Rakish coupe looks great but handling falls short of rivals’ standards
- Distinctive styling
- Hybrid efficiency
- Comfortable cabin and ride
- Not especially sporty to drive
- Cramped rear seats
- Hybrid’s practicality compromised
Few cars at any price point are as dramatically styled as the new Lexus RC, a four-seater coupe that’s the firm’s first entrant in this sector.
Daring Lexus RC styling
In a market segment where image is paramount, the RC’s bold appearance could give the newcomer a foothold against its competitors.
There’s a wide, aggressive interpretation of Lexus’s trademark spindle grille, menacing LED-equipped headlights, a bulbous bonnet and sleek lines that intersect each other along the RC’s flanks.
Directly rivalling established opposition in the form of the Audi A5 Coupe, BMW 4 Series Coupe and Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe, there’s more to the RC than simply being a rakish two-door version of the Lexus IS saloon.
We’ve already experienced the muscular Lexus RC F performance version, complete with its pumped-up bodywork and V8 engine – these more modest versions of the RC flesh out the range for those who want a distinctive coupe without the thirst for fuel.
No diesel engine option
Unlike its rivals, there’s no diesel powertrain option for the Lexus RC – instead there’s a straight choice between a 2-litre turbo petrol, badged RC 200t, and a petrol-electric hybrid alternative, the RC 300h.
It’s the RC 200t that’s the performance champion of the range, capable of sprinting from 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds but Lexus expects more customers to be drawn to the RC 300h’s greater efficiency.
While the hybrid version’s no slouch – it takes 8.6 seconds to reach 62mph from a standstill – it offers far superior fuel economy at up to a claimed 57.6mpg compared with 38.7mpg for the RC 200t. Consequently the RC 300h’s CO2 emissions are as low as 113g/km, the petrol-only model being much higher at 168g/km.
Both versions have automatic transmissions as standard: an eight-speed for the 200t and a CVT gearbox for the 300h - necessary as it promotes efficiency.
Lexus has tuned the RC more for comfort than sportiness, which explains why the hybrid version, with its smoother drivetrain and supple ride, is the more satisfying of the two.
Three generously equipped trim levels
Think Lexus and you typically think of exquisitely built cabins and equipment rosters boasting more standard features than other marques in the premium car arena. It’s a trend that’s continued with the RC.
Three specification grades are on offer - all familiar from elsewhere in the Lexus line-up. Focusing more on comfort are Luxury (RC 300h only) and Premier, while the F Sport takes cues, including the enormous mesh grille, from the flagship RC F.
Whichever version you choose you’ll find front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, a seven-inch infotainment screen, an electrically adjustable steering column, dual-zone climate control and LED head- and tail-lamps.
In most other respects the cabin owes much to the IS with the same dashboard fronting a more cosy cabin. Rear space is more limited but the back seat’s shaped for two with a storage facility between the chairs.
Available to order from October 2015, first deliveries of the newcomer began in early 2016. Read the full Parkers new Lexus RC coupe review to find out how we rate this daring four-seater.