Lexus might not be the first choice when it comes to a compact luxury coupe. But when I drove the RC 350 F-Sport back in 2015, we found it to be a very capable coupe. Aside from the creamsicle paint color, the RC impressed me with distinctive styling, punchy V6, and sharp handling. Two years later, I find myself revisiting the RC - this time with the base 2.0L turbo-four engine. As I would find out during our week, there is a lot to like about the standard RC. But there is one glaring issue that would make me look at a competitor.
The standard RC’s design somehow balances a handsome shape with extroverted details. The front features the widest version of the spindle grille, slits in the front bumper, and LED lighting under the headlights. Bulging fenders and rounded roofline make the RC stand out from the crowd.
There are only two things I would change about this RC. First is the color. The silver paint on our tester makes the RC a bit dull to look at. Something more vibrant such as a red would really help out. We would also swap the 5-spoke, 18-inch wheels for the wheels found on the F-Sport package.
The interior hasn’t changed since we last drove the RC and that’s both a good and bad thing. The good is that the RC still has the IS’ dash design which makes the vehicle’s sporting intentions clear. It is easy to find a comfortable position in the front seats thanks to the power adjustments on offer.
The bad? It begins with the infotainment system. A 7-inch screen is nestled far back in the dash, making it hard to read at a quick glance. I wished Lexus had upgraded the screen to the 10.2-inch version found in the refreshed IS. The optional Remote Touch system is a bit frustrating to use as you have be very precise when making your selection. One slip of the finger and you’ll end up with a different selection.
Don’t expect to carry passengers in the RC’s backseat as leg room is non-existent. It's better to use it as a place for cargo.
What is that glaring issue I mentioned at the beginning? That would be the turbo 2.0L. It produces 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Power delivery can best be described as the engine delivers enough oomph to move the vehicle from a stop, before falling off a cliff. There isn’t that rush of power throughout the rpm band that you would have in another model such as the Cadillac ATS 2.0T.
On the upside, the 2.0L turbo in the RC didn’t have the horrendous turbo lag that I experienced in the IS 200t last year.
The eight-speed automatic that comes standard on rear-drive models delivers smooth gear changes. I did find myself wishing the gear changes were somewhat quicker when the RC is put into the Sport mode via the drive selector.
The standard RC fits the definition of a ‘Gran Tourer’. It may not handle as well as the RC 350 F-Sport in the bends - there is little bit more body roll and the steering isn’t as direct. But most people who drive it will be ok with that as it is ‘just right’. On rough roads, the RC 200t excels as bumps are smoothed over.
Wind noise is mostly nonexistent, while there is a fair amount of road noise coming inside.
The 2017 RC 200t begins at $40,155. With a modest amount of options such as navigation, blind spot monitoring, and adaptive cruise control, the as-tested price came to $45,234.
The RC 200t is mostly show and not much go. For some folks, that’s all they want. A coupe that stands out in and tells the world to look at me. For others, save up a bit more money and go for the 350. The added performance of the V6 gives the coupe the go it deserves.
Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the RC 200t, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Engine: Turbo 2.0L DOHC 16-valve with Dual VVT-i
Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 241 @ 5,800
Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,650-4,400
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/32/26
Curb Weight: 3,737 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan
Base Price: $40,155
As Tested Price: $45,234 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge)
Navigation System - $1,470.00
Premium Package - $1,240.00
Dynamic Radar Cruise Control w/Pre-Collison - $500.00
Illuminated Door Sills - $449.00
Windshield Deicer and Headlamp Cleaner - $220.00
Door Edge Guards - $115.00
All-Weather Floormats - $110.00