2016 Best Drives: Sharp Dressed Ride Lexus RC Coupe


Bob Long
AutoWorld Radio
   


Recently I have the opportunity to sample two impressive models from the Lexus RC portfolio. Both the RC 200t with the F sport package and the RC 350 with rear wheels drive. With the exception of the limited edition mega dollar super car the LFA, the Lexus brand has never offered such dramatically styled and beautiful vehicles as the 2016 RC series. It is worthy of one of the top drives of 2016 awards.



Now in its second year, the luxury sports coupe gets two new engines, broadening its appeal as an alternative to to folks shopping for a BMW 4 Series a Cadillac ATS or the A5 from Audi. Unlike previous Lexus coupes like the SC 400 from the 1990s, along with awkward styled SC 430 convertible. the 2016 Lexus RC emphasizes performance over comfortable grand touring.

It’s one of the most expressively styled Lexus cars to come along in decades, filling a gap in the Lexus lineup to entice younger, well-heeled buyers who are seeking a 4-passenger premium sports coupe. While there’s a Lexus RC available in rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (RWD, AWD) for just about anybody, the truly power-hungry will want the V8-powered monster known as the RC F.

It used to be that to get Lexus levels of reliability you had to sacrifice personality. One look at the 2016 RC tells you those days are long gone, and this aggressively styled luxury-sports coupe has the goods and the attitude discerning buyers demand, all starting in the mid-$40,000s.

The 2016 RC is definitely snug, but it’s comfortable, at least up front. There are four seatbelts, but in reality the rear seat is way too small for most adults, but is fine for small kids or an occasional adult passenger. Up front is a much different story. The seats are comfortable in all trims and feature extra bolstering in RC Sport and RC F models. With the 7-inch display, rounded dashboard and angled audio/climate control interface, the dash is busy but a wonderful place like the rest of interior to spend time..

While it’s great that Lexus is pushing its styling envelope, not everyone loves the new direction. In fact, it’s a little hard to believe this wild-looking luxury coupe is a Lexus at all, which may be the point. For the most part I think it works great here. The angles and muscular bulges are eye-catching at the very least, and give this coupe a distinctive look compared to its European and American competitors, Everywhere I drove around the Orlando Fl area I got nothing but positive feedback from people from all age and demographic groups.. From the Lexus “spindle” grille to the fins on the sides paying tribute to LFA super car, and other details, there’s nothing else like it on the road especially at this price range.

The 2016 RC comes as nicely equipped as you’d expect of a luxury-sports coupe. There are standard automatic climate control, a self-dimming rearview mirror, and an infotainment system with a 7-inch display screen, rearview camera, and Lexus Enform Service Connect service. The 10-speaker audio system includes HD Radio, dual USB inputs and Bluetooth streaming with Eyes Free iPhone integration. My test drive the four cylinder 200t RC was equipped with the optional F sport package which gets get standard variable suspension and Sport+ driving mode plus heated and ventilated front seats, a suspension tuned for higher performance, and a power-adjust steering wheel.

The options list starts with a navigation system that uses a touch-pad controller and includes an upgraded Enform suite with services such as Yelp, Pandora and stock prices. There are also heated/ventilated front seats, a leather interior, heated steering wheel and a moonroof. The Mark Levinson premium audio system makes even your iPod or bluetooth streaming digital device sound quite good.Advanced safety features include blind-spot monitoring and a pre-collision system that can automatically brake the car.

For one week I was treated with the 200t RC with the great F Sport package. Thos vehicle is propelled by a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with 241 horsepower along 258 lb-ft of torque. It delivers 22 mpg city and 32 mpg highway. The F sport package gives you access to the Sport + driving mode along with great deal of suspension tuning making the entry-level RC is a hoot to drive. Without the V6 engine under hood the weight savings add a playful feeling that was absent in the RC 350 model that I also drove for a week.

My other Lexus test drive for a week was the RC 350 with Rear wheel drive with a bit more power, but not much. With two different incarnations of the 3.6 liter V-6 lineup my test vehicle put out 255 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque. So it loses some torque bt gains a ew ponies over the turbo for an EPA city/highway fuel economy of: 19/26 mpg

Like the ZZ Top song “Sharp Dressed Man: written and performed by good friend Billy F Gibbons the RC series is a sharp dressed ride and one of best of 2016.

You can’t go wrong with any model in the lineup. I hope one of the days I get to sample the V-8 powered RC F.

The Long Drive Rankings The RC 350 and RC 200T
Front Engine-RWD 8 speed automatic
Highlights
Styling
Performance
Stereo System
Navigation
Lowlights
Snug interior for some

The Long Drive Rankings 1 Low 10 High
Exterior Styling 9
Interior styling and quality 9

Handling 9
Braking 7
Fuel Economy 6
Stereo System 9
Performance 8
Trunk-Cargo Capacity 7
Navigation 9
Audio System 9




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