Talk about a mixture of old-school and ultra-modern. The Lexus RC is a proper rear-wheel drive, two-door coupe with an engine at the front and the driven wheels at the rear. It even has a V8. The ultra-modern bit is that it’s also available with a 2.5-litre petrol hybrid powertrain, so is plenty of fun and economical too.
There certainly aren’t many better-looking cars out there than the Lexus RC, which manages to combine sleek sophistication with a hint of menacing muscle. The front end is dominated by the huge grille, which has the large Lexus emblem right in the middle.
At either end are heavily sculpted scoops for vents to keep the brakes cool, while the large headlight units extend into the front wings and also feature super-bright arrow-shaped LED daytime running lights.
The low and sleekly shaped glass area gives an impression of being in a cockpit, while the curving sides hint at luxury and sophistication. There’s also a strong crease heading from the trailing edge of the front wheel arch to a point at the end of each tail light.
The angular, arrow-shaped theme of the front lights continues at the rear, where the tail lights bisect the boot lid. Below the bumper sit two large tailpipes, hinting at the car’s power, although the ‘stacked’ pipes of the RC F model point to even greater performance.
There certainly aren’t many better-looking cars out there than the Lexus RC.
What’s it like to drive?
The 2.5-litre hybrid version is great in town, where the engine keeps itself to itself and the hybrid system can switch to battery power as much as possible.
Out of town, the performance is more likely to produce a small smile than give you actual goosebumps. Unless, that is, you’re driving the 5.0-litre V8-powered RC F version. It rumbles like a NASCAR and goes like one, too.
Either version of the RC has quite firm suspension, although this stops short of being uncomfortable, and means that the car is reasonably adept at changing direction.
The steering gives you a fair idea of what the grip level is like at the front tyres – and is light and quick enough to make parking simple.
The 2.5-litre hybrid version is great in town.
You’ll have to look extremely hard indeed to find anything that feels even remotely out of place in such an expensive and exclusive coupe. Lexus simply doesn’t make below-par interiors, and so it continues here. The dashboard and door trims are designed to look unusual, but it’s no good if this hampers usability. The good news is that it doesn’t.
The door trims are curving with the controls for the door mirrors and electric windows just where they should be. The handle you pull to shut the door is quite a long way back, so is a bit of a stretch when the door is fully open.
Still, the heavily sculpted dashboard works just fine. The steering wheel itself is round (no flat bottoms here) and has buttons for the audio system and telephone set-up, plus the cruise control.
The central dial ahead of the driver can be configured to show speed, revs, power source and average economy. This is surrounded by other gauges. To the left of the steering wheel is an infotainment screen that shows information on the sat-nav, phone, audio and DAB systems. This is controlled using a touchpad and some buttons behind the gear lever.
A beautiful analogue clock sits front and centre, then the sloping panel for the audio system is below the screen and is flanked at either end by touch-sensitive ‘sliders’ to adjust the cabin temperature. The centre console then contains controls to adjust the suspension and drivetrain.
If you’re looking for practicality, may we direct you to the MPV section? You appear to have wandered into the 2+2 area. The Lexus RC actually has decent space for a couple of adults up front - and there’s plenty of adjustability for the driving position. Better still, most things move electrically, so there’s no effort required.
The back-seat area is definitely more for children rather than adults because there isn’t a vast amount of legroom, and the sloping roofline will force you to crick your neck.
The boot area is perfectly adequate, although the hybrid RC has a bit less space because of the positioning of the hybrid system’s batteries beneath the floor. Still, it has folding rear seats, whereas the sportier RC F doesn’t.
Running costs and reliability
You wouldn’t expect a big two-door coupe to be the epitome of efficiency. The hybrid Lexus RC does a pretty good impression. It has an official average economy figure of 56.5mpg.
The monster V8 RC F, however, does bring this down a bit with an official average of 26.2mpg. Insurance for the hybrid model starts at group 31, but the RC F sits in group 45.
What we love
The Lexus RC is a rare thing indeed. It’s a hot-blooded, good-looking two-door coupe that you can enjoy driving without feeling like it’ll bankrupt you with the frequency of fuel stops – or that you look like you’re having a mid-life crisis. The hybrid version is rapid enough to raise a smile, while the RC F model will raise your pulse rate at the same time. The big V8 also sounds like it’s escaped from a racing circuit, which is cool.
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Where the Lexus RC stands out is in the fact it doesn’t stand out. It’s the quiet man (at least until you fire up its 5.0-litre V8) that does a great job of making you feel good about buying it, but not shouting about it to everyone else. It’s luxurious, well-kitted out and good to drive too.
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