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With a Lexus RC F drive behind us, we head out in this lesser four-cylinder 200t model on UK roads. Does less power and weight equal more fun?

Our Verdict

Lexus RC-F

Lexus looks to hit Mercedes-AMG and BMW M where it hurts

  • First Drive

    2016 Lexus RC 200t review

    With a Lexus RC F drive behind us, we head out in this lesser four-cylinder 200t model on UK roads. Does less power and weight equal more fun?
  • First Drive

    2015 Lexus RC F UK review

    We get behind the wheel of the Lexus RC F on UK roads to find out if it can surprise and delight enough to take on rivals such as the BMW M4
Richard Webber
18 January 2016

What is it?

It's a four-pot iteration of Lexus's RC coupé, slotting in below the 471bhp RC F V8. Already seen in the IS saloon and NX and RX SUVs, the RC 200t's twin-scroll turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine makes 241bhp and is allied to an eight-speed automatic gearbox derived from that used by the RC F.

In the F Sport spec driven here (statelier Premier trim is available, too), there's also a Torsen limited-slip differential and adaptive dampers to complement the performance-tweaked double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension.

Superficially, F Sport means intricate 19in alloys, more aggressive nose and tail styling than the Premier version, specific LED headlights, aluminium kickplates and sports pedals. There's also a fourth drive mode ('Sport S+', supplementing Eco, Normal and Sport in adjusting throttle, gearbox, steering and damper responses) and a trick instrument pack with a motorised dial derived from the departed LFA supercar.

What's it like?

For starters, quite big and quite heavy. Just as the RC F is significantly heavier than the BMW M4, the RC 200t F Sport is 170kg plumper than its closest Bavarian counterpart, the 420i, and a fun-size Mars bar longer. Faced with a 1675kg payload, the engine's 242bhp can only manage 7.5sec to 62mph - a metric that's at odds with extrovert styling that's not unlike a swollen, extra-terrestrial Toyota GT86.

But healthy speeds are reached pretty swiftly - albeit to an innocuous soundtrack of restrained growls and whines - and following a beat of lag, the engine pulls smoothly and consistently from 3000rpm to the redline just past 6000rpm. At a cruise the engine hushes, but ask for yet more steam and progress eases as the RC 200t's weight begins to tell.

The torque-converting eight-speed mirrors the engine by favouring smoothness over sharpness, doing so even in Sport S+, when kickdown can still be hesitant. The brakes, no different to the RC 300h hybrid's, are nevertheless progressive and effective.

Benefitting from a lighter nose than the RC F, the RC 200t's steering impresses. It's accurate, responsive and well weighted, and while feedback is muffled, this is one electric system that doesn't feel at all artificial, bolstering the cornering confidence lent by the Torsen differential.

To keep reins on the car's heft and in line with Lexus's conscious shift towards sportiness, the ride is firm but not crashy, and some motorway jitters and the occasional urban thump aren't overly unsettling. Body control is respectable at speed, and while there is some roll and dive, the car isn't undone by damp, rippling backroads, subject to the odd flutter of traction control.

The interior is familiar from the RC F, offering quality, comfort and many, many buttons. To nitpick, some carbonfibre-effect surfaces feel surprisingly cheap, and the optional touchpad multimedia interface is over-complicated and unintuitive.

The sculpted leather seats are firm, snug and supportive, and comfort was easily found for this frame in the front, although knees and head were both impeded enough to make the rear quarters - dimly lit thanks to thick B and C-pillars - practically untenable. Splitting and folding rear seats add flexibility to the deep but high-lipped 374-litre boot.

Should I buy one?

Specced up to match the Lexus, a 420i M Sport costs about the same, yet the BMW's consumption and emissions figures easily carry the day, The German is a smidge quicker, too, despite a 60bhp deficit.

The imminent Mercedes C200 AMG Line Coupé will elicit similar comparisons. Or you could forego some of the toys and choose a much quicker 428i M Sport, C300 AMG Line, or even a Ford Mustang 5.0 GT for the same money.

The RC 200t is an odd mix of sporting looks and hardware with an overweight chassis and/or underpowered engine. It boasts an emotional draw - key among them its unusualness - and some creditable dynamic skills, but it's hard to look past the on-paper superiority of stalwart rivals at the price.

Lexus RC 200t F Sport

Location Surrey; On sale Now; Price £36,495; Engine 4 cyls, 1998cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 241bhp at 5800rpm; Torque 258lb ft at 1650-4400rpm; Gearbox 8-spd auto; Kerb weight 1675kg; 0-62mph 7.5sec; Top speed 143mph; Economy 38.7mpg (combined); CO2 rating & BIK tax band 168g/km, 28%

Join the debate

Comments
11

18 January 2016
Simply because it has a more bullet proof reliability than any of the others and it is sufficiently different outside to put a smile on your face. Interior is lacking decent wood veneer which is a shame, maybe I am an old fart, but I do prefer eating from an oak table that a formica top

what's life without imagination

18 January 2016
A 420i M Sport auto is £42,005.00 if specified to the same standard specification as the RC 200t F Sport, which makes a significant difference of £5,505!!! Even at this price the 420I M Sport is still missing the RC's standard trick diff, ventilated front seats and electrically adjustable steering column with memory, as these are not even available as options on the 420i or any other 4 series. Maybe Autocar should actually specify the cars to the same level before they make comparisons on price but that seems unlikely to happen if the comparison favours a non-German product. Btw, I'm no Lexus fanboy but I am a car enthusiast who appreciates a less obvious bias to what he reads and a bias is never more evident when reading a review of a Lexus in the UK.

18 January 2016
In this spec it does look similar to the gt86 - which is £10k cheaper, 400kg lighter, more fun to drive and almost as practical. A 4 door Lexus would at least have proper space for passengers - but this coupe seems to lack a purpose in life.

18 January 2016
I think that is the worst colour I've seen on a car, ever.

18 January 2016
LOL @ choose a Ford Mustang 5.0 V8 GT for the same money.

19 January 2016
winniethewoo wrote:
LOL @ choose a Ford Mustang 5.0 V8 GT for the same money.
Why not? If it is your own personal money, and you aren't doing huge mileage, then there could well be a reason to compare. The lexus may be cheaper to run, and have a nicer interior, but that Mustang is going to be a lot of fun

18 January 2016
wouldn't choose orange myself but would choose this over a dull german yawnfest car. ALtho mustang at this price would be on the list as well.

18 January 2016
.... Autocar review, don't you guys get bored of the Lexus bashing once in a while? The RC200 t would definitely be on my shopping list if I was to part of my own cash rather than the BMW .... but hey Autocar knows best, get's its facts about the pricing completely wrong, ignores Lexus' bullet proof reliability and second to none dealer service! Aufwiedersehen!

CROmagnon

19 January 2016
a little more individual than the usual BMW/Merc alternatives, and that interior looks pretty special. Very average figures though...I can't help thinking they should have gone either full-loafer and turned the wick down on the engine (sky activ style) or jsut stick with the V8.

19 January 2016
I can see the appeal of this car for the private buyer (although not in that colour!). Would I choice it? Probably not.
michael knight wrote:
and that interior looks pretty special.
I think it looks a bit of a mess, but in a weird way, I really like it.

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