WHEN you hear the name Lexus, you wouldn’t necessarily think of a sporty coupe.

But the RC, with its striking looks, is doing its best to change that.

In terms of its appearance, it’s a stunning-looking machine that takes Lexus into new territory and is likely to appeal to a younger audience.

This upmarket two-door sports coupe has slick styling, including the strongest interpretation yet of the trademark Lexus spindle grille.

It also benefits from impressive refinement levels.

A choice of two powertrains is available, namely a full hybrid with a 2.5-litre petrol engine in the RC 300h, tested here, and a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol unit in the RC 200t.

The Lexus Hybrid Drive system in the RC 300h combines a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine with a powerful electric motor that together produce 220bhp.

With its electrical assistance, the car is smooth and quiet, especially around town. However, it’s not the most engaging car to drive once you’re out on the open road when compared to some of its rivals.

The car is somewhat hesitant from a standstill, while the significant kerbweight of the hybrid doesn’t help the driving dynamics.

On the plus side, the gearless’ CVT set-up in the 300h provides acceleration that’s consistent and reasonably responsive, although the 0-62mph time of 8.6 seconds doesn’t feel especially quick.

However, perhaps it’s a decent trade off between pace and economy, especially when you consider the official average fuel consumption figure of 57.6mpg and CO2 emissions from 113g/km.

As is the case with any vehicle, my fuel economy fell some way short of the quoted figure, but I achieved a still-good 40mpg on my commute to and from Bradford on mixed roads, no doubt helped by the electric motor in Manchester Road’s stop-start traffic.

In fact, the RC’s impressive fully electric EV driving mode produces ultra-quiet running with zero exhaust emissions and fuel consumption.

Once inside, there’s no doubt that the cabin exudes an air of luxury, sophistication and comfort.

The dashboard is nicely-crafted and beautiful in its simplicity, while the smooth leather upholstery adds extra elegance.

In many respects, the interior is typical Lexus, as everything is solidly built and good-looking.

It’s worth noting that there’s also plenty of standard kit on offer.

In this week’s sub-zero temperatures, the heated sports seats were a blessing, as was the ability to select ‘snow’ mode, which calms down the car’s sharper traits to minimise wheel spin.

In terms of room, there’s plenty of space for the driver and passenger up front, but you may struggle to get a rear seat passenger into the vehicle at all if they’re expected to sit behind a 6ft-plus driver.

That said, many coupes are equally hopeless when it comes to back seat space because, frankly, you don’t buy one as a family car.

Meanwhile, the car’s infotainment system is very impressive. The Lexus Premium Navigation set-up is operated via a seven-inch colour display.

Among the highlights are 10-speaker audio with DAB and a DVD player, Bluetooth, and a smartphone linking function.

In conclusion, the RC is more aesthetically pleasing than its German opponents, has a more luxurious interior than many rivals and offers great economy.

If you’re after out-and-out driving thrills, this might not be the car for you. That’s not to say the RC doesn’t have enough shove to get a move-on when the circumstances dictate, but I found its smoothness and ride quality to be more suited to a relaxed driving style.

When choosing between the two engine options, the hybrid is probably the more sensible choice because it costs much less to run than the petrol 200t.


Lexus RC 300h Premier

PRICE: £42,645 on the road

ENGINE: 2.5-litre 4-cylinder in-line 16-valve DOHC with dual VVT-ii

PERFORMANCE: 118mph top speed, and 0-62mph in 8.6 seconds

TRANSMISSION: Electric CVT, rear-wheel drive

ECONOMY: 57.6mph combined, and emissions of 113g/km