Review: 2016 Lexus RC 200t
– Detroit, Michigan
Reality check: most people like coupes because of the way they look, more than the way they drive.
Car journalists often get a skewed vision of the world. Case in point is the Lexus RC, a car that I’d driven several times in RC F guise – with the rubber-melting 5.0-liter V8 engine – and once, briefly, with the V6 as the RC 350. Before something called the “RC 200t” showed up on the Motor1 car board, I only faintly remembered that Lexus now offered the coupe with a turbocharged four-cylinder.
Referring back to my opening statement though, of course there’s a 2.0T version. Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz also have coupes of similar size with similar powertrains. Because, well, some folks just want two doors and a slinky roofline, regardless of what it’s packing under the hood.
- With the visual punch of the F Sport package – bigger wheels, sports seats, perforated leather on the steering wheel and shifter, etc. – the RC 200t is every bit the motoring wildflower as its RC F brother, especially in this ludicrous, almost lickable shade of Creamsicle Orange (actually called “Molten Pearl”). When I drove it to my friend Wolfgang’s birthday party, a buddy asked, “Whose supercar is in the driveway?” We had the RC F in exactly the same color the week before this 200t, and I can say that the attention paid by onlookers to both cars was roughly equal, despite the precipitous drop in horsepower (which is hard to see from the curb).
- Looks are subjective, and this design is especially polarizing, so I’m not sure if the styling of the RC is really a pro or a con. I don’t see a lot of them around my neighborhood, at least so you’re not likely to be the third person on the block with one.
- Following the reality check, let me comment on the engine through the lens of a shopper that isn’t power mad. Producing 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, the turbo four offers quick acceleration from a stop, competent power on the highway, and a generally drama free, business-like behavior. It certainly doesn’t read as a “fast car,” but neither do any of the class-competitive variants from other brands.
- For the easygoing, daily drivable version of a two-door car, the RC has some practical challenges. The low, deep bucket seats aren’t especially easy to get into and out of; visibility is poor, even in this class; and the trunk is a bit smaller than the competitive set.
- You’d think that the 2.0T version of the RC is the one with the best fuel economy, and you’d be right in a way – this engine drinks less gas than the big V8 to be sure. But the Lexus is still heavy – nearly 300 pounds heavier than the BMW 428i Coupe – and is therefore near the back of the class for fuel economy at 22 miles per gallon city, and 32 highway. Yes, the Cadillac ATS Coupe does a bit worse, but its 2.0T also makes 32 more horsepower and 37 more pound-feet than does the Lexus mill.
- The hefty curb weight doesn’t positively affect the RC’s handling, either. At a medium cruise or doing highway duty the Lexus feels stable enough, sure, but light, numb steering meets slightly sluggish chassis response when you encounter curves. If you’re looking for an occasional playmate, there are sharper steers to be found for this money.
Photos: Seyth Miersma / Motor1.com