The stylishly aggressive Lexus RC line-up is led by the mighty RC F powered by an awesome 5.0-litre engine. It is the most powerful V8 performance car to be produced by the company and it’s sleekly styled for optimum performance capabilities. But there are slightly tamer RC hybrid models that are certainly worth checking out along the way too.
The goodStyling, handling and all-round driving dynamics
The badUp against some established rivals from BMW and Jaguar
Lexus RC 300h F Sport
Words, phrases and sentences seem to get condensed these days so it’s very easy to get bamboozled by all the statistics and data that accompany new cars. There are 0-62mph dash times, bhp and PS, Nm of grunt and torque, CO2 and all sorts of acronyms and initialisms representing safety systems. But one figure that impressed me on my latest test car was the economy or should I say the mpg?
The car in question was the Lexus RC 300h hybrid model that cleverly mates a 2.5-litre naturally-aspirated petrol engine with an electric motor combination to produce 220bhp and it’s as efficient and impressive as it gets.
Of course, Lexus is a marque that has long been committed to hybrid technology and this latest two-door coupe model is testament to that know-how. It looks sublime thanks to its athletic, yet muscular lines, F Sport bumpers, LED daytime running lights, spindle grille, LED front and rear lights and chunky 19-inch F Sport alloy wheels.
The beautifully crafted interior is Lexus through and through with a solid build quality and all the on-board technology you could wish for. A large central partition separates the two front seats and there’s a wealth of techno treats to explore mainly via a touchpad that takes a little getting used to, but after a while is quick and simple to operate.
The interior is lavish in its design with deep red and contrasting black leather upholstery, plenty of soft touch surfaces and a whole host of read-outs. The instrumentation behind the steering wheel can be personalised with sections sliding in and out according to preference and there are energy monitoring screens that display the engine, electric motor and battery set-ups all working in tandem.
Creature comforts are plentiful and include a pitch perfect Mark Levinson sound system, sat nav, CD player, Bluetooth connectivity, USB ports, plus heated and electrically-powered seats with memory settings for the driver. There is dual-zone climate control, cruise control and a seven-inch multimedia screen.
When it comes to performance and driving dynamics, the RC 300h F Sport, priced at £39,645 (£43,265 with options), can sprint to 62mph from a standing start in 8.6 seconds, tops out at 118mph, and can deliver combined fuel efficiency of 56.5mpg with carbon emissions of 116g/km. The reason I mentioned the fuel economy figure being so impressive was we saw an average of 56.2mpg during our week-long trial – normally the official and actual figures can be worlds apart but not on this occasion.
The other really impressive factor about the RC 300h F Sport is the way it handles. It’s a car that immediately feels comfortable to drive and can deliver a calm or exhilarating driving experience depending on your mood. There is a choice of driving modes called Eco, Normal and Sport with the latter really sharpening up the handling and responses. In addition, there are EV and Snow modes for harsher driving conditions.
The acceleration through the electric CVT transmission is smooth and there are steering wheel mounted paddle shifts if you fancy taking a little more control over gear changes.
In busy town centres, the Lexus proved beautifully agile and easy to manoeuvre through the crowds, although the rear-view visibility through the tiny window is a little limited.
Then out on the faster roads, the car really comes into its own. The road holding is ultra-assured and there is ample driver feedback through the precise steering. Cabin noise is kept to a minimum and the ride is good even over undulating road surfaces.
Comfort levels up front are excellent thanks to the highly supportive sports seats but like most sports coupe models, if you are relegated to the rear seats, you have to question who you’ve offended! The space in the back is very limited and the small triangular windows make it quite a claustrophobic experience. Plus, to make things even more difficult the rear seats slope backwards so it really is a case of once you’re in, you stay there until help arrives!
The boot has a storage capacity of 340 litres and elsewhere there are a number of convenient cubby holes to safely store bits and bobs, including a lockable glovebox, cup holders, narrow door pockets and a central bin.
My only other gripe during the week was the somewhat fiddly touchscreen. I tried to zoom out on the map and before I knew it I was homing in on Madrid!
But that aside, the RC 300h hybrid is an absolute delight to drive. It looks fabulous, is packed with all the latest kit, it drives beautifully and offers hybrid technology from one of, if not the best in the business.
Lexus RC F
Lexus may not be a name that immediately springs to mind when you contemplate purchasing a sports car. After all, it’s the premium arm of Toyota most commonly associated with fuel-saving hybrids, luxury SUVs and large saloons.
But thanks to the introduction of the exquisite RC F all that is about to change.
Powered by a 5.0-litre V8 engine delivering a whopping 471bhp and boasting a 0-62mph sprint time of just 4.5 seconds plus a top speed that is electronically-limited to 168mph, the RC F definitely has all the right credentials to position itself in the sports car category.
And then there are the looks. For the RC-F looks fabulous from every angle possible. Stand-out features include the beautifully streamlined body with race-bred aerodynamic styling, numerous cooling vents, 19-inch alloys, an active rear spoiler, a spindle grille with F motif mesh, sweeping headlight clusters, tinted windows, four tailpipes and auto-dimming, power-folding door mirrors.
Move inside the cabin and the level of on-board technology cannot fail to impress. There are body-hugging high-backed sports seats that can be heated or ventilated, a 10-speaker sound system with DVD player and DAB radio, a 7-inch high resolution screen, sat nav, Bluetooth connectivity, a chunky three-spoke sports steering wheel, dual zone climate control and lots more besides.
Navigating the car’s many systems can take a little getting used to via a touchpad, but after taking a few minutes to familiarise yourself with the feature, it is quite simple.
And it’s also worth mentioning the smart leather-styled hood that houses the TFT display and large circular rev counter that changes in appearance when you shift through the optional driving modes – eco is quite conventional looking, whereas move up through Normal, Sport S and Sport S+ and you will see all sorts of additional information appearing.
Just like any other sports coupe the space in the rear seats is very limited, but the RC F does boast quite a generously-sized boot with a capacity of 366 litres and elsewhere there is a deep central bin, glovebox, practically-sized cup holders and door pockets for storage purposes.
So it would be reasonable to say the RC F really looks the business and is packed with technology and creature comforts, but obviously this car is all about performance and handling so how does it fare?
The answer is exceptionally well.
Push the start button and you are greeted with a roar from the V8 petrol engine. With the slightest pressure on the accelerator that roar builds into a crescendo of noise and that is just a hint of what’s to come!
The acceleration is blisteringly quick, but somehow the car remains refined and controlled in the process.
It moves through the eight-speed automatic gearbox at a rapid pace and you can take extra control of the gear changes by using the paddle shifts.
At lower rev counts, the RC F doesn’t feel over-powered, but move up to about 5,000rpm and it’s like being fired from a canon. The road-holding is exceptional and the precise steering makes light work of twisting roads.
In addition, there are gadgets and features galore to add to the fun. A Torque-Vectoring Differential (£3,500 option) delivers an enhanced steering response when cornering and increased traction when exiting a bend. There are three settings – Standard for normal driving, Slalom for improved steering and finally, Track which emphasises stability for high-speed driving.
As one would expect, Lexus has packed the RC F with a comprehensive range of safety features, such as eight airbags, anti-lock brakes with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution, traction control, stability control, rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist and lots more.
All in all, the RC F may not be the cheapest sports car available costing £60,995 (£66,415 with options) and it’s possibly not the most efficient either with combined fuel economy of 26.2mpg, but it is magnificent to look at, wonderful fun to drive and you will have a real sense of uniqueness that cannot be experienced when driving one of the big-selling German marques.