In an attempt to bring a bit more efficiency to the sleek formula of the Lexus RC Coupe, the brand goes downstream with a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine to form the new RC 200t.
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The Lexus RC is already a stunning vehicle with the substantial luxury to back up its bold design. Appearing to be a completion of the full line of what the RC offers, Lexus has upped the level of efficiency in the RC by using the brand’s new 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged engine with 241 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 258 ft-lbs. of torque at 1,650 rpm. The use of the new turbocharged engine makes sense in a perfect world. Though, my full week with the RC 200t just shows how imperfect things get when you put a curb weight of 3,737 pounds against a powertrain that has only 241 ponies and 258 ft-lbs. of torque to send to the rear wheels. Which, by the way, is only an 11-pound savings over the admirably-performing V6-powered RC 350.
Lexus’ aim to seek perfection goes a long way from the visual and interior appointments of the new RC coupe. The RC 200t with its new turbo engine retains all of what the V6-powered RC 350 offers inside and out with the exception of its powertrain. With that, the RC 200t with the F-Sport package on my test vehicle has an enjoyable cabin that fits the mold of sports cars with many creature comforts, quality materials, and impeccable fit and finish. Even more so, the exterior of the RC 200t F-Sport has a sporty flare that bubbles out in a crowd to scream performance. Unfortunately, the looks don’t quite match its real-world performance, or at least what is expected out of the RC F-Sport’s enthusiastic appeal.
Driving the new Lexus RC 200t in a tranced state 20 mph below all posted speed limits is enjoyable. I would even go as far as to say the RC 200t has a plush and supple ride quality in the Eco, Normal and Sport drive modes where the adaptive dampers of my loaded-up F-Sport test vehicle were in a relaxed state. The ride is nearly reminiscent of the RC’s front-wheel-drive sibling, the ES 350 – a soft vehicle through and through without many sporting bones in its chassis. Though selecting Sport+ mode, the dampers firmed up and the smooth shifting 8-speed automatic transmission took on a new life to get the best of what the ridged chassis of the RC 200t has to offer.
At the basis of what the RC 200t delivers, it fails to live up to its sporty looks, 19-inch wheels, and chassis’ true potential that is put to its proper test in the top-trimmed and performance oriented RC F. For the purpose of what the RC 200t sets out to accomplish, it pits an EPA estimated 22 mpg city, 32 mpg highway, and 26 mpg combined figure. Those numbers, while they appear to be the defining act of the RC 200t, only tell part of an attempt to complete an economical formula. With that, the RC 200t is more along the lines of a vehicle that you must push harder than you would like to keep pace. In doing so, my fuel consumption figures didn’t match that of those of the EPA estimates. I saw just over 30 mpg on the highway, and around town it was 21.6 mpg, almost hitting the 22 mpg estimate. The engine provides a decent mid-range power output that can be agreeable for most who don’t care much for the enthusiasm expected in true luxury sports coupes.
From a dead start, the RC 200t’s engine saps all of the visual charms that you get out of its sporty interior and exterior with an abundance of turbo lag followed up with overall lackluster acceleration. Getting the RC 200t up to 60 mph took 7.4 seconds, which is a direct result of its portly body. I won’t say that the turbocharged engine isn’t great in itself with the ability to operate on both Otto and Atkinson cycles for the best fuel efficiency. It’s the fact that the collective of the RC 200t’s parts just don’t mesh well together. It’s like having a supermodel girlfriend with no toes on her feet –people hardly notice her shortcoming until it’s time to dance. If the RC 200t weren’t a luxury sports coupe, there wouldn’t be many bones to pick on its uninspiring forward-moving performance.
All is not doom and gloom with the new Lexus RC 200t. There are a plethora of attributes of the RC 200t that somewhat make up for its performance blunder. Not to mention, the starting price of $40K is a decent perspective for a luxury sports coupe. At its base level, the Lexus RC 200t is the perfect offering for those looking to get step up to a 4-seater luxury-appointed sports coupe. On the flip side, my loaded up RC 200t F-Sport test vehicle is a hard pill the swallow at an as-tested price of $50,757 including a $950 destination charge. I suppose in the price’s defense, there are a lot of add-ons that push the price to $50k, such as the F-Sport package, Navigation System w/ Mark Levinson Premium Audio system, Parking Assist, Premium paint, Power sliding Moonroof, Black Brake Calipers, and a Limited Slip Differential that I can’t see the benefits due to the meager power output of the engine.
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