- Published: Thursday, 04 May 2017 01:46
Switching to a smaller engine has helped to knock $81,000 off the price of Lexus’ slinky coupe, but does the RC 200t deliver what a luxury coupe ought to?
SINGAPORE — When does a quarter of a million dollars look like a bargain price for a Japanese coupe? When it used to cost a third of a million.
Those are the numbers involved for the Lexus RC, now that a lower-cost model has joined local price lists. The new RC Turbo (which is what everyone will call it even though the badge on the boot reads “RC 200t”) replaces the more expensive RC 350, and its arrival means that taking Lexus’ eye-catching coupe home with you is now a whopping $81,000 cheaper.
Nothing is free in life, of course, and the cheaper model does without a number of fancy pants items. Chief among them is the smooth, creamy 3.5-litre V6 engine of the RC 350. In its place is a 2.0 litre turbo whose four pistons sing noticeably less harmoniously.
And for something its maker calls a luxury car, the RC Turbo has some surprising omissions. Satellite navigation is absent in the infotainment system, which is now controlled by a simple rotary dial.
The front seats adjust electrically, but don’t come with memory settings (maybe you’re not meant to share your RC Turbo). And the front seat belt is held in place by simple straps — some German models have a robot arm that extends forward to hand the belt to you.
But the RC Turbo does still have a Lexus badge on its grille, so it does have a few characteristics to live up to. For one thing, the cabin feels like something hewn from solid granite. Close the door and you might as well have sealed yourself inside a mausoleum, one that you just happened to decorate with supportive seats, powerful air-conditioning and an ace sound system.
While the outside world becomes mostly inaudible once you’re in the RC, that doesn’t mean it becomes invisible, too. In fact, it’s surprisingly easy to see out of the car, even though it sits near to the ground and the roof is sportily low. Nor does the cabin feel claustrophobic, at least up front, where there’s room for adults to feel comfy. Rear seat occupants, in contrast, won’t feel kindly about the thought of a long drive unless they happen to be of slight build.
The best seat is the one with the wheel anyway, because the easy handling and lively performance encourage you to tackle an empty road with aplomb. The V6 model may have been more powerful, but it also had a laid-back character that would lull you into cruising. This one is more of a bruiser.
Still, when you’re taking it easy the RC Turbo reverts to full Lexus mode. It wafts along with traffic in a way that has you feeling like a cat being scratched behind the ears. That’s nothing you couldn’t get from a Mercedes coupe, of course, but the RC Turbo does have rarity going for it, and the public seem to find its look pretty arresting.
That much was true of the RC 350, of course, and driving that around made me feel as if I had Zoe Tay strapped to the bonnet, too.
If that’s something you want from a coupe, the RC Turbo ought to sit high on your list of candidates. It’s good to know you can get just as much attention spending a quarter of a million bucks as you can from a third of a million.
NEED TO KNOW Lexus RC 200t
Engine 1,998cc, 16V, inline four, turbocharged
Power 241bhp at 5800rpm
Torque 350Nm at 1650-4400rpm
Gearbox 8-speed automatic
Top Speed 230km/h
0-100km/h 7.5 seconds
Fuel efficiency 7.3L/100km
Price $248,000 with COE
Same engine, different body, slightly lower price tag... You know you're interested in the IS 200t