£35,995 - £43,790 Price range
39 - 57 MPG
If you’re looking for a sharp-suited coupe then the Lexus RC is worth considering. It shares its looks with the super-fast RC F but without the associated running costs, making it an alternative to models such as the BMW 4 Series, Audi A5 and Mercedes C-Class coupe.
Without the RC F’s aggressive bumpers, the RC is a more elegant-looking affair and one that is likely to be a rare sight on UK roads, which could be a selling point to potential buyers. As with the exterior, the interior shares the same high-quality feel and smart design as the RC F, but with fewer sporty touches.
Instead of the 5.0-litre V8 fitted to its racy big brother, the RC gets a choice of two smaller engines – a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol (in the 200t) or the petrol-electric hybrid fitted to the 300h.
Equipment levels have yet to be confirmed, but Lexus is known for offering a generous basic specification, so we expect all RCs to come kitted out with sat-nav, keyless entry and a DAB digital radio.
Slide into the driver’s seat of the Lexus RC and you’ll be pleased to find that the interior matches the striking exterior. It may not be as good-looking as a C-Class’ cabin, but everything you touch is made from soft materials and feels extremely well-built, while the buttons operate with the kind of well-damped precision you would expect of a premium product.
The infotainment system is not really up to the standard of the rest of the cabin – the graphics look dated, there is less functionality than in rivals and the touchpad control is
tricky to operate on the move – it requires you to direct a cursor across the screen via a touchpad where you used to find the handbrake.
Lexus RC passenger space
Anyone sitting in the front of the Lexus will enjoy plenty of room in their leather-wrapped chairs. Those in the back, however, won’t be so fortunate because the swooping roofline means there is little headroom for adults. Rear legroom also suffers badly if the front seats are occupied by someone taller than six foot.
Lexus RC boot space
The Lexus’ 374-litre boot is smaller than that in the BMW 4 Series (445 litres) and Mercedes C-Class coupe (400 litres), plus the boot’s high lip coupled with the small opening doesn’t make it particularly easy to load – something that’s arguably the price you pay for those sharp looks.
Despite its aggressive styling, the RC is actually quite docile and feels at home cruising on the motorway. The RC is based on the IS saloon, but with a strengthened chassis. This lets Lexus use a softer suspension set-up without compromising composure in the corners. The downside is that all that strengthening has added quite a bit of weight – resulting in the RC tipping the scales at more than 1,800kg. For reference, a BMW 4 Series will weigh around 200kg less.
Most of the RC’s rivals can be equipped with sporty petrol engines or frugal diesels, but the Lexus does without diesel power, instead opting for a petrol-electric hybrid for its frugal option.
Lexus RC petrol engines
The 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol in the RC 200t produces 245hp, so it’s not short on power, however reviewers say it never feels that fast. The lacklustre 0-62mph time of 7.5 seconds is the result of the car’s substantial weight. The eight-speed automatic gearbox works perfectly well when you’re not pushing it, but as soon as you start to hustle it gets confused juggling between ratios and reacting slowly to commands from the steering-wheel-mounted paddles.
A clever trick up the RC 200t’s sleeve is that its engine can run the fuel-saving Atkinson combustion cycle, however with an official combined fuel economy figure of 38.7mpg it’s not as fuel efficient as the 46mpg returned by the faster BMW 420i. The RC 200t’s CO2 emissions are also higher and annual road tax will cost £205, compared to the BMW’s £145 bill.
Lexus RC Hybrid
The 2.5-litre four-cylinder powering the RC 300h’s rear wheels is a better match. It’s helped by an electric motor and can run solely on electric power at speeds of up to 30mph. After that the petrol engine fires up to help out for combined power of 223hp. That’s not a small number, but the 8.6 seconds it takes the 300h to reach 62mph from a stop combined with the 118mph top speed means it’s the slowest car in class – not good for a sports coupe.
Sadly, the only area where the RC 300h is cheaper to run than rivals is company car tax. Elsewhere, the RC is overshadowed by diesel rivals. Rivals such as the Mercedes C 220 d, which has a combined fuel economy figure of 69mpg, compared to the Lexus’s 57.6mpg. CO2 emissions of 113gm/km mean annual road tax for the RC 300h costs £30 – £10 more than the C-Class.
Befitting of a car with such price tag, the Lexus has plenty of safety equipment – from a full complement of airbags, through to the latest in traction and stability control technology and ABS with brake-force distribution. The RC hasn’t been crash tested by Euro NCAP yet, but we see no reason why it shouldn’t score top marks as every other Lexus model has done.
Lexus is known for offering plenty of standard equipment with all its model and the RC looks set to continue this proud tradition.
Lexus RC F Sport
On other Lexus models, F Sport trim is one of the most expensive specifications, but it’s the entry-level here. There’s nothing entry level about the standard equipment which includes adaptive suspension, a limited-slip rear differential to help with fast cornering and more aggressive front and rear bumpers.
Lexus RC 300t Luxury
Only available in conjunction with the hybrid drivetrain, as the name implies Luxury makes the RC very cosseting with standard electrically adjustable heated and cooled leather seats along with cruise control and park assist.
Lexus RC Premier
The most expensive RC packs a premium navigation system, a reversing camera and a powerful 17-speaker Mark Levinson stereo with DVD playback facility that’s one of the best fitted to any car currently on sale. You also get a blind-spot monitoring system for a added safety on the motorway.
The Lexus is a great alternative to the established competition providing arguably the most relaxed driving experience, while the company’s long history of reliability should give you peace of mind. And in the unlikely event of something actually going wrong, Lexus’ dealer network is second to none.