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2017 Lexus RC 200t Overview
The Lexus RC was introduced for the 2015 model year to compete with German coupes like the BMW 4 Series, Audi A5, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. While RC apparently stands for “Radical Coupe,” it is essentially just a 2-door version of the IS. The base trim, the RC 200t, is still fairly exclusive at over 40 grand, and the available F Sport performance package costs even more.
The RC is 1 inch narrower and longer than the IS, and it looks every bit the part of a sporty coupe with sharp lines, a low and sloping roofline, and Lexus’ polarizing but eye-catching hourglass grille. The RC lineup culminates with the 467-hp V8 RC F, but the RC 200t is a bit more bark than bite. Its engine is a 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder also used in the IS and GS, and it makes 241 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, which is directed to the rear wheels via an 8-speed automatic. Those are perfectly decent power figures, but the RC weighs almost two full tons. Its 0-to-60 time of 7.3 seconds seems respectable, but this is an expensive car—for reference, a BMW 428i will reach 60 in well under 6 seconds. That’s a massive difference. Critics have noted some throttle lag under hard acceleration, but the Sport mode available with the F Sport package somewhat alleviates this issue. Fuel economy, meanwhile, is a decent 22 mpg city, 32 highway, and 26 combined, making the 200t the most efficient in the RC lineup.
All Lexus RCs get a double-wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear suspension, and they steer via an electronically assisted power system. The available F Sport package, which costs about $5,000, adds adaptive dampers, a sport-tuned suspension, larger 19-inch wheels, variable-gear-ratio steering, a Sport driving mode, and tweaks to the stability-control system.
On the interior, the RC 200t has low, supportive bucket seats that feature extra stitching with the F Sport package. The car technically has rear seats, but anyone other than a small child won’t be comfortable there for very long. The rear seats do split and fold, which is helpful, because trunk space is tight at 10.4 cubic feet. That’s enough room for some golf clubs, but not much else.
Standard interior features for the RC 200t include heated front seats, automatic climate control, cruise control, HD Radio, Siri Eyes Free, and Bluetooth. An available Luxury package adds heated and ventilated leather seats, rain-sensing wipers, a blind-spot monitor, and a power-adjustable steering wheel. Lexus’ Enform infotainment system features a Remote Touch input pad that responds to standard touchscreen gestures. This new system hasn’t been universally praised, although the base system with a roller controller isn’t any better. Additional options include navigation, a premium Mark Levinson stereo, and a moonroof.
The RC 200t has received Top Safety Pick+ status from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and is available with numerous modern safety features. Hill-start assist is standard, and options include a rear-view camera, forward-collision warning with adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, and cross-traffic alerts. The RC 200t’s main appeal, though, is for those who want a stylish, sporty coupe and are willing to sacrifice some performance to avoid the maintenance costs that can come with a German badge. On several fronts, the RC 200t doesn’t quite live up to the standards of its rivals, but it’s still a worthy alternative in other areas and shouldn’t be ignored.
Andrew Newton first got into cars through vintage racing a Formula Vee. After receiving history degrees, he followed his passion for cars and became a contributor for sites like Sports Car Digest, BoldRide.com and JamesEdition.com in addition to serving as Education Manager at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA. Andrew currently covers the collector car market full time as Auction Editor for Hagerty Classic Car Insurance.
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