Test Drive: 2017 Lexus RC200t
Luxury sport coupes have always been a niche market. Generally not as fast a genuine two-seater sports cars, their back seats are usually too small even for children. Although the cabins tend to be a little roomier, the fastback styling necessary to justify the name reduces rear visibility as much as any sports car. But for someone who has outgrown sports cars — either physically or philosophically — but still wants something fun to drive, their are plenty available these days, including the stylish 2017 Lexus RC200t.
Surprisingly, given its wildly aggressive exterior styling, the Lexus is one of the more practical alternatives. Although the sharp lines and huge grill give it a racy look — especially when outfitted the F Sport package — the RC200t only comes with one engine and transmission combination that provides enjoyable but not spectacular acceleration. And all-wheel-drive is not an option.
But that allows Lexus to offer the base version at under $42,000, which is considerably less than many of its competitors. And the turbocharged/intercooled 2.0-liter inline 4 still produces a respectable 241 horsepower. Routed to the rear when through a smooth shifting eight-speed automatic transmission with multiple drive modes, the performance should easily satisfy the vast majority of drivers in real world conditions.
More powerful versions of the company's sports coupe come with a 3.5-liter V6 or two different 5.0-liter V8 engines, and available all-wheel-drive.
Unlike most cars where the interior design complements the exterior lines, the RC200t features a geometric dash and center console design. The sharly sloping console flows between the two front bucket seats, creating a cockpit driving environment. All of the interior materials in our test car were high quality and well fitted, and the controls were easy to find and use.
On the road, 2017 Lexus RC200t was incredibly well balanced. The ride with firm without being harsh and the tramsission was always poised to downshift for another burst of speed. It is also incredibly quiet on the road, further proof that it is a genuine luxury car.
Our test car came with several option groups, including the F Sport package that included even more aggressive exterior trim, a special suspension and bigger brakes. It also had a navigation/audio package that included an upgraded stereo and a keypad on the console to control the infortainment screen that only takes a little practice to master. They pushed the price to just over $50,000, which is still below most comparably priced competitors.
Lexus has worked hard in recent years to beef up its sporty credentials with high-powered new models and F Sport packages that include serious components. The 2018 RC200t can be considered an affordable entry into this line up, offering a lot of value for the price.
Base price: $41,150
Price as tested: $50,885
Style: Compact sport coupe
Engine: Turbocharged/intercooled 2.0-liter inline 4 (241 hp, 258 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
EPA fuel economy: 22/32
Length: 184.8 inches
Weight: 3737 pounds
Final assembly: Tahara, Aichi, Japan