FLAIR AND BALANCED
The turbocharged Lexus RC 200t
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Wed, Aug 10, 2016
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By Reed “The Traffic Guy” Berry
No, the title of this review isn’t a misprint. I’m driving a car that is certainly stylish and original while, at the same time, maintains a perfect balance between fairly impressive performance and very respectable fuel economy. Sleek, sporty and fun to drive, the Lexus RC 200t has put a smile on my face on a weekend road trip to sunny Las Vegas.
It wasn’t even a delayed smile. The effect was immediate as I arrived to pick up the car and continues as I drive. This car looks amazing. Unlike some cars that look good only from a certain angle, this car doesn’t have a bad side. The chiseled body design flows smoothly from front to back with a bold yet aerodynamic shape. The dual chrome exhaust adds to the sporty appearance.
The RC 200t maintains a low profile without being too low. By that I mean entering the car does not require contorting your body or doing the classic Limbo dance simply to clear the low roof line of the vehicle, as is required in some low profile sport coupes. It really is the best of both worlds. I can enjoy the sporty look and feel of the car but my passengers and I enter and exit the vehicle with ease.
My test vehicle is equipped with the F Sport package which, for an extra $4,105, makes a good looking car look even better with the distinctive F Sport front bumper and spindle grille, as well as chrome trim and big, sporty 19-inch 10-spoke wheels. The package also includes such features as heated and ventilated seats, aluminum pedals and a perforated leather shift knob and steering wheel, just to name a few.
The interior is very comfortable and certainly driver-friendly. This car fits me like a glove. No, I’m not talking the too-tight glove O.J. Simpson couldn’t seem to squeeze into during his famous court trial, but rather that “just right” fit that some cars seem to provide. Most controls are within easy reach and, should I feel the need to enhance my driving experience by shifting manually, there are steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.
The interior has a nice looking blend of stitched surfaces and faux carbon fiber. The dash has a crisp, sporty appearance and, to add a touch of class (or simply to teach younger passengers how people used to tell time “back in the day”), there’s an analog clock. The center console is fairly spacious, however, the USB and auxiliary jacks within are positioned in a way that makes accessing them a bit awkward. I noticed this right away, as did my front seat passenger.
One feature I really find rather fun and innovative is the way in which you adjust the interior temperature. There are two thin vertical bars, one on either side of the center console, with which the driver and passenger can raise or lower the temperature by simply running their finger up or down the bar. No buttons to push or knobs to turn – a simple touch of the finger takes you to your comfort zone. And that’s not all you’ll be touching. The infotainment system is operated by a console-mounted touchpad similar to that found on laptop computers.
The touchpad is part of the navigation and audio package (+$2,610) that also includes an 835-watt Mark Levinson premium audio system with 17 speakers, surround sound and voice command. The sound system sounds great and, while I’m not a fan of HD radio, this one sounds fairly decent. The Bluetooth audio streaming and hands-free phoning is convenient and, while I don’t consider it all that necessary while driving, the album cover art that appears while listening to music is kind of cool.
As I make my way up Interstate 15 toward Vegas, I am pleasantly surprised. Acceleration is hesitation-free and the eight-speed automatic transmission seems efficient and precise. Under the hood is a turbocharged 2.0-liter in-line four cylinder engine providing 241 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Not the most powerful vehicle on the road and certainly not the most aggressive in the Lexus RC line, but this car seems to provide ample power for my road trip to Sin City.
Another feature that adds to my driving enjoyment is the drive mode selector. The practical side of me wants to drive a bit more conservatively in Eco mode in order to maximize my fuel economy but, honestly, I’m not driving a turbo sport coupe to pinch pennies on petrol. I’m driving in Sport mode today, which stiffens the car a bit for a sportier feel. There is also Normal mode for everyday driving and, while I won’t be requiring it for a drive from L.A. to Vegas, there is also a Snow mode.
I am also putting the car’s handling to the test on a variety of road surfaces, which is really just a cool journalistic way to say I’ll be getting off the freeway for food and to use the restroom from time to time. Seriously, however, the car does handle well. From the reasonably smooth streets of Barstow and Baker on the California side to the not-so-smooth roads of the tiny early 1900s mining town of Goodsprings, Nevada, the RC 200t can handle it all. The speed-sensing rack and pinion steering combined with a very efficient suspension system (double-wishbone front and multi-link rear) gives this car a very confident personality.
Needless to say, this car is getting the looks. I’ve already been asked by a number of people what model it is, what year it is, how I like it – and a valet parking attendant at The Platinum Hotel in Vegas has mentioned that he’d like to buy one himself. I think he was impressed not only by the striking appearance of the car, but also the spacious 10.4 cubic-foot trunk. The car is sporty enough to be really fun but practical enough to be one’s daily driver.
I don’t blame him. I wouldn’t mind owning one myself but, realistically, anyone interested in buying an RC should compare the others in the line based on price, features and power. The RC 200t, the entry level model in the RC line, has a base price of $39,995 but, when equipped like my test vehicle with all the optional bells and whistles (including a power moonroof and premium paint color), the car comes in at nearly $50,000. And, as mentioned previously, while the RC 200t is a spirited little turbo four-cylinder, the other RC models have larger engines and a bit more power under the hood.
As someone who has had the opportunity to road test the other RC models at a previous press event in New Orleans, I can tell you that each has its own attributes and personality. There are seven different models in the RC line. The RC 200t, RC 300 and RC 350 plus an F Sport version of each, as well as the top of the line, the powerful 5.0-liter 467-horsepower RC F. The RC F starts at nearly $63,000 but, for anyone that requires maximum power and a driving experience that is beyond exhilarating, it will probably be more to your liking than the RC 200t.
Overall, the RC 200t has the sporty appearance, performance, agility and features to make it a worthy contender in its class. And, with mileage estimates ranging from 22 city to 32 highway (providing you don’t routinely push this little turbo four to its limit, thereby compromising these numbers a bit), this fun little sport coupe certainly won’t break the bank.
For more information on Lexus products, go to lexus.com.
SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2016 Lexus RC 200t Price: $39,995 (base) $49,775 (as tested) EPA fuel economy estimates (city/highway/combined): 22 / 32 / 26 miles per gallon Engine type: 2.0-liter DOHC 16-valve Inline 4-cylinder, turbocharged with intercooler Horsepower: 241 HP @ 5800 Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 1,650–4,400 Transmission type: Eight-speed Sport Direct-Shift automatic transmission with paddle shifters Steering: Electronic Power Steering (EPS), vehicle speed-sensing rack and pinion Suspension: Front: Independent, double-wishbone with coil springs Rear: Independent multilink with coil springs Brakes: Front: Two-piston calipers with 11.7-in ventilated discs Rear: 11.4-in ventilated discs Wheels: 18-in. split five-spoke alloy wheels Dimensions Overall length: 184.8 inches Overall width (excluding mirrors): 72.4 inches Overall height: 54.9 inches Curb weight: 3,737 pounds