2016 Lexus RC 200t review: Sportiness with aggressive styling

Lexus RC 200t F Sport

Lexus has definitely made its car line sportier with its RC coupe.

The RC is an aggressively styled four-seater that comes in a variety of trim levels and with rear- or all-wheel drive.

The tight rear-seat area actually is suitable only for children, making the RC a two-plus-two. Even the front seat area isn’t spacious, but it’s comfortable enough for tall occupants.

The trunk is fairly large, and the split folding rear seats can be used to enlarge the cargo area.

Lexus RC 200t F Sport

I tested the new, base $39,995 RC 200t, which is available only with rear wheel drive. This model makes the most sense for many buyers of the car. It has an 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with all the tricks: a twin-scroll turbocharger, intercooler, variable valve timing and direct injection.

Developed in-house, the engine generates 241 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque  at 1,560-4,400 rpm.

The broad torque range makes the engine responsive at all speeds, although I noticed a slight acceleration lag when moving normally off the line. Lexus claims a 0-60 mph time of 7.3 seconds and a top speed of 143 mph.

Lexus RC 200t F Sport

Estimated fuel economy is pretty good for a 3,737-pound coupe. It’s 22 miles per gallon in the city and 32 on highways. Helping fuel economy is an efficient eight-speed automatic transmission with responsive paddle shifters.

The RC also comes with a 255 horsepower V-6 and a 3.5-liter V-6 with 306 horsepower. All-wheel-drive versions get a six-speed automatic. The AWD system retains a rear-wheel bias in most driving to give a rear-drive feel and agility.

Lexus doesn’t mention the fire-breathing RC F with its 467 horsepower V-8 in its media material, saying there are only “a trio” of engine choices.  All that V-8 power in this car is a bit much, anyway.

Lexus RC 350 F Sport

Long, heavy doors can make entry and exit difficult in tight spots, and a low floor causes some extra effort to get in and out. The super-quiet interior is posh, with high-quality materials that fit right. There’s even genuine wood trim and a classic looking analog clock in the center of the instrument panel.

The power front seats are supportive, controls can be easily used and digital gauges can be quickly read. A starter button brings the engine to life, and a  multi-information display includes audio, phone and trip information. There’s also a backup camera. The racy roof design partly blocks rear vision, but outside mirrors are large.

My test car was quick in town and during fast freeway driving. The electric power steering initially felt a little heavy, but soon felt well-suited to the car. The ride was supple, almost smooth. After all, this is a Lexus. Handling was good, partly because the RC has an ultra-stiff platform. The brake pedal felt  a little soft, but had a progressive action.

Lexus RC 200t F Sport

My test car’s responsiveness was helped by its $4,105 F Sport package, which contained such items as  larger wheels. It tightened things up a little, but not uncomfortably so.

Options included a $2,610 navigation system and premium audio system with 17 speakers.  A dynamic radar cruise control with pre-collision system cost $500, and a sunroof was an extra $1,100.

Lexus emphasizes that the RC is a true sports coupe “for all seasons,” not a two-door derivative of a sedan. I suspect most potential buyers of the car would agree.

Check out this related TFLcar video of the 2015 Lexus RC F mashed up with the RC 350: