Aesthetically, there is a lot to consider when analyzing a car's design. Most people probably focus on a car's grill or even the profile. But for a certain group of people the tailpipes have an allure all their own. Here are what our editors consider the 10 best examples of exquisite exhausts on the market today.
Specification sheets don't tell the whole story, and if there's a single brand that has illustrated this time and again, it's Lexus. Parent brand Toyota plainly got out of the sporty car business a decade ago, but some Lexuses have continued to look the part. Even more important, the elements you look for — like generous power, rear-wheel drive and double-wishbone suspensions — have often been present. Regardless, they haven't always translated to the emotional experience you expect, or at least desire, based on what you see in the specs. The new 2015 RC coupe, especially in RC F form, changes all of that in ways its predecessor, the IS-F sedan, failed to do.
The RC, a two-door four-seater, is intended to compete with the likes of Audi's A5 and BMW's 4 Series (that's the former 3 Series coupe). It comes in three versions: the RC 350, the RC 350 F Sport (the regular car with substantial performance tweaks) and the RC F (a full-blown competitor for the Audi RS5 and BMW M4). I tested all three versions in New York state and at the Monticello Motor Club, a private racetrack in Monticello, N.Y.
Engines include the venerable 3.5-liter V-6 producing 306 horsepower in the RC 350, and an updated version of the 5.0-liter V-8 from the IS-F, producing 467 hp in the new RC F. Both engines drive the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission, though the RC 350 also offers all-wheel drive that instead pairs with a six-speed automatic.
When the Lexus RC 350 goes on sale this fall, the 306-horsepower V-6, rear-wheel-drive coupe will start at $43,715 with destination charge. Variants in addition to the standard RC 350 include an all-wheel drive RC 350 at $42,950, plus the higher-performance 467-hp V-8 RC F (above) that's rear-wheel-drive only and starts at $63,225.
Related: 2015 Lexus RC First Drive
RC pricing comes in competitively with two of the most notable coupes in the business: the BMW M4 ($65,150) and BMW 435i ($47,050), formerly known as the M3 and 335i coupes. A new Cadillac ATS coupe joins the field with a starting price of $38,990. The RC is an all-new coupe for Lexus not derived from any one of its sedans, but rather a hodgepodge of Lexus models as underpinnings are shared with the new Lexus GS and IS sedans as well as the Lexus IS convertible.
Lexus' mouse-style control system, Remote Touch, debuted about five years ago. It was the luxury automaker's response to knob-based controllers from Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. The interface had a certain familiarity in our computer-centric world, and so does the latest version of Remote Touch, which replaces the mouse controller with a laptop-style touchpad. It debuts on the 2015 Lexus RC sport coupe, which hits dealerships late this year.
Like the prior mouse controller, the new touchpad operates a cursor on the dashboard screen, and you move the cursor to select different systems, like navigation. The setup includes haptic feedback; when you move the cursor across a menu choice the touchpad pulses under your finger. Pressing down on the touchpad makes a selection.
One of the first things you notice about the new Lexus RC F — apart from its massive hourglass grille — is how low it is, both its roofline and stance. The coupe is hunkered down on 19-inch forged-alloy wheels, which together with low-profile tires fill out the wheel wells nicely.
The rear-quarter view is my favorite; it lets you see the coupe's stout rear fenders, fastback roofline, thin taillights and aggressive bumper styling.
Exactly how much more powerful the 2015 Lexus RC F will be than the RC 350 on which its based is still unknown. What is clear, however, is that the high-performance luxury coupe looks the part. Its track-ready makeover features air outlets in its taller hood and fenders, a massive Lexus spindle grille with a mesh insert and stacked quad exhaust tips, as well as available carbon-fiber components and an active spoiler that activates at higher speeds. That's in addition to forged 19-inch aluminum wheels with premium hand-polished rims.
In the cockpit, Lexus says performance bucket seats were designed to resemble snug-fitting sportswear (hmm, a compression shirt says one thing, but yoga pants something very different), as well as a thick-rimmed steering wheel. Check out the gallery below.
Lexus' big reveal at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit was the high-performance RC F coupe, a car designed to take on the BMW M4 and Audi RS 5, among others. The luxury brand also brought the car the RC F is based on: the RC 350, which it first showed late last year at the Tokyo Motor Show. The 2015 RC 350 will be available at U.S. dealerships in November or December of this year.
The RC 350's design is a little toned down compared to the RC F, but not as much as you might expect. Lexus' spindle grille still dominates the front end, albeit in a different form, and it's bordered by headlights that wouldn't be out of place on a concept car. Flared rear fenders hint at the car's performance aspirations.
Lexus' first dedicated coupe since 2000 bowed at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. It looks hot and has the go-fast goodies to back it up, says Cars.com reviewer Kelsey Mays. Available in regular RC 350 trim and performance-oriented F trim, the 2015 Lexus RC will go on sale late this year and give Audi's and BMW's coupes some stiff competition, Mays says. Check out the video for more.
With the debut today of the RC F at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Lexus released a few more of the car's specs. Most are estimated, but they help give a picture of how the new performance coupe stacks up in the luxury sports-car segment. Notable specs include:
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