Lexus RC200t F-Sport 2016 new car review

The RC200t recieved little fanfare - a surprise given what an enjoyable and competent package it presents.

Robert Barry
Robert Barry
Expert reviewer | Auto Media Group

Lexus introduced its new 'entry-level' $102,900 RC200t F-Sport Coupe to the market at the beginning of the year with little fanfare, which is a surprise given what an enjoyable and competent package it presents.

Exterior , 4 out of 5 Drive , 3.5 out of 5 Safety , 5 out of 5 Value , 4 out of 5

Overall score , 4.1 out of 5

The good
  • Agile and lithe
  • Stunning coupe design
The not-so-good
  • Fuel economy
  • Exhaust note too subtle
  • Dreadful rear blind spot

In a world where every man and his dog is buying a pickup or an SUV, it's nice to have a car that says to hell with practicality, and to hell with putting passengers into the rear seat comfortably, but is instead focussed on being fun to drive and luxuriously appointed.

In the RC line-up the signature Lexus spindle grille actually works with the cars aggressive front styling, and the arrowhead LED daytime driving lights don't look out of place either.

It's not a cut-price RC F, but the RC 200t F-Sport does offer similar striking looks, with a comfortable yet sporty suspension set-up, and it wears stunning 19-inch alloy wheels covered with Bridgestone Potenza tyres which amply fill out those beautifully curved wheel arches at each corner.

The RC 200t doesn't haven't the rumbling Sumo brawn of its 5-litre V8 RC F sibling, nor the visceral warrior howl of the 3.5-litre V6 RC 350.

Instead, the RC 200t F-Sport is more of a lightweight field archer, nimble and lithe, and deft to inputs from a sensitive yet dynamic driver.

Turbocharged 2-litre engine

Just as milk and Coke Zero come in 2-litres, so too does the RC 200t F-Sport.

As I've said in reviews before, the 2-litre four-cylinder engine is no longer humble, and the new direct-injection turbocharged unit that the RC 200t shares with the Lexus NX 200t SUV and IS 200t sedan has 180kW of power with 350 Newton metres of stump-pulling torque.

Pumping all that torque through the rear wheels is the job of the limited-slip differential allied to intelligent 8-speed automatic transmission which has paddle shifters on the steering column, and the RC 200t also offers four driving modes, Eco, Normal, Sport and Sport+, to accommodate the driver's mood.

Lexus claims a fuel efficiency of 7.3L/100km, but I never got within a bull's roar of this figure, finishing the test week on a solid 13L/100km.

Perhaps I was just enjoying myself a little too much? More than likely.

Dark Rose

The jewel in the crown of the RC 200t are the extraordinarily comfortable sports bucket front seats upholstered in Dark Rose leather, which offers both three-stage heating or ventilated cooling for the occupants.

Unlike the enormous colour screen in the large LX 450d SUV, the RC 200t has a much smaller unit for its navigation and infotainment systems, combined with a touch sensitive pad that allows the driver to control most functions while on the move.

The only option in the RC 200t is a 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, which was sadly not fitted to the vehicle on test, but the standard Lexus 10-speaker audio package is more than perfectly adequate for the task, providing good tone and clarity in its sound reproduction.

The quality of the Bluetooth audio for mobile calling was excellent, and the voice activation was simple, receptive and easily used to dial up people while on the move. Some of these voice systems can be a challenge to use, especially if they don't like your enunciation.

I particularly appreciated the dulcet female tones from the navigation's traffic management system, verbally providing me instructions on the move such as "warning, red light camera ahead."

Blind spot

As part of its safety arsenal, the RC 200t comes with a reversing camera with a guide monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, tyre pressure monitoring, and a blind-spot detection system.

These are not frivolous fittings, they are all quite necessary in such a sexy looking car.

There is quite a bad blind-spot for the driver on the left-hand side of the RC 200t, especially when turning right into traffic across a right-angled intersection, where you have vehicles approaching alongside from the left.

Because of that sexily curved rear three quarter section of the body, at a certain angle, when exiting (or reversing) from certain angled car parks, and intersections, you just can't see a thing over your left shoulder, so the blind spot detector and rear cross-traffic alert do somewhat mitigate this somewhat.

Other features in the RC 200t's arsenal of active and passive safety equipment is pre-crash assistance, pre-crash brake with autonomous emergency braking, and radar active cruise control.

Daily driver

The blind spot issue is a mere radar blip on the RC 200t's ability as a daily driver because few vehicles with such striking looks offer a more comfortable interior from within to endure the daily commute.

Lexus interiors all have that high quality almost "hewn from stone" feel to them, nothing squeaks or rattles, everything is engineered to perfection, including the seamless keyless entry and start, and the way that the steering wheel lowers itself into the drivers preferred position, ready for the take off.

As mentioned earlier, the ventilated sports bucket seats are incredibly comfortable, climate air conditioning is fast and efficient, and the ride quality from such a stiffly suspended vehicle, with low profile tyres on 19-inch alloy rims, is very good too.

My only beef was the sound of the turbo engine, it wasn't loud enough to announce its intentions and almost detracted from the feeling of speed when the car was accelerating briskly.

The RC 200t F-Sport is not at all a gutless-wonder, but its lame-sounding exhaust note would suggest otherwise. It's a sports coupe Lexus, so let's celebrate it a bit more loudly in the future, please.


Aural disappointment aside, if your heart says coupe but your head says thrifty, then the RC 200t F-Sport is going to be more your cup of tea, and a lot more so than the RC 350 or RC F V8.

I would suggest a driver with a right foot that is less cloven than mine, will easily achieve single digit fuel economy of 8 to 9L/100km on the combined cycle.

While it may be the entry-level car in the Lexus RC line, it is by no means sparsely equipped, and it provides more than enough power and performance that the Japanese luxury brand is renowned for.

Price: $102,900

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