Extra kilos blunt sporty aspirations.
IMAGINE having a sexy performance coupe that impresses your friends, but having to drive it around with three of them in the car. All the time.
That’s what the Lexus RC200t feels like, because it’s some 230kg heavier than the rival BMW 430i that also has a 2.0-litre turbo four and develops a similar 185kW and 350Nm. That’s a lot of extra weight to cart around, and it feels it. Even the equivalent Audi A5 has a 150kg advantage, and it has the added complication of all-wheel drive.
On the plus side, all that extra weight makes the RC feel really solid, as if the car has been machined from a billet of steel. Maybe it has. It certainly doesn’t feel like a glorified Toyota, no matter what the knockers say. Lexus has always prided itself on build quality and clearly doesn’t mind beefing up to achieve that aim.
Those extra kilos make the car sit well on the road, and it rides nicely around town. If you’re not in a hurry and unconcerned about winning the Traffic Light Grand Prix, it’s a comfortable and solid drive.
Against the stopwatch and zipping around the suburbs, though, there’s no escaping that burden. Sprinting from 0-100km/h, the RC200t is an astonishing 1.7sec slower than the BMW 430i (7.5sec versus 5.8sec) despite being virtually line-ball in terms of outputs and ratios. Then the brakes have to work hard to bring it to rest again. It’s all down to those three porky virtual mates it has to haul around all the time.
Opting for the same package in the four-door IS200t saves about 45kg, which slashes half a second from the sprint time, as well as $7500 from the price. The sedan brings the convenience of smaller doors (with proper window frames so there’s no door-shut rattle that comes with the coupe electrically snapping tight the side glass), better rear-seat access and improved vision, though with a slightly less rorty exhaust, higher seating and less jetfighter-like cockpit. And, of course, less presence. The coupe really does catch the eye.
If Lexus could somehow remove two hundred kilos, then recalibrate the throttle for a much sharper response, the company may just have the sports coupe the RC clearly aspires to be.
Seatbelt holder a simple joy
A nice touch is the design of the seatbelt holders located on each front seat. An annoyance with coupes for generations was having to stretch back to reach the belt, but this solution is both simple and practical. It’s just a leather strap, sewn in at the top and located at the bottom by strong magnets, so it holds the belt close to hand yet is easily moved out of the way when you need to flip the seat to access the rear seat. Not as flashy as Mercedes’ automatic stretching arm, but just as effective.
Read part four of our 2016 Lexus RC200t long-term car review.
Lexus RC200t F-Sport
Price as tested: $76,500
Part 5: 477km @ 11.6L/100km
Overall: 5765km @ 11.2L/100km
Date acquired: April 2016