With swoopy jet fighter-like lines that make the conservatively styled German opposition seem rather unimaginative, the recently launched Lexus RC range looks like it could be an enticing alternative in the tough sports coupe segment. Limited to just three models in the UK, the RC may not offer the engine range of the German trio, but the turbocharged petrol, petrol/hybrid and old school naturally aspirated V8 cover most bases.
With high-spec levels across the range and a pleasingly different take on the sports coupe, the Lexus RC can make for a great new or used buy. Read on to see what to look for before handing over your hard earned pounds.
Which Lexus RC to buy?
The engine choices for those concerned about running costs are either the 223bhp RC 300h petrol/electric hybrid or RC 200t turbocharged petrol unit. The hybrid is equipped with a CVT transmission while the 245bhp RC200t comes with a smooth shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox. Refreshingly both models are rear-wheel drive too. Both can be specified with either F Sport or Premier packages and the hybrid is also available in a more comfort biased Luxury trim as well. Items such as cruise control, infotainment system and parking assist are standard across the range.
Switchgear quality and the tactile feel of the materials used in the cockpit are all up there with the class leaders. The RC 300h hybrid is the more spirited performer of the two thanks to its extra electric assistance.
The top of the range RC F is the genuine performance option however, foregoing turbochargers or hybrid tech, sticking with a naturally-aspirated 5.0-litre V8 to provide 471bhp. While it’s suitably quick in a straight line, the car’s hefty kerb weight and less-aggressive power delivery, the RC F does not deliver the handling sharpness of the M4 or the almighty turbo enhanced torque of the C63.
In truth, unless you are pitting the cars against each other, none of this matters. The RC F offers immediate lag-free responses and the howling V8 soundtrack is backed up by a planted, biddable chassis. The less edgy nature of the RC F and the smooth eight-speed auto ‘box makes it more of a GT, and in this role it really excels. Standard equipment is very generous, and the optional extras are limited to a Mark Levinson sound system, torque vectoring diff, sun roof and radar assisted cruise control.
The Carbon pack is the sole optional equipment choice for the RC F, offering the Torque Vectoring Diff and upgraded sound system as well as carbon trim and unique alloys for an additional £8000 over the already high base price. The carbon trim may not be to everyone’s taste, and it is more cost effective to stick to the base car and individually choose the diff and sound system.
With a free-revving V8 – of the type that was the staple diet of M-cars, RS Audis and AMG Mercs from not so long ago, the RC F possesses an endearing character that is multi-layered in a way that many forced induction engines just cannot emulate.
Whether purchased new or nearly new, the standard RC F can be a great companion on a long journey offering a driving experience that is both fluid and fast The lower powered RC 200t and RC 300h models offer similar looks at the expense of the searing pace and soundtrack and while they are a solid choice, it is the RC F that has the unique selling point in this range.
Performance and specs
Lexus RC F
Engine 4969cc 32 valve DOHC V8
Power 470bhp @ 7100rpm
Torque 391lb.ft torque @ 4800-5600rpm
Top speed 168mph
Fuel consumption 26.2 mpg
Gearbox Eight-speed automatic
Dimensions and weight
Kerb weight 1840kg
• Being so new all RCs are still covered by the standard Lexus three year, 60,000mile warranty with the hybrid model receiving a further two year cover on its battery and hybrid components. Recurring issues have been limited to a few small items as discussed below.
• The active wing on the RC F can get stuck; this may simply be due to debris getting stuck in the mechanism or to a mechanical fault. Lexus engineers do not currently have a fix for this and just reset the wing however a resolution should be released soon.
• Fuel pump failures on RC F models have cropped up with a few owners however this is covered under the warranty
• Brakes can wilt under sustained hard driving and cars that have been used on track regularly can suffer from warped discs
• Low profile tyres and large alloys mean that kerbing and cracked rims can be an issue so be sure to check for this
2015: Lexus RC Coupe launched in the UK. Available in turbocharged petrol 245bhp RC 200t and hybrid 223bhp RC 300h versions as well as sporty RC F launched with 471bhp 5.0-litre V8. CVT transmission for hybrid and eight-speed automatic transmission for all other models
Owners clubs, forums and websites
• www.lexus.co.uk – Manufacturer site
• www.clublexus.com – Lexus enthusiasts site
Summary and prices
Being so new there are not too many used RCs out there to choose from however great savings can be had on nearly new cars so it is worth taking a look at what is available. A new RC F will set you back a smidgen over £60,000, or £8000 more for the Carbon pack. If you find a used one with your desired specification though, you could save well over £20,000 off the list price.
Of the mainstream models, the RC 300h has proven to be the most popular model, providing better performance and economy than the turbocharged petrol unit. Prices start from £35,995 for a basic spec new car, but you can find a barely run-in model with options for £30,000. The RC 200t can be over £40,000 new in Premier spec but opt for a year old model and your outlay is closer to £30,000 as well. Many cars generally get specified with some desirable options and these seldom translate into appreciably higher resale values so look out for highly-specced cars.
Words: John Tallodi // Images: Dean Smith/evo Magazine