The most popular RC is the hybrid 300h. Its 2.5-litre petrol engine and electric motor combine to produce 220bhp and are governed by a CVT automatic gearbox. The 300h can also operate for short distances in emissions-free electric-only mode – great for negotiating congested urban roads in quiet comfort.
With a 0-62mph time of 8.6sec, performance is adequate but you’ll find plenty of sensible SUVs can out-drag it. As with other Lexus hybrids, if you do pin the throttle to the floor, the rev counter’s needle makes a beeline for the redline and stays there until you lift your right foot. Given the engine’s coarse note, we doubt it’s something you’ll do often. In theory you can use wheel-mounted paddles to shift through six simulated gears, but this seems send polite suggestions to the gearbox rather than direct commands.
The ride is quite firm, but not disruptively so – the payoff being that body control is pretty good given the car’s fairly substantial weight. But while it doesn’t pitch and heave, you feel that heft when you try to slow down or corner briskly, the nose running wide surprisingly early. If you’re a keen driver that hopes to neutralise that with a dollop of power, forget it. The RC might be rear-wheel drive but the 300h just doesn’t have the muscle to trouble the tyres in dry conditions. The steering is also a disappointment feeling vague off-centre and with not enough weight build-up as you apply lock.
The V8-engined RC F came off second-best when we tested it against the excellent BMW M4, but the F is still a commendable super-coupe thanks to its naturally aspirated, 457bhp 5.0-litre V8, which revs freely, makes a great noise and hurls the car to 62mph in just 4.5sec. It uses a conventional eight-speed automatic gearbox that is far superior to the 300h’s CVT but could be a bit snappier.
It rides nicely, but with the extra weight of its bigger engine, it struggles to compete with the likes of the BMW M4 for agility and driver engagement. It has plenty of grip, but lacks the steering precision of the BMW and is less controllable when pushing hard.