Lexus RC 300h long-termer: coupe's clever with boxes

Published: 31 March 2020

► CAR lives with a Lexus RC
► Ours is a 300h F Sport hybrid
► Regular reports from the CAR team

Month 3 living with a Lexus RC300h: stick the boot in

For an elegant 2+2 coupe, the RC can carry a lot of stuff. Back seats folded down, it can squeeze in multiple boxes of flatpack furniture plus a bargain 40-inch TV in its box.

When you open the driver's door the steering wheel moves towards the dashboard, and the driver's seat goes rearwards to make it easier to climb in – cue the chilling sounds of cardboard squashing squeakily as the seat's backrest begins to crush the TV box. I'm sure the sensors would have stopped the seat before any harm was done, but I moved faster than a Wild West dueller to the chair switches to freeze it, to avoid bringing a new meaning to the term 'flat screen'.

By James Taylor

Logbook: Lexus RC 300h F Sport

Price £42,305 (£43,725 tested)
Performance 2494cc hybrid four-cylinder, 220bhp, 8.6sec 0-62mph, 118mph
Efficiency 40.8-47.6mpg (official), 36.6mpg (tested), 114g/km CO2
Energy cost 16.1p per mile
Miles this month 1131
Total miles 4931

Month 2 living with a Lexus RC300h: a road trip to London beckons for the editor

All aboard! Does the RC's boot cope with weekend away clobber?

Lexus RC boot

Two of us, slinking off to London for a night in a hotel so far outside our budget that the cost per night sounds like a mortgage payment. First job, luggage. The RC is more than big enough for our purposes. Hooks for a suit on a coathanger above the rear seats are handy. Hopeless door bins, mind.  

Cool or crusty? The dial that changes the RC's character

Sport mode essential in Lexus RC coupe

The interior is divisive: classy, or like drowning in ’80s hi-fi. I like it, even the touch-pointer interface thing, and the easy-to-turn-off main screen is a nice touch at night. Twisting the drive mode to Sport is essential – the throttle response in anything less is torpid to the point of insanity. 

To the twisties! Some of our favourite back roads to the A1

RC's chassis is surprisingly fun

The brief run from home to the A1 South is superb, including a wicked stretch of rural B-road that rollercoasters between fields and forests like a mini-Nürburgring. As the Lexus’s regular keeper James Taylor noted last month, the RC’s chassis is much better than its hybrid powertrain. 

City slicker: Lexus RC slots into London life

Our Lexus RC in London town

Many plug-in hybrids are never plugged in, and the weight blunts performance and efficiency. The non plug-in RC doesn’t have the electric range of a plug-in, but at least the battery is never totally empty, and gliding silently into London on EV power is soothing and it takes the stress out of queuing. Leaves the line like a departing SpaceX rocket when the lights change, too. 

Getting the nod at one of London's plushest hotels

Lexus RC meets the Lanesborough Hotel in London

‘Handsome car, sir, very nice.’ Sure, it’s the doorman’s job to be charming, but the Lexus does feel right at home pulling up outside The Lanesborough. One high-pressure parallel park later (between two S-Class Mercs, naturally) and we’ve arrived, relaxed and on time. 

By Ben Miller

Logbook: Lexus RC 300h F Sport

Price £42,305 (£43,725 tested)
Performance 2494cc hybrid four-cylinder, 220bhp, 8.6sec 0-62mph, 118mph
Efficiency 40.8-47.6mpg (official), 34.4mpg (tested), 114g/km CO2
Energy cost 17.3p per mile
Miles this month 982
Total miles 3800

Month 1 of our Lexus RC long-term test: the introduction

James Taylor and the CAR magazine Lexus RC coupe

Product design theorists reckon there’s an optimum relationship between complexity and simplicity. Psychologist Daniel Berlyne reckoned that if you were to plot a graph with its x axis travelling from simple to fiddly, and its y axis for level of attractiveness, the result would be a bell curve. Too simple and people are indifferent; too complex, people are turned off. 

In recent years, Lexus has spent too much time down the complicated end, its cars’ styling a riot of competing creases, slashes and embellishments. But with the knee-weakening LC flagship coupe and this, the recently facelifted RC (less flagshippy) coupe, I reckon they’re finding the sweet spot. 

It has just the right balance of sharpness, smoothness and rear-wheel-drive muscle around the haunches. The RC first came out in 2014, and this is the gently updated version, with mild trim tweaks inside and out and new safety kit. Plus the steering column and driver’s seat now automatically motor in opposite directions to make climbing in and out easier.

Lexus RC LTT interior

This is not the 5.0-litre V8-powered RC F supercoupe but an RC 300h in F Sport spec, a trim level à la M Sport or AMG Line. For around £3500 over the regular RC, that gives it triple-stack headlights, more exciting grille and bumpers, 19-inch wheels instead of 18s, sports seats, orange calipers and adaptive dampers. There’s one trim above it, Takumi, with a few extra niceties we can live without, such as a heated steering wheel. 

It used to be possible to get the RC with an unhybridised 2.0-litre petrol engine, but now the only game in town apart from the V8 RC F is this 300h hybrid version. It pairs a 178bhp 2.5-litre petrol four with a 141bhp electric motor and battery pack (turning out a combined peak power of 220bhp when both are in optimum harmony), running through an electronically controlled CVT to the rear wheels. 

As fast as it looks? It’s early days at the moment but, erm, no. A kerbweight in excess of 1.7 tonnes means the 300h feels like it’s powered by something much smaller than a 2.5-litre engine, even with the motor to help it along (which also serves as a generator to top up the battery under deceleration). The way the powertrain works takes some getting used to as well, with a choise of drive modes that sharpen up the initially slovenly throttle response and the option to shift manually.

Lexus RC LTT wheel

We’ve six months to establish whether the Lexus’s way of doing things is different/better or just different/different. Until then, the good news is that the RC handles. Lexus has stiffened the RC’s structure as part of its updates, and this is a well-balanced, grippy car (exceptionally so in the wet – thank the Dunlops).

So it looks like an alluring coupe, but that style doesn’t carry through from the exterior to the interior – the cabin could be that of any Lexus: big steering wheel, oblong buttons, clock mid-dash. Thankfully it doesn’t have the borderline-unusable mouse system that afflicted the Lexus RX Tim Pollard ran recently, but the RC’s trackpad is still fiddly. Best take another look at that graph, boys.

By James Taylor

Logbook: Lexus RC 300h F Sport

Price £42,305 (£43,725 as tested) 
Performance 2494cc hybrid four-cylinder, 220bhp, 8.6sec 0-62mph, 118mph 
Efficiency 47.6mpg (official), 30.1mpg (tested), 114g/km CO2 
Energy cost 21.1p per mile 
Miles this month 233
Total miles 2818

By CAR's road test team

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