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Lexus RC 200t F-Sport 2+2 Coupe

Click to view picture gallery“Originally designed as a concept
  coupe, such was the public and
  media reaction to it at various
  international motor shows that
  Lexus went ahead and built it —
  we drive the new RC 2+2 Coupe...”


WITH STUNNING STYLING AND RARITY VALUE a given, the rear-wheel drive RC 2+2 Coupe is available with a 220bhp full-hybrid 2.5-litre petrol-electric motor (300h) and also with a 241bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine (200t). There's also another niche variant in the range the 471bhp RC F powered by a Lexus 5.0-litre V8 petrol engine with automatic transmission.

For the record, there are no diesel engines in the Lexus range. But they do offer you a choice of transmissions: the hybrid 300h has a CVT autobox while the sportier 200t comes with an eight-speed automatic gearbox with a manual mode. The RC 300h will cost you 34,995; the 200t 36,495. To put the V8-powered RC F on your drive you'll need a bigger budget £59,995 to 67,995

Most people will find
the design of the RC
stunning.
Its kerb-appeal is without
doubt its main selling
point — it certainly
attracted the most public
interest of any new car
I’ve tested this year...”
The heart of the range is the popular 300h, strongly helped by its lower emissions and cheaper tax costs. This is available in Luxury, F-Sport and Premier trim levels whilst the 200t comes only in F-Sport and Premier.

UK sales for the RC range this year are minimal, at least in global terms, with a target of just 825 units; the good news is that its rarity should preserve long-term values.

Lexus GB expects the 300h hybrid to take the bulk of the sales (79%), followed by the 5.0-litre V8 RC F (12%) and, lastly, the 200t turbo petrol (9%). They also see the RC range as being attractive to new and younger premium brand buyers, with competitor's models likely to be the Audi A5 Coupe, BMW 4 Series Coupe, and the Mercedes C-Class Coupe.

Most people will find the design of the Lexus RC stunning although with just two doors and 2+2 seating it doesn't score quite so high for practicality. However, its kerb-appeal is without doubt its main selling point it certainly attracted the most public interest of any new car I've driven this year.

The sleek and low 4.7-metre-long RC shows off the new generation Lexus 'design language' in other words, plenty of angles, sharp creases, sculptured folds for the body panels, wide haunches, and ground effect side skirts. Its 'statement' deep mesh front grille leads up to a long bonnet, swept-back windscreen, a coupe waist and a steeply raked rear window that looks like a tailgate but is actually the lid of its 374-litre boot.

The RC's very wide-opening doors do have a slight downside in that they limit your options when it comes to side-by-side parking. However, once inside the sports cabin it's all classic high-end Lexus; exquisitely styled with perfect quality and it feels solidly put together.

The front features a cockpit layout with a sweeping fascia intersected by a recessed housing for the 7-inch multimedia/SatNav screen. The lower centre console houses the radio, ventilation, and heated (and cooled) front seat controls along with the gearshift lever, the driving mode selector (Eco, Normal and Sport settings) plus a fiddly PC-type touchpad to control the information screen functions.

Drive to the rear wheels
is through an
eight-speed autobox
with auto and manual
gearchange modes plus
paddle-shift levers.
Driver’s can switch
between Eco, Normal or
Sport performance
modes...”
The seats front and rear are 'sports' style with leather upholstery; leather trim is used widely throughout the cabin. In the back the legroom is minimal for adults and I suspect even getting a youngster into a child seat would not be easy. However, the rear seats do fold to increase the boot space.

Other items from the extensive list of kit includes a sports steering wheel, aluminium pedals, memory front seats, front and rear parking sensors, rear-view camera, auto lights and wipers, Bluetooth, dual-zone A/C, cruise control, and smart entry with push button start.

The only interior option fitted to my test car was the upgraded Lexus Premium navigation system with remote touch controller and a 10-speaker sound system with DAB radio and DVD player which costs 1,995. As standard, the 36K 200t F-Sport already has 19-inch alloy wheels, and LED headlights to go with the LED daytime running lights and LED tail lights.

When it comes to the technical stuff, the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, DOHC variable valve timing petrol engine is boosted by a twin-scroll turbocharger, producing 241bhp and a healthy 258lb ft of torque from 1,650rpm.

Drive to the rear wheels is through an eight-speed autobox with auto and manual gearchange modes plus paddle-shift levers on the steering column; at any time the driver can easily switch between Eco, Normal or Sport performance modes.

The F-Sport version also gains a Torsen limited slip differential and adaptive variable rate suspension for optimum handling. Other tech aids include vehicle stability control, traction control, lane departure warning, and hill start assist.

With 241bhp you'd expect some zip and you get it, with zero to 62mph taking 7.5 seconds and a top speed of 143mph.

Officially the Combined Cycle fuel consumption is 38.7mpg and for my week-long test driving sessions covering the usual motorway, winding country A/B roads and some in-town stop/start travel the real-life figure was 32.8mpg, achieved with much of the driving being done in Eco mode but only because the amount of road traffic didn't really allow for anything else. The good news is that the Eco mode doesn't detract from the driving pleasure unless you want to be racy.

The Sport mode
sharpened up the throttle
and gearchange
responses and firmed up
the ride — but not to a
temperamental level.
Despite its higher speed
potential, no matter
what setting is used
the RC 200t is
more of a ‘cruiser’ than
a ‘bruiser’...”
When I was able to make use of it, the Sport mode sharpened up the throttle and gearchange responses and firmed up the ride but not to a temperamental level. With CO2 emissions at a relatively high 168g/km, road tax costs 300 (and 210 for the second year onwards). Company car drivers pay a hefty 30% Benefit-in-Kind tax.

By comparison, the best-selling 300h hybrid models officially return over 56mpg with CO2 emissions of 113 to 116g/km, keeping road tax to 0/30 and BIK to 19 or 20% depending on the specification. Which explains why the 300h hybrids are more popular and, apart from the Premier top spec, cheaper to buy and run as well. Even so, they're slower!

Despite its higher speed potential, no matter what setting is used the RC 200t is more of a 'cruiser' than a 'bruiser'; its size and weight reduces its agility and it feels a solid but heavy car so looses out on some of the sharpness of its lighter-weight competitors. The lazy kick-down on the auto box doesn't help, and the manual change mode was not as fast as some sports transmissions in this sector.

That said, the performance will only disappoint if the owner wants an out-and-out sports car. Most will find it smooth and quick enough when needed for refined everyday use; long journeys are a 'doddle', with effortless cruising speeds and a boost of acceleration whenever needed. A big plus is that despite its sporting nature and large 19-inch wheels, the RC serves up a comfortable ride on all but the roughest of UK roads.

The Lexus RC 200t is not some cut-and-thrust hardcore sports machine it's a classy sports coupe with huge amounts of stunning visual kerb-appeal and a beautifully crafted high-quality interior. Its performance might not be the sharpest, but it will sell on its quality and genuinely striking styling. ~ David Miles

Lexus RC 200t F-Sport 2+2 Coupe | 36,495
Maximum speed: 143mph | 0-62mph: 7.5 seconds | Test Average: 32.8mpg
Power: 241bhp | Torque: 258lb ft | CO2: 168g/km