Despite gliding into the luxury segment nearly three decades ago, Lexus only unveiled its first fixed roof coupe a couple of years back.
There have been Lexus convertibles before but the marque’s first bona fide two-door coupe was the RC – a model based on the IS platform but with more sensuous bodywork incorporating a long bonnet and muscular rear haunches.
Like the IS, the RC also has a classic front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout. It debuted with two big naturally aspirated petrol engines – a 5.0-litre V8 and 3.5-litre V6. The former is a blast for its beefy torque delivered in wonderfully linear fashion. But the latter, being smaller, is better suited for the role of a luxuriously comfortable grand tourer.
It is this variant that has been replaced by a new RC with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine, and it is an interesting proposition.
Called the Lexus RC Turbo Sport, the unit is mated to the same smooth eight-speed automatic transmission.
The much lower displacement results in lower maximum power and torque but the latter is available much earlier – at 1,650 rpm instead of 4,800 rpm. It also has two cylinders fewer, making it less nose-heavy.
So even if the four-cylinder RC at about 1,700 kg is only slightly lighter than the RC350 with a V6, its more enthusiastic power plant, well-weighted steering and relatively nimble handling combine to make it a sweeter drive.
When moving off from stationary, the RC Turbo feels lighter off its feet, and when going into a fast corner, the body control is just as good.
The zero to 100 kmh acceleration time backs this up. It shows that the RC coupe has not suffered much from the downsized engine because at 7.5 seconds, it is only half a second slower than the RC350.
More importantly, the RC Turbo Sport costs over S$60,000 less than the previous RC350.
(RELATED: We test drive the Lexus RC F)
Helping the more accessible pricing are the headlamps with a simpler LED cluster, smaller 18-inch alloy wheels (from 19 inches), the absence of GPS navigation, and a Lexus Display Audio that is operated by a rotary knob instead of a touchpad.
Like all entry-level Lexus models, the RC Turbo gets a three-mode Drive Mode Select system with Eco, Normal and Sport settings.
But entry-level or not, the RC Turbo Sport’s credible performance and good-sized four-seat cabin make it a pretty and practical coupe.
Adapted from The Business Times. Photos courtesy of Lexus.