On a hot windy day atop a hill in Australia’s capital, Lexus proudly displayed their latest LX, GS and RC cars. Canberra’s Arboretum is a great back drop to showcase Japanese luxury. It’s a shame we didn’t get a chance to check out the National Bonsai Collection housed within he grounds. Perhaps next time.
Lexus does good face and the RC200t adds a 2.0L turbo to a coupe that is as bold and handsome as ever.
“Dynamic” is my word dujour. The RC is stunning whether you like the look or not. Lexus RC is by far the nicest looking coupe in the segment making Mercedes, Audi and BMW look a little plain by comparison. The 200t carries the same styling to give the Lexus RC a base model without stripping away the character. The delicious lines are meant to shock and challenge, and so they do.
Complex LED headlights and “L” shaped LED slashes for daytime running lights make the front look angry and aggressive. I’m not a huge fan of the enormous “hourglass” grill and have a love/hate relationship with it. The side profile and rear end are fantastically sculptured which is where the daring design has defined itself in a way the Germans want to, but haven’t yet accomplished. I could go on, but I won’t except to say only the base model get 18” wheels, the other 2 trim levels get 19”.
We have the delicious interior from other models. It is refined without being fussy. You expect to be dazzled by the interior as you are on the outside, but you’re not. The startling metalwork is great but would be wearing on the nerves were that language to be continued in the cabin, so it is soft, sophisticated and calming. There isn’t a world of difference between the trim levels. Slightly different seats and coverings but the leather feels quality and the support more than adequate.
The tech is present and you can add extra with various packs for many extra shekels. The Levinson sound is great but let down slightly by a fussy, hard to use trackpad input. Lexus steadfastly refuse to have their pristine LCD monitors sullied by finger prints. BAH HUMBUG!
Anything not using the CarPlay interface feels ancient. Not only does CarPlay use Siri, it also uses Maps rather than a Satnav native to the brand. For this reason it is always up to date. More to the point, the Voice control works every time, including addresses. If you want something you just have to ask the car and wait to be told. If you want an address, simply say it then tell the car to take you there. Because we have now used CarPlay many times, anything else feels prehistoric.
Worse still, the SatNav software in the Lexus is a bit naff and because input is difficult and fiddly, feels hard to use. Bring on the touch screens and CarPlay and step into the 21st century people!
We’ve driven the RC 350 and we loved it. It does a 0-100 sprint in about 6 seconds. It feels brisk and alive, and although aging, is still my favourite Lexus engine, at least while I am paying for the petrol. Thankfully, the 2.5L V6 has been pensioned off to be replaced by a plucky 2.0L turbo 4. The 2.0L unit has more torque and power which is delivered smoothly with lower emissions and consumption. It isn’t as brisk as the 3.5, but it isn’t meant to be. This is a car for the open road rather than the track. If you want a track car, Toyota has an 86 to flog you.
The steering is sharp and the brakes responsive with a luxurious rather than sporty feel. As you get older, ride is important and the RC 200t feels poised and has adjustable modes. Frankly I can never notice all that much difference because normal mode does everything most people are going to ask of it. Of course the 8 speed auto shifts imperceptibly most of the time but you can paddle yourself into a frenzy if you wish. Personally, I rarely bother using the shifters because the auto does a better job. Of course if the paddles were absent we would bang on about it, so make of that what you will.
It fits in neatly under the 3.5 rounding off the engine range pretty well. Those wanting to have their heads taken off will opt for the manic RC-F and those who want less performance will take the 3.5. The rest will go for the 200t because most buyers do most of their driving in town most of the time. A turbo for with an 8 speed auto is perfect. It’s worth noting that 2nd-8th gears have a lock-up torque converter meaning no slip twixt the cup and the lip. Therefore better fuel usage. We didn’t drive long enough to get a good handle on the consumption so will leave that until we’ve had more time behind the wheel.
It changed direction easily leaving the driver insulated from the road without feeling isolated from the feel. It didn’t feel quite as well planted as a 4 series BMW but that’s not a bad thing, just different. Some will like it and some won’t.
In short, I loved the way it drove. Once you get your head around the fact you’re not driving a V8 or even a V6, the performance makes sense. You accept the trade-off between performance and economy. There are other choices in the range for well-healed homos to choose if they want to get where they are going a few seconds faster.
It is sexy, luxurious and unique. The latter it the most attractive attribute. There is also a sense that Lexus is a bit special. For those without the German Badge fetish, this fact will be obvious but some will always buy on brand. Personally I’d welcome the idea of driving a car which feels exclusive rather than ubiquitous. Do I care that someone at a party would say “oh really, you didn’t get the M series. Oh dear”? No and I’ll tell you why: almost without exception, the cretinous drip making the statement can afford neither and is having a bad case of penis envy. Frankly who cares what he thinks even if he does in fact own a Merc, Audi or BMW?
The tern GT is used for big powerful coupes capable of crossing vast distances in comfort but what if you don’t want that ludicrous fuel bill. What if you want the luxury of a Euro GT without the burden of stopping every few minutes to fill the tank?
Would I buy one: Yes, I loved it. As much as I adore the v6 and V8, I simply can’t justify the crazy fuel prices for a few moments of acceleration.
“The 180kW dual-injection turbo 8AR-FTS engine supersedes the 2.5-litre quad cam V6 in entry-level GS and expands the RC Line to three engine variants.
The new GS 200t has 38 per cent more torque and 17 per cent more power than superseded GS 25”0
Price: A$64,000 – $83,500
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo, 180kW and 350Nm
RC 200t and RC 350 pricing
New RC 200t is available in three grades – Luxury, F Sport and Sports Luxury.
RC 200t Luxury, retailing for $64,000*, arrives in Australia with considerable standard performance and luxury features, including:
- 2.0-litre turbo engine
- 18-inch alloy wheels
- LED headlamps
- LED foglamps
- smooth leather-accented trim
- heated and ventilated front seats
- power steering column adjustment
- power front seats
- smart entry and start
- satellite navigation
- 10-speaker audio system
- Back Guide Monitor
- clearance and back sonar
- eight airbags
- Pre-Collision Safety System with autonomous emergency braking
- All-Speed Active Cruise Control, and
- front performance damper.
One enhancement pack is available, which includes moonroof, for $2500.
The RC 200t F Sport model, which retails for $73,000*, builds on the entry level specification to include the following:
- 19-inch F Sport alloy wheels
- Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS)
- 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio
- F Sport steering wheel
- sports power front seats with memory function
- LED high grade headlamps
- Blind Sport Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert
- limited slip differential, and
- Acceleration Sound Control (ACS).
Two enhancement packs are available for RC 200t F Sport.
The first includes moonroof and retails for $2500.
The second comprises moonroof, Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Automatic High Beam (AHB) and smart key card for an additional $3500.
Range-topping RC 200t Sports Luxury adds further premium standard specification including unique Sports Luxury 19-inch wheels, semi-aniline leather seats, Shimamoku ornamentation, Automatic High Beam and Lane Departure Warning.
RC 200t Sports Luxury retails for $83,500*.
Updated V6-powered RC 350 features the same specification level as RC 200t Luxury but adds Pre-Collision Safety system and All-Speed Active Cruise Control, which are enhancements over the previous RC 350.
RC 350 Luxury is priced at $67,000* and differs from the corresponding RC 200t model by adding an intake sound creator to provide a deep audible roar in the cabin to complement the quad cam V6 powerplant.
It has one enhancement pack available at $2500.
RC 350 F Sport mirrors the specification of RC 200t F Sport but adds Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS) and Active Rear Steering.
It offers more standard specification than the RC 350 F Sport it replaces including the addition of Pre-Collision Safety System, Active Cruise Control, limited slip differential, front performance damper and Acceleration Sound Control (ACS).
This model retails for $76,000*.
The enhancement packs mirror those of RC 200t F Sport in price and specification.
RC 350 Sports Luxury, which retails for $86,500*, offers the same high grade specification level as RC 200t Sports Luxury.