The new Lexus RC: 'Different, individual, striking and highly covetable'
The new Lexus RC: 'Different, individual, striking and highly covetable'

Lexus RC 300h, car review: Great looking coupé with full hybrid drivetrain

The RC is the first Lexus likely to win admiring glances from adolescent boys

Sean O'Grady
Wednesday 11 May 2016 12:05
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If I tell you that the Lexus RC is the best-looking Lexus ever you might think that a near-oxymoronic thing to claim: A bit akin to “best-ever Chuckle Brothers’ Docu-Drama”, or “best ever Katie Hopkins contribution to community cohesion”.

You get my drift, I hope. Of course it is an unecessarily rude way of describing the stunningly well-proportioned lines of this hi-tech coupé, but, like the scorpion in the fable who bites the frog giving him a lift across the river, it’s just the way I am. But it is not just the way Lexus cars used to be. When the whole Lexus thing started up, in the late 1980s, they were the Toyota motor company’s stab at creating a Mercedes-like luxury brand. So they looked like, and were built like, Mercedes-Benz saloons: solidly over-engineered, but no lookers. Later on came some vaguely fashionable SUVs such as the RX, and then some more adventurously styled saloons such as the IS. The RC obviously surpasses all of these, and is the first Lexus to win admiring glances from adolescent boys. Nice work, guys. It is as if the Lexus stylists took some of the best looking coupés of the past – the Datsun 240Z, say, or the more recent BMW 3-series coupes and improved on them. Unlike some other more recent Lexus products they haven’t gone over the top, either. The drama is just right. It seats four by the way, but is really built for two, like all the best coupés.

2016 Lexus RC 300h

On Sale: Now
Price: £34,995
Engine: 2.5 litre petrol plus hybrid electric motor
Power: 178bhp at 6,000rpm
Top speed: 118mph
0-62 mph: 8.6sec
Economy: 57.6mpg
CO2: 113g/km

Much less dramatic is the drivetrain. Being a hybrid, Prius-style, means occasionally silent running nice if you want to avoid waking the neighbours in the morning or simply want to show off (it is still a bit of a novelty). The combination of petrol and electric motor gives fine performance, though at above, say, 50mph, the insistent urge of the electric motor does make its presence felt when you press on. So it isn’t quite the last word in refinement, nor fuel economy. It is really about balancing the strengths of the electric motor (low speed urge) and the petrol engine (more responsive at higher speeds, broadly). It does this very effectively, but, as I say, it isn’t fuss-free.

'The best looking Lexus' but not without some very minor flaws

If I’m going to be even more critical, or picky, I’d also criticise the controls for the sat nav and climate control which run from a little pad on the centre armrest, and is just like the one on your lap top. Except, being to your left side and in a moving car it isn’t that easy to use, to be honest, especially when it is so very sensitive. In the iPad era, I miss a touch screen, and so will you.

Still, I think I’d get used to these little shortcomings if I was the proud owner of this car, and I would be a very proud owner indeed. There are other, petrol-only versions, including a V8, which sounds like fun, but there are no diesels, which may be just as well. The Lexus RC is different, individual, striking and highly covetable, with a few tiny flaws – a bit like how all of us would like to think of ourselves.

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