The Lexus RC must be glancing nervously over its shoulder. Waiting in the wing is the new LC500, a much more serious proposition that the company hopes will take it into the big league of luxury coupes offered by Mercedes, BMW and Jaguar. Right now, the more modest RC is the best-looking model Lexus makes by a country mile.
A mid-sized four-seater coupe, it has rakish looks and fluted, angular bodywork that is the best deployment of the company’s current design language to date, especially from the rear. Design inspiration came partly from the LFA supercar, just 500 of which were built at the turn of the decade, and under the skin the company has deployed its full technological arsenal.
The modest RC is currently the best-looking model Lexus makes by a country mile
The RC competes in the segment that has been dominated for many years by BMW’s 3-Series coupe, which is the default choice of ‘real’ drivers everywhere. That’s not to say the Japanese challenger isn’t worthy of your attention. In 300h spec it offers a convincing performance hybrid mode, with the silent running, smooth, low-emission features that characterise all Lexus’ mixed-powertrain cars.
It’s fast and comfortable and comes with a bucketload of gadgets and screens (Lexus doesn’t believe in making customers tick their way through expensive lists of optional extras), making ownership a truly premium experience. In ‘Premier’ trim you get the multi-speakered Mark Levinson sound system, a long-running collaboration that ensures Lexus interiors are blessed with excellent sounds.
Hybrid systems haven’t really filtered down to the coupe segment just yet, so in that respect the RC stands alone. There’s a much more focused RC F model that uses a 470bhp 5.0 litre V8, or a more modest 200t that does away with the hybrid system. The 300h straddles both worlds, not entirely successfully when it comes to performance and dynamic comparisons with its rivals.
Where it scores highly is in practicality; excellent economy, low emissions and a city-friendly near silent driveline matter more than they ever have done before, future proofing this model ahead of its more in-your-face siblings. Can the upcoming LC take Lexus style to an even higher level?