case.

By the way, while the cabin is snug – you’re not likely to convince an adult or even a tallish child to sit in the back seat – there’s plenty of room for that custom luggage in the RC’s 10.4 cubic-foot trunk.

Driven: A quick Lexus coupe with a very long name

This being a Lexus, it comes with standard power-adjusted front seats that are heated and cooled, 10-speaker audio system, and more, including the Lexus Safety System and even a first-aid kit. 

Oh, and if you really want more than 311 horsepower, you should have raised your hand earlier when Lexus was offering 60 examples of the RC F Sport Fuji Speedway Edition with its 472-horsepower 5.0-liter V8. 

Of course, one of those Fuji edition cars would set you back $97,200. The RC 300 starts at $42,200 ($44,910 for all-wheel drive) and the RC 350 F Sport starts at $49,620. The Black Line package bumps that to $51,665. The as-tested price on the example I’ve been driving was $58,055, what with navigation, the orange calipers, intuitive parking assist, premium paint, Torsen LSD, dynamic steering, wheel locks and a carpet mat for the trunk.

2021 Lexus RC 350 F Sport Black Line Special Edition

Vehicle type: 4-passenger coupe, rear-wheel drive

Base price: $49,520 Price as tested: $58,055

Engine: 3.5-liter V6, 311-horsepower @ 6,600 rpm, 280 pound-feet of torque @ 4,800 rpm Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Wheelbase: 107.5 inches Overall length/width: 185 inches / 72.4 inches

Curb weight: 3,748 pounds

EPA mileage estimates: 20 city / 28 highway / 23 combined

Assembled in: Tahara, Aichi, Japan

For more information, visit the Lexus website

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


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