Great handling and impressive road manners combine to make the new Lexus RC 350 a viable contender for a top road coupe, American, German or Japanese such as this cool Toyota luxury division model. While most trim levels won’t measure up against the fast and furious models, this vehicle holds swagger in the luxury segment.

And if you must have a super go-faster, there is Lexus’s raucous RC F with its 472 horsepower V-8 ... for a lot more coin, of course.

Bottomline: Lexus keeps cranking out awesome rides.

Pros:

Restyled for 2019

Futuristic cabin

Refined workmanship

Great resale (2015 models run from $25-$30,000)

Cons:

Limited cargo space

Rearward visibility

Fussy touchpad

But let’s not quibble. Looks, performance and resale are all tops in the field.

The RC is available in four trim levels—RC 300, RC 350, F Sport and RC-F. What separates the group is mostly powertrains, with lower trims sharing turbocharged four-cylinder engines and upper trims with V-6s, along with the ferocious V-8. Base prices range from $41,145 to $64,750 ($50s-$70s trimmed out.)

We tested the RC 350 F Sport that adds a stockpile of sporty gear, including adaptive suspension, console mounted sport settings and a changeable digital instrument cluster. Optional dynamic rear steering (stability/turning) and variable gear-ratio steering add a level of firmness in cornering maneuvers. And with the larger V-6 kicking out 311 horsepower, our independent testing recorded a 5.8-second time from zero to 60.

This year’s RC offerings have upped the ante for Lexus. It not only looks fast as in previous years, but the new car has taken bold steps to more aggressively compete in the sport luxury segment. In performance runs, for instance, the RC 350 with rear-wheel drive holds the road like Stickum with 19-inch alloys. Its eight speed sport-direct shift transmission goes through gears smoothly with a hearty exhaust note.

Six driving modes set the pace with adjustable pedal pressure, steering assist and suspension tuning to suit driving conditions. Eco, Normal, Sport, Sport Plus, Snow and Custom settings are available. We found Sport Plus settings ideal for straight-line acceleration on Florida roads.

The new 350 model debuted in 2015 and has added a bevy of exterior changes that include restyled bumpers and new lighting. Frontseat passengers are treated to comfort with cushioned and bolstered ventilated leather that offers exceptional head and leg room. Not so in the back, however, where cramped seating is best suited for small children or extra cargo room.

But, hey, it’s a coupe.

Audiophiles will enjoy the vehicle’s available 17-speaker, 835-watt, 7.1 channel surround sound system with audio processing. Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa integration are welcome changes, though Android users remain out of the connectivity loop.

A suite of sensory equipment adds to the safety factor on the new RC 350, including a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitors, lane-departure alert and adaptive radar cruise control, although the latter releases before a complete stop.

An upgraded 10.3-inch color display is also included with the navigation package, but an overly sensitive touchpad that controls most cabin settings is distracting to adjust while driving.

Top rivals include the pricier Mercedes C-Class coupe, Cadillac ATS, BMW 4-Series, Audi’s A5 and the Infiniti Q60. But Lexus easily places at the top of any wishlist you compile for its performance, looks and safety, one of those rare can’t-go-wrong decisions.

Contact independent automotive columnist Len Ingrassia at lenscarcorner@comcast.net

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