Mainstream RC models both use four cylinder petrol engines to produce just under 250bhp, but achieve that goal in very different ways. The RC 200t we’re trying here goes the conventional route, with a straightforward twin-scroll 2. 0-litre turbo unit developing 241bhp. Its ultimate performance is blunted a little by this car’s relatively heavy weight, but 62mph can still be reached in 7. 5s en route to 143mph. More importantly, it feels quite sporty, aided by a low-slung driving position and the rapid shifts of the standard eight-speed Sports Direct shift auto transmission you have to have.
The gearshift change times, the agreeably firm ride and the surprisingly direct and feelsome steering can all, along with throttle response, be altered by various modes of the standard ‘Drive Mode Select’ system, activated by this silver rotary dial near the gearstick. Go for the ‘F SPORT’ variant and you also get ‘Adaptive Variable Suspension’ and a Torsen limited slip differential to help you get the power down through the bends. Most RC buyers will go for the 2. 5-litre petrol/electric RC 300h hybrid derivative that puts out 220bhp, yet is capable of 57. 6mpg on the combined cycle and 113g/km of CO2. In other words, you’ve all the ingredients for what might arguably be the most sensible sporting car you could buy.
One of the key reasons you might want the Lexus RC lies with the way it looks. This mainstream version inevitably does without the arresting machismo of its high performance RC F stablemate, but it’ll still turn heads, especially if you specify the distinctive orange ‘Solar Flare’ paintwork.
Inside, the driver-focused theme continues in a leather-lined cabin deliciously different to the German class norm in its statement of style. Though much of it is derived from the brand’s humbler IS saloon, there’s still an agreeably expensive feel, with lovely touches like the metal surround to the analogue clock. It's not ostentatious and some of the materials are quite varied, but it looks good, unique, cultured and clever, especially in the ‘F SPORT’ guise.
Look a little more closely at what on offer though and the picture brightens. For a start, most versions of this RC 200t get as standard the proper temporary spare wheel that costs extra on those rival German models and would decrease their luggage space. Plus all RC buyers get a 60:40 split-folding rear backrest that will allow you to accommodate larger loads.
Sometimes, first impressions count and we’d wager the RC would be seen by most as the classier, more up-market proposition. That’ll matter to potential coupe customers, as will the fact that this car is not only good looking but also beautifully built, agreeably rapid, lavishly equipped and everyday-usable.
In summary, this is not only a more interesting, individualistic choice in this segment, but arguably a rather clever one. A certain kind of buyer will like this RC very much. And we can understand why.