Review: Lexus RC (2014)
Dramatic looking coupe. RC F came first with vocal V8 engine and 477PS. Comfortable ride with a usable boot. RC300h is very smooth and refined.
Some dated features like foot-operated parking brake. Indecisive automatic gearbox on RC F.
Recently Added To This Review
The Lexus RC F has been updated for 2019 while a new focused Track Edition has been launched. The 5.0-litre naturally-aspirated V8 petrol engine now produces 449PS along with maximum torque of 520Nm,... Read more
Enhancements have been made to the RC’s aerodynamics, tyres and suspension, and there are also improvements to engine response and steering feel, all of which reflect the “sharper and more... Read more
The F Sport spindle grille, with graduated “L” motif mesh pattern, has a new dark chrome finish, as do the new-design, circular LED fog lights, positioned on the margins of the lower grille... Read more
Lexus RC (2014): At A Glance
- New prices start from £37,145
- Contract hire deals from £405.59 per month
- Insurance Groups are between 34–50
- On average it achieves 76% of the official MPG figure
When it comes to offering a premium coupe, Lexus has taken it's own path with the RC. Its striking looks, big grille and angular lines mean it never fails to stand out, even in more subdued colours.
It's also not taken the same path as the competition when it comes to power. Lexus of course, doesn't do diesel, so instead the RC comes with a petrol engine or a hybrid system. There is also a high performance model in the shape of the 5.0-litre V8 powered RC F.
So while on the surface this could be seen as a competitor to the BMW 4 Series and Mercedes E-Class Coupe, it takes a somewhat different path, prioritising comfort and refinement. Go for the 300h - and it's the model we'd recommend - and you get smooth performance from a relaxed and sophisticated coupe.
That's not to say the RC isn't capable in corners. In fact it's very assured thanks to decent grip and impressive body control, but the artificial feeling steering means this isn't a car you'll want to throw into corners. Instead it's far happier cruising along.
It's also a very sophisticated car with plenty of onboard technology and an unusual multimedia system that's controlled by what Lexus calls the Remote Touch, it's basically like a touchpad on a laptop. The quality of the interior finish is excellent but there are some disappointing features.
For all the RC's modern technology, it comes with a dated foot-operated parking brake while some of the switches and buttons feel old-hat. There's nothing wrong with the driving position though and the seats are incredibly comfortable with good lumbar support.
While the interior is best described as 'snug', it's nonetheless spacious enough for two adult passengers, with a decent sized boot and a firm but agreeable ride. The RC F is described by Lexus as a "2+2", which means the small rear seats are only intended for occasional use - and indeed with anyone of a reasonable height in the front, rear legroom all but disappears.
Being a Lexus, standard equipment is high, with all models getting cruise control, leather electric and heated front seats, a seven-inch display. However, you will have to pay extra for navigation.
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Lexus RC (2014): What's It Like Inside?
- Boot space is 366 litres
Lexus describes the RC as a "2+2", which basically means you get two large seats in the front and two small ones in the back. As a result, the back of the RC will never be a comfortable or pleasant place for four adults to spend time, although small children will find the rear seats to be a perfect fit.
Rear seating aside, the interior is impressive, with deep and comfortable sports seats in the front and an abundance of high quality and soft touch materials. All of the leather stitching has a high attention to detail and there's a reassuringly expensive feel to all of the switchgear. What's more, being a Lexus, the cabin feels like it has been screwed together with a sense of longevity.
It could be argued that the dashboard is a little button heavy, but it never feels cluttered or confusing. Indeed, it has a simple layout, with clear controls for the infotainment system and air conditioning. The seven-inch multimedia screen is also easy to read, although the collating touch pad is overly sensitive, which means the screen pointer jumps around the screen. This makes it somewhat frustrating to use when on the move.
Thankfully, there are individual buttons for the majority of the in-car controls and this means you can avoid the touch pad for most of the time. The instrumentation includes a large, centrally mounted tachometer that changes according to the driving mode with digital and analogue speed read-outs.
While the RC is equipped with lots of modern technology there are some old fashioned features, most notably a foot operated parking brake which feels at odds with the rest of the interior.
Luxury grade is exclusive to the full hybrid RC 300h and includes 18-inch alloys, cruise control, folding/heated door mirrors, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, LED headlamps and daytime running lights, parking sensors, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, a six-speaker audio system with CD player, DAB, Bluetooth and two USB ports, seven-inch multimedia screen with rotary Remote Touch controller, power-adjustable heated front seats with driver’s side memory setting, smooth leather upholstery, split-folding rear seat, electric steering column adjustment and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. The safety and driver assistance features include Lexus’s Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management, eight airbags, Pop-up Hood and Hill Assist Control with Brake Hold. The RC also has Lexus’s Drive Mode Select, which adjusts performance to suit conditions or driver preference, with Eco, Normal and Sport modes.
F Sport has a stronger iteration of the Lexus spindle grille, plus multi-spoke 19-inch alloy wheels, deep front and rear bumpers and LED headlights in a signature “triple L” arrangement (with Automatic High Beam function). In the cabin there are F Sport front seats, aluminium scuff plates and sports pedals. It also gets Adaptive Variable Suspension and, on the 200t F Sport with a Torsen limited-slip differential. The Drive Mode Select system adds a fourth, Sport S+ mode which introduces additional chassis control for an even sportier drive. Other key equipment features include a rear-view camera and Lane Departure Alert.
Premier is at the top of the RC range and adds standard features of Luxury with the addition of 19-inch alloys, Lexus Premium Navigation, 17-speaker Mark Levinson surround audio system, “triple-L” LED headlights with Automatic High Beam function, Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Alert and a rear-view camera.
RC F models get 19-inch forged aluminium wheels, cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, keyless entry and start, frameless auto-dimming rear-view mirror, dual-zone climate control with auto recirculation, high-back sports front seats, semi-aniline leather upholstery, 10-speaker Pioneer sound system with CD and DVD player, DAB tuner, Bluetooth, LED headlights with automatic high beam, tyre repair kit.
RC F Carbon adds torque vectoring differential, Alcantara upholstery, 17-speaker Mark Levinson premium hifi, CFRP carbon roof, bonnet and rear spoiler.
Child seats that fit a Lexus RC (2014)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Lexus RC (2014) like to drive?
Aside from the high performance RC F, the RC comes in two version - the 200t or the 300h. As the name suggests, the 200t is powered by a 2.0-litre turbo engine that Lexus introduced in 2015 and is also available in the NX and IS.
With 245PS it's not short of power but despite having 350Nm of torque it lacks mid-range power and doesn't sound particularly good. Plus it's far from economical with a claimed 38.7mpg. We'd suggest going for the hybrid instead.
The 300h makes far more sense and is better suited to the more relaxed nature of the RC Coupe. When it comes to hybrids, no one has as much experience as Lexus (and Toyota) and the system in the RC is a well proven one. It uses a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine along with an electric motor that powers the car through a CVT gearbox.
If you're expecting turbo diesel like performance then you'll be disappointed - the RC Coupe is a very different car to a BMW 430d. It may not have that in-gear muscle, but what you do get is incredible refinement, smooth performance and a relaxing drive.
In normal mode, the RC 300h is fine around town and for everyday driving, but if you do want more perfomance, turning the Drive Mode Select dial to 'sport' changes the power meter to a rev counter and makes the RC 300h far more responsive, particularly when it comes to mid-range acceleration.
The CVT gearbox has its usual quirks, in that acceleration is accompanied by a continuous engine whine, but sound insulation is very good so it's not intrusive. For those used to driving a Lexus hybrid of course, this will be nothing new and you soon get used to it.
The ride quality is excellent for a coupe this size. Yes it's firm but also forgiving so the RC is always stable and smooth, even over rough surfaces. The steering has the usual slightly artificial feel that all Lexus models possess, but the RC does corner well with decent grip and very little body roll.
But the RC's forte is offering a relaxed and refined driving experience. It's much happier effortlessly cruising along than being thrown into corners.
When it comes to economy, the RC 300h returns an official 57.6mpg (in Luxury trim) and 56.5mpg in F Sport and Premier. In real world driving you won't see this - judging by the NX you're more likely to see something in the mid 30s. But low CO2 emissions mean cheap VED and affordable company car tax.
The top of the range RC F has a naturally aspirated V8 with 477PS and 530Nm of torque, which is fed to the rear-wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox. On paper the V8 will propel the RC F to 62mph in less than five seconds, before reaching its peak at an electronically limited 168mph.
While the Lexus is undeniably capable and powerful, it rarely fulfils its supercar mandate with sluggish mid-range performance. The problems start with the torque delivery, which is almost non-existent until the peak at 4800rpm; this means the throttle acts like a time delay switch, with either too little or too much power. As a result, overtaking is a frustrating and often fruitless exercise, with the RC F being too slow-witted to find its feet and make a quick manoeuvre.
The V8’s problems are made all the worse by the indecisive eight-speed anatomic gearbox, which feels like it is on an endless quest for the correct gear. The problems arise at both high and low speeds, with the RC F having an annoying tendency to lurch along as the auto box takes its time to make up its mind on which cog it wants or needs.
With four driving modes to choose from - eco, normal, sport S, sport S+ - the RC F does improve with the sportier settlings, as the throttle and gearchanges sharpen up. But even when pushed hard, with the manual paddles activated and the revs screaming along, the RC F rarely feels settled in a straight line.
It’s a pity, because the RC F actually handles rather well for a car that weighs 1765kg. Indeed, the firm set up and responsive steering make it an accomplished car to attack corners with, especially with the fitment of the optional torque vectoring differential.
The RC F is also a decent cruiser, with excellent sound and heat proofing, which prevents the V8 from cooking up the cabin or deafening the driver. Ride comfort is comfortable too, with an agreeable ride that rarely feels harsh.
|200t||39 mpg||7.5–7.8 s||168 g/km|
|300h||57–58 mpg||8.6 s||113–116 g/km|
|5.0 F||25–26 mpg||4.5 s||251–258 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Lexus RC (2014)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
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