6

The four-pot iterations of Lexus's RC coupé, slot in below the 464bhp 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.

While naturally Lexus also has a hybrid model propping up the middle of the range, with a 2.5-litre petrol engine mated to an electric motor driven through a CVT gearbox punching out 216bhp.

There are three trims to choose from – Luxury, F Sport and Premier, with the entry-level trim available only on the 300h. This sees the RC 300h fitted with cruise control, electrically adjustable and ventilated front seats, a leather upholstery, keyless entry and parking sensors as standard

In the F Sport spec, as driven here, there's adaptive dampers to complement the performance-tweaked double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension, LED headlights, intricate 19in alloys and an aggressive bodykit version. Opt for the RC 200t in this trim and you’ll find a Torsen limited slip differential included.

The range-topping Premier models come with Lexus’s premium infotainment system including sat nav and a 17-speaker Mark Levinson speaker system, along with blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.

Getting out on the open road in the Lexus RC

The Lexus RC is 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.

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 Mercedes-Benz C 200 AMG Line Coupé will elicit similar comparisons. Or you could forego some of the toys and choose a much quicker 430i M Sport, C 300 AMG Line, or even a Ford Mustang 5.0 GT for the same money.

The RC 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.

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