The RC luxury sport coupe was introduced to Lexus’ stable for the 2015 model year and it returns for 2016 model year with new engine variants. The new RC 200t and RC 300 AWD join the RC 350 for a more extensive luxury coupe line-up that offers drivers more horsepower options to fit their needs. In addition, the Lexus RC features several other changes for 2016. The RC 200t F SPORT and 350 RWD F SPORT now offer optional orange brake callipers and Limited Slip differential. Performance dampers are standard for RC 200t and available for RC 350 RWD F SPORT. Eminent White Pearl exterior paint replaces Starfire Pearl.
Drivers can now opt in for additional peace of mind with Lexus Enform Service Connect. Lexus Enform Service Connect (one-year complimentary subscription) allows customers to remotely view information about certain aspects of their Lexus vehicle via the MyLexusandBeyond mobile application for iOS smartphone users or LexusDrivers.com. Information includes maintenance alerts, warning light notifications and a vehicle health report that includes email and push notifications for diagnostic information, required maintenance reminders, current vehicle alerts, service campaigns, and more.
The new RC 200t, available as RWD only, adopts a 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine with intercooler paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. This engine produces 241 hp and has 258 lb.-ft. torque at 1,650-4,400 rpm. Lexus developed the turbocharged engine in-house, first integrated it into the NX 200t luxury utility vehicle for 2015 model year, and modified it for application in RC 200t, IS 200t and GS 200t.
Lexus offers the new RC 300 AWD with 255 hp and 236 lb.-ft. torque at 2,000-4,800 rpm for drivers who may encounter inclement weather. The RC 300 AWD features a modified 3.5-liter V6 engine paired to a six-speed automatic transmission.
While the RC 350 swaggers with a striking exterior, it features refinement and power under the hood. A standard 306 horsepower 3.5-liter V6 teamed to an eight-speed Sports Program Direct Shift (SPDS) transmission for rear-wheel drive models helps provide smooth acceleration, predictable torque and good fuel economy.
A key to the RC’s exceptional handling ability is an ultra-stiff platform. The RC is the latest model from a ride and handling transformation at Lexus that started with the current GS midsize luxury sedan and progressed with the current-generation IS sport sedan.
Lexus offers the RC 350 in both rear-wheel drive and with all-weather drive, the latter using a six-speed automatic transmission, and an F SPORT version.
Distinguished by exclusive exterior design and interior features, the F SPORT will also raise the performance ante with the standard Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) system and the available Lexus Dynamic Handling system, which includes rear-wheel steering.
The driving environment is no less exciting than the dramatic body enveloping it. Infused with a strong sports car aesthetic and pure Lexus luxury, the RC cabin also reflects a strong influence from the Lexus LFA supercar.
Beneath its alluring lines, the RC features technology and production engineering advancements. For example, the signature paint color, Infrared, uses a contrast layering paint technique that was pioneered on concept vehicles.
The Lexus RC’s chassis is unique, although it does draw from the architecture of other Lexus vehicles. The front end is based on the highly acclaimed Lexus GS, which set new standards for stiffness and chassis response in a mid-sized sedan.
The rear of the RC platform is based on the current-generation IS sport sedan, a car that has already proven its performance and handling mettle in a hotly contested segment. In the center, where the structure needed to maintain rigidity with two large door openings, Lexus borrowed from the IS convertible structure.
None of those three portions was directly taken from the other cars. Rather, each contributed more than the sum of its parts to the overall chassis package. Lexus fine-tuned the resulting platform to provide the specific high-performance character sought for its RC coupe.
High Rigidity Body
To create the best-handling regular production Lexus yet, Lexus started with the handling stars of its current line, adapting portions of their platforms to create an exceptionally rigid foundation for the RC. The front suspension area is based on GS, with increased apron panel thickness. The center floor section, based on the Lexus IS C, has an enlarged rocker cross section – nearly double that of IS sedan — to help provide exceptional control. The rear floor is based on the current-generation IS sport sedan, with added center-floor reinforcements.
As it did with the IS, Lexus applied manufacturing techniques to yield a rigid body structure. Laser screw welding, additional spot welding and special body adhesives all do their part to help give the RC a strong body. High-rigidity structural adhesive is used to help secure the windshield and backlight.
Under-floor braces added to the radiator support and number-two crossmember, along with a front A-brace, tunnel brace and trapezoidal rear brace, all help contribute to rigidity.
The driver will feel the net result of all those construction features when aiming the RC into a corner and then feeling its impeccable blend of crisp turn-in response and utter poise through the curve. And if there happens to be a small bump in the curve, all the better to show off how the RC’s stiff platform and finely tuned suspension work together to help the driver keep the car composed.
The RC 200t engine features a combination of water-cooled cylinder head, integrated exhaust manifold and twin scroll turbocharger for fast throttle response, performance and high torque at low engine revs. Variable Valve Timing intelligent – Wide (VVTi-W) allows the engine to switch between the Otto and Atkinson cycles.
This new four-cylinder engine relies on a turbocharger developed entirely in-house to offer the efficiency and power delivery for Lexus applications. The D-4ST direct injection system combines a high pressure fuel system for injection directly in to the cylinders with a low pressure system for injection into the ports. Injection is split between the direct and port injectors according to the engine load to help fuel economy.
Powertrain: A V6 That’s a Perfect 10
Lexus chose a naturally aspirated V6 for its instantaneous response and performance-driving character. It also sounds like a proper GT car, with a distinct but refined growl under acceleration and a pleasingly present but quiet demeanor when cruising. An intake sound generator further enhances sonic appeal under acceleration. The overall effect is memorable, but never abrasive, and doesn’t intrude on conversation or music enjoyment.
The 3.5-liter Lexus 2GR-FSE V6 propels the 2016 RC 350 with 306 horsepower and 277 lb.-ft. of torque. An aluminum block and heads keep weight in check. Key technologies that get credit for the broad torque curve and quick response include intelligent dual variable valve timing (VVT-i) and the Lexus D-4S system of direct and port fuel injection. With one injector installed in the combustion chamber and a second mounted in the intake port, D-4S combines the strengths of both for maximum efficiency and low emissions.
Dance Partner: Eight-Speed SPDS Transmission
Eight is enough. That’s certainly true of transmissions for high-performance cars. But what’s the best way to control the gears for the ideal performance experience?
The Lexus RC answers with one of the most acclaimed transmissions in use today, the eight-speed Sports Program Direct Shift (SPDS) transmission. This transmission debuted in the esteemed IS F high-performance sedan. The SPDS transmission combines the best of both worlds: torque converter smoothness with shifting speed of a dual-clutch unit when shifting manually. A long-travel damper for the lock-up torque converter boosts fuel economy and ensures smooth, quiet lock-up.
The SPDS transmission has three driver-selectable modes – NORMAL, SPORT and MANUAL (M), which have full torque-converter lock-up from second to eighth gears for “clutchless” manual shifting. Downshifts are made in just 0.10-second in M mode, with the transmission’s throttle blipping control matching the engine speed to the gear. The transmission’s shift control has been further developed to respond precisely to slight changes in accelerator-pedal operation for an even more dynamic and inspiring driving feel.
The eight ratios have been chosen to balance the needs of performance driving and fuel efficiency. Compared to the Lexus six-speed automatic transmission, first gear is 8.5 percent shorter and top gear is 2.9 percent taller.
The transmission SPORT mode includes G-sensor AI-Shift control, which uses information from the G-sensor on driving status to provide the optimal gear ratio for sporty driving. In SPORT mode, the transmission offers more dynamic acceleration control for a more sporting driving experience. The transmission will automatically downshift during hard braking for a corner, hold a lower gear through the corner for greater control, and then give the driver a greater power response on corner exit by selecting a suitable low gear.
NORMAL mode influences fuel economy and seamless acceleration traditionally associated with Lexus electronically controlled transmissions. It uses all eight gears for optimum fuel efficiency, while coordinating control with the throttle to provide smooth acceleration and minimal feeling of gear changes.
Drive Mode Select: Have It Your Way
The Lexus RC listens to the driver through the Drive Mode Select system. Using a dial on the console, the driver can literally “dial in” the performance response and feel desired from the car. Drive Mode Select tailors the vehicle’s powertrain, electric power-assisted steering assist curve, air conditioning and, on F SPORT, suspension response. Modes include NORMAL, SPORT S and ECO. The F SPORT adds SPORT S+ mode for maximum handling performance from AVS suspension and the available Dynamic Handling System.
Amazing Suspension, No Disbelief
The RC likewise draws its suspension design, though not the individual parts, from the GS architecture. The front suspension is double wishbone, and the rear suspension is multi-link with a toe control arm. Monotube dampers offer ideal damping and control for a high-performance car.
Because the RC is much stiffer than the vehicles that have contributed platform technology, Lexus was able to employ much higher damping forces and use larger diameter stabilizer bars front and rear, all without adversely affecting ride comfort.
At the front, the RC has a suspension upper support, coil spring, damper, stabilizer bar, stabilizer bar bushing and lower number two bushing. In the rear, the RC features coil springs, dampers, stabilizer bar, and stabilizer bushings.
RC 350 F SPORT takes handling acumen to a higher level with Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) system and the Lexus Dynamic Handling system with Dynamic Rear Wheel Steering.
Driving connoisseurs well know that maximum agility demands rear-wheel drive (RWD), or an all-wheel drive system (AWD) that’s biased for rear-wheel handling characteristics. The Lexus RC, in RWD or AWD form, delivers on that promise.
RC chassis engineers aimed for exceptional steering response and smooth roll transfer during initial turn-in; minimal roll and rapid yaw-rate gain for agile turning mid-corner, and smooth steering feel with smooth body movement from corner to corner.