Despite its aggressive styling, the Lexus RC is actually quite docile and feels at home cruising on the motorway. Alternatives are much more fun, though
Unlike offerings from BMW, Audi and Mercedes, the Lexus RC comes with a petrol-electric hybrid drive system as standard. Its 2.5-litre petrol engine works in tandem with an electric motor to deliver 223hp to the rear wheels through a CVT automatic gearbox.
In theory, this allows the RC 300h to run in near-silent electric mode around town and on the motorway, only resorting to firing up the petrol engine when you accelerate hard. It works reasonably well – you’ll barely notice the transition between electric and hybrid drive modes – but it doesn’t have the pace to match conventional petrol and diesel-powered alternatives.
The Lexus RC looks like it’s doing 100mph when standing still. Unfortunately, it’s nowhere near as rapid or as fun to drive as its look suggest. It is quite quiet and comfortable, though
Accelerating from 0-62mph takes a leisurely 8.6 seconds – that’s about the same as the most affordable petrol-powered Mercedes C-Class Coupe – and the RC runs out of puff at 118mph. This partly down to the RC’s hefty 2,170kg weight, but its lethargic CVT automatic gearbox is also to blame. Not only is this unit slow to respond to the paddles on the steering wheel, but it causes the engine to rev excessively whenever you accelerate hard.
The payback for this so-so performance is reasonable fuel economy. Nice, but hardly a selling point for a stylish sports coupe. Lexus claims the RC will return 56.5mpg, but you can expect to see a figure closer to 40mpg in normal conditions. Unfortunately, this means the hybrid RC isn’t quite as frugal as many diesel-powered alternatives.
The Lexus RC’s narrow windscreen and rather large pillars mean it isn’t particularly easy to see out of – a common issue with sports coupes. You do at least get front and rear parking sensors as standard and a reversing camera to help you avoid bumps and scrapes in the car park. Unfortunately, the latter’s graphics look like they belong in a Nintendo games console from the nineties.
Once you’ve extricated the Lexus RC from a parking space, you’ll find it does a decent job ironing out bumps around town. Its light steering helps make it fairly easy to navigate through city traffic, too.
Head out onto a motorway and there isn’t a great deal of wind noise, but you’ll hear a definite rumble from the tyres at speed – especially in F Sport models with their larger alloy wheels.
These F Sport cars also come with adaptive suspension that lets you choose between softer, more comfortable settings and firmer, sportier setups. Unfortunately, even in its sportiest setting, the RC feels less keen to carve from one corner to another than alternatives from BMW, Mercedes and Audi.
It leans more in tight turns than these cars too, and any sense of urgency mustered by the petrol engine and the electric motor is dashed by the sluggish automatic gearbox.
At least it comes with a decent amount of safety kit. You get adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, road-sign recognition and automatic emergency braking as standard across the Lexus RC range.