Before testing the lesser-powered turbocharged Lexus RC we first had to test Ben Barry. That’s because in last month’s Giant Test he declared the V8 version better than the BMW M4 and Ford Mustang, and some of us questioned the whereabouts of his marbles. Turns out he’s okay though. So, where does that leave the 200t, which is missing four of the RCF’s cylinders, 230 of its bhp, 133lb ft of its torque and much of its in-your-face attitude?
Answer: in surprising shape, considering that it also arrives at 62mph 3sec after the RCF, in a glacial 7.5, and thus should be expecting to have its head flushed down the loo by bullies, notably the lighter, more frugal, cleaner and faster BMW 420i. But the RC isn’t fazed. Despite its on-paper flaws it pulls clean and smooth, and although the engine has the aural charisma of a hover mower it trades sound for silence in a very Lexus manner. It keeps on pulling, too, deep into the 6k red zone, and does it all with a much thicker, creamier sense of ease than the BMW or Merc’s C200 Coupe. It’s like a Caribbean bartender – smooth, and much quicker than he seems.
Refinement, which is Lexus’s schtick but arguably not a key tenet for a sporty coupe, wins you over, even when tossing the RC through corners. The limited-slip diff and adaptive dampers that this F Sport spec retains produce both a fantastically settled ride and also a tidy line in cornering fluency. Stick it in Sport+ (an extra driving mode in this trim) and it really hunkers down, with quicker shifts, sharper throttle and meatier steering. Speaking of which, let’s hear it for the steering, which is as well-judged as any electric helm I’ve tried -including in a BMW.
The interior delivers fully on the chiselly exterior’s evocative promise, with smart, sporty leather seats, crisp, modem materials and headline-grabbing smart dials – though obviously we’re stuck with the bomb-disposal-delicate touchpad and rear seats so compromised the NSPCC might take a view. Best fold them and extend the small boot. So, pricey though the RC is, I can see where Ben Barry was coming from. The sensible among you may defer to the Germans, but check the residuals first. The RC’s acceleration may be glacial, but so might be its depreciation.