Coupe Special 1 - Lexus RC 200t

BY Azfar Hashim

Underneath that sexy exterior, what else could the RC 200t offer?

Photos by Azfar Hashim

So the story’s out. Lexus has quietly phased out the RC 350 in the local line-up. Hence if you want a sexy coupe from Lexus now, you only have two flavours to choose from: A mind-bogglingly vocal 5.0-litre V8 RC F or this subtle, turbocharged 2.0-litre RC 200t. Two very different models at extreme ends of the spectrum, with nothing in between.

Moving along. The RC 200t, without any degree of doubt, is a treat to the eye all thanks to that heavily sculpted body shell. Flanked by protruding shoulder lines with flared wheel arches on all four corners, and a distinctive face all thanks to that large grill made the car look hunky especially when you see it appear in your rear-view mirror.

And in this hue of red, we can’t blame you if you mistaken it for its recently launched LC 500 brother.

There’s more proof Lexus has gotten their design sorted, more so towards the rear. That radical looking tail lamps and sporty rear bumper, made even sportier thanks to the pair of rectangular tailpipes, err… I’m actually out of words. Honestly this is one rump that looks apart from the rest of its competitors - in a good way. If there is going to be a book titled, “Bumper book of lovely rear ends” for all cars since the beginning of the automotive industry, the RC 200t will be in the top 10.

Despite my unprecedented passion, there is one thing that actually damaged the sultry exterior though: Those rims. Unimaginative, so last decade, it’s appalling it got approved as OE.

That aside, cabin is typical Lexus, meaning a fuss-free layout matched to solid build quality; shut lines are well hidden, plastic are of high standard and the driving position is simply useful for drivers of any sizes. Mind you, this is something rare considering my build that errs on the bigger side; I do not need to make multiple adjustments before finding that optimum position to feel right at home.

You must love the steering wheel as well. Beautifully wrapped in cow, brilliantly sized with large-sized paddle-shifters and controls mimicking a Playstation controller, it sure does put you in command.

While the L-sized center armrest is good for storing valuables off prying eyes, it gets intrusive when you’re being playful attacking corners after corners; during my entire course with the RC200t, my left elbow kept knocking into it like magnet and that is rather annoying. Should it be placed a few centimeters lower, I’m sure this issue would not even exist…

A 2+2, the rear is surprisingly able to accommodate two average-sized adults with generous leg and headroom. The seats are also comfortably padded compared to BMW’s 4 Series; this should be good news if you regularly travel up North with companions. Boot space, by coupe standards, are adequate here: at 423-litres, it is actually eclipsed by the BMW 4 Series but nevertheless extra practicality is still offered by virtue of the 60:40 foldable backrest.

The turbocharged 4-cylinder, 2.0-litre powerplant, paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission whips out 241 bhp and 350 Nm of torque, and according to Lexus needs only 7.5 seconds to hit 100 km/h from standstill. Now if you remember this engine - which took a decade to be perfected for mass production - first saw service in the NX, followed by IS, GS, RX and now RC. In this current day and age of downsizing, it seems Lexus had followed Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz in utilizing their ‘entry-level’ engine across a range of models. Theoretically this is advantageous for a market like Singapore, where road tax can cost you an arm and a leg; a cornea even, if you look beyond the 3.5-litre mark.

And this engine seems well suited for the RC 200t’s image. Frankly, it won’t excite you much as power delivery isn’t as brutal or tenacious as you would experience in any 2.0-litre hot-hatches available in the market; as though Lexus is telling you, “We’d rather do it in a classy manner.” Or maybe also because it weighs close to 2.2-tonnes.

Still, Lexus allows you to drive the RC 200t in different modes, meaning you get to choose between ‘Eco’ to save the earth, ‘Normal’ on lazy Sundays, or ‘Sport’ when the roads are clear of both traffic (and boys in white). If you’re wondering how it handles, well, let me just say it’s safe and predictable and there is no way you could find it too much to handle be it in Normal or Sport.

How do you sum up the RC 200t? Say you want pace - but not too much of it - and still prioritize comfort along with reliability, you won’t go wrong with this car.

Oh, but those rims. Urgggh…