2016 Lexus RC200t F-Sport review: A vision in tangerine

2016 Lexus RC200t F-Sport Photo 2

Wild coupe looks the part, but can it play the part?

When is wild styling too wild? I’d venture to guess that something like the Peugeot Onyx concept would be too wild for most people to drive every day. A Honda Accord? Not as wild. Somewhere in the middle, probably more toward the Peugeot end of the spectrum, sits this mouthful of a car, the 2016 Lexus RC200t F-Sport. Personally, I think it looks slick. The shape, the vents, the grille — it’s all good, even in this shade of tangerine orange. Two people stopped me when I was taking the pictures to ask about it. Now, if I were to buy one, I wouldn’t pick this color, but I’m still glad Lexus is making it, and I really hope other people buy it.

This smaller-engined RC coupe sports a twin-scroll turbocharged four making 241 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque with an eight-speed automatic sending power to the rear wheels. The same 2.0-liter also sees duty in the latest IS sedan.

After bracing yourself to open the heavy driver’s-side door, you’ll fall into the pleasantly snug leather buckets. Lexus always comes through with good seats. Usually they’re of the comfort variety in the company’s bigger sedans and SUVs, but it can do a good, bolstered sport seat, too. So, I’m not sure if Manute Bol was in the car before me, but the seats must slide a good 20 inches back and forth. My toes couldn’t even kiss the pedals, let alone stomp them in anger. So, tall guys, this coupe will fit you. The seat belt is anchored behind that long door, too; you’ll have to use a back scratcher to get at it. It does have one of those loops on the seat shoulder to keep it closer though. If I owned the car, it would definitely be locked in there.

The gauge cluster in this RC is sweet. It’s a newer version of the one from the old LFA supercar. In sport and sport-plus modes the tach turns white and then goes red when it’s time to shift. It also leaves a shadow of the needle when you shift, in case you like to see the exact rpm when you grabbed the paddle. The red shift light needs to be a little brighter though; it’s hard to see out of the corner of your eye.

Lexus sticks with its touchpad control for the infotainment system, for better or worse. It works like a laptop and takes some getting used to. It gets a lot of heat from some journalists, but I could live with it. Elsewhere inside, everything is monochromatic, blacks and grays with some metallic bits — so it all matches. That may seem silly, but a handful of automakers have a hard time making things look coherent in the cabin. Not here. It’s a little plastic-y, and sort of futuristic-looking, but gaps and materials are generally good.

Wind noise is kept to a minimum, probably a function of this car’s slippery shape, but the tires do a little ping-ping over expansion joints. That penetrates the cabin and gets somewhat annoying, but on nicer roads I’m sure it’d be less of a problem. This car has the upgraded summer tires, as well, which are included with the $4,105 F-Sport package.

The power-steering system is electronic, but it’s one of the better setups by far. Weight is perfect, and there’s actually some road feel at the limit. The perforated, leather chunky wheel feels good in the hand and has some contour to it too, making it more comfortable to hold.

2016 Lexus RC200t F-Sport interior

This RC — Radical Coupe, in case you were wondering — has to be the stiffest Lexus model. It has adaptive dampers, another part of the F-Sport package, but the range from comfort to sport wasn’t immediately noticeable. It’s a little floatier in comfort, less so in sport. It’s stiff enough that I spent time this morning on my way in to work avoiding the potholes that I’d normally blow over in a luxury cruiser. Thankfully, the crisp steering allowed me to do that without much trouble.

Lexus didn’t skimp on the chassis, either. This coupe has double wishbones in front and a multilink rear. Changes of direction come quick with just a bit of body roll. It feels like it should handle the racetrack well, but as far as I’ve read, it needs a little more … something. Body movement is controlled, and like I said the steering feel is good. I’ll have to put it on the track myself to give a confident assessment. In our review of the more-powerful RC350, we said that, “It’s a fine car for novice track-day participants, because there isn’t a wad of excess power to encourage getting in over one’s head.”

If the 350 doesn’t have “a wad of excess power,” I’m not sure what to say about the 200t. The curb weight isn’t a small number — more than 3,700 pounds — and this boosted four has enough power to get going, but it’s far from thrilling. There’s a little lag from the turbocharger — don’t try to take off in second gear — and it really needs to hit the midrange to feel any notion of speed. It seems to run out of breath higher in the rev range, at 5,500 or so. I punched it around a gentle corner with the traction control off and I couldn’t get any wheelspin. The only way to move the tail at all is to crank the wheel and stab it from a dead stop. At speed near the limit, the front tires seem to give up first, but it did carry a surprising amount of grip. The brakes feel solid, and the pedal stroke is what I’d call medium. There are maybe 4 inches before you get a good bite.

2016 Lexus RC200t rear

The eight-speed automatic was fine for normal driving, very smooth, but during spirited maneuvers it didn’t seem to quicken up, even in sport-plus. I know this is a Lexus and it’s supposed to be easy, but it is the F-Sport and a coupe, so I think a little more immediacy would be in order. The wheel-mounted paddles are plastic but feel solid when you’re snatching them in the heat of battle

If you’re going to buy one of these, you’ll have to get used to being looked at. It stands out, even in a sea of sharp-looking two-doors, especially in this Push Pop color. The BMW 428i coupe, which might be cross-shopped with this, costs about the same and has 240 hp and 255 lb-ft, so they’re very close, spec wise. I don’t think it looks as cool as this RC, but it surely shifts faster.

If you’re going for pure performance, the Bimmer would probably set you straight; if you want something a little more rounded, but a little more wild, this ice-cold Lexus is waiting for a test drive.

— Jake Lingeman, Road Test Editor

OPTIONS: F Sport package including F Sport front bumper and spindle grille, 19-inch F Sport wheels, summer tires, blind spot monitor with rear-cross traffic alert, TFT instrument cluster, heated and ventilated front F Sport seats, perforated leather steering wheel and shift knob, black headliner, aluminum pedals, power-adjustable steering column, silver performance trim, driver memory seat, adaptive variable suspension and sport plus mode, cool air intake with sound generator ($4,105); Navigation system with premium audio, 17-Speakers, voice command, Lexus insider, remote touchpad control, Lexus Enform destinations and App Suite ($2,610)

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.