Wednesday 7 December 2016

Lexus RC 200t: stunning looks but needs little more bite

First drive: Lexus RC 200t

Published 30/03/2016 | 02:30

Upmarket: Lexus RC 200t
Upmarket: Lexus RC 200t

It is a bit of a rarity these days to find a Lexus that is not a hybrid but that's what we have with the new RC 200t.

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This upmarket 2dr coupe, designed to tempt buyers away from the likes of the BMW 4-series Coupe, Audi A5 and new Mercedes C-Class Coupe, has a 245bhp 2-litre petrol turbocharged engine - don't worry there is a 2.5-litre full hybrid (RC 300h) too.

Because of its lower emissions the latter starts at €49,950, but the 2-litre turbo (166g/km - €570 road tax, 7.2l/100km) on test begins at €64,950.

Looks are so important in this area and the Lexus is ultra competitive. They have taken more risks - or shown more courage whichever way you want to describe it - with this than the opposition have.

And I think they nearly all come off brilliantly; perhaps there is a tad too much angle-and-curve for some tastes but I'd prefer to be saying that than complaining they hadn't gone far enough.

The reason I say that is because the RC represents a return to the coupe market at this level for the first time, really, since the old SC430, so they have to make, as they say, a 'statement'.

The cabin is outstanding; gorgeous in its design and detail of a leather-upholstered interior, with a freshness about it that has begun to mark the latest generation of models from Lexus.

On the face of it the 245bhp 2-litre engine should give this loads of shunt (0-100kmh in 7.5 seconds. Top speed 230kmh). It does but you have to work at it and that is its most disappointing feature.

The turbo kick should work better but it doesn't so you get that frustrating moment of suspended animation between plunging your right foot down and getting much of a response. That is a critical element in sporty coupes of this nature and by far the car's biggest drawback.

I wanted that instant push that a heavy right foot looks for in upping the revs but found that a bit frustrating, especially as it was developed, in part, at the world famous Nürburgring testing track.

The lag in response improved marginally in the higher drive modes (SPORT S / SPORT S+).

There's a great chassis, no doubt, and the suspension is tuned to the Sport side of comfortable leaving you with loads of steering and road feel coming back.

That part I thoroughly enjoyed. It really was excellent. It's a fresh, well-balanced new arrival and I can see why Lexus are saying they expect younger people to come buy one.

For sheer looks it wins by some distance and mine was particularly well decked out.

Equipment includes Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS), 6-speaker audio system, 7ins display screen (rotary dial), cruise control, electronic 2-zone climate control, electric front seats and much more.

It is a car that is probably going to be overshadowed by its hybrid counterpart purely on price.

But visually and technically either version can match the established rivals. The 200t would do even more only for that one time-lag blemish. Get that right and they have something quite, quite special here.

Indo Motoring

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