In a simple and elegant ceremony on Tuesday night, Lexus Manila debuted the RC coupe in its showroom. This exciting two-door model represents the luxury carmaker’s return to the premium-coupe category.
Well, you might say the IS convertible and the LFA have two doors, but the IS C wasn’t premium enough to go toe to toe with the big Audis and Mercs, while the LFA was on another planet altogether.
In the automotive world, a coupe is a special kind of luxury. It’s a statement against practicality--that you feel privileged enough to only want you and your passenger to ride in the car. A coupe also says that the owner likes to drive, because there’s hardly any room for a chauffeur inside.
The Lexus RC combines these traits of privilege and driving enjoyment in a muscular package. Some wonder if this new model is merely a coupe version of the IS sedan, but that’s only partially true. The RC chassis is a combination of three different models: The front end comes from the GS, the middle is from the IS convertible (for stiffness), and the rear portion is the part based on the IS sedan.
In the metal, the RC’s stance is a little menacing, completely shedding the docile design language of past Lexus models. It is low and squat, with a face bearing the most prominent implementation of the brand’s aggressive spindle-grille look. On either side, a multi-LED headlight setup illuminates the path ahead.
Behind the headlights lie the special powerplants chosen to propel the RC forward. The base engine is the 3.5-liter V6 also found in the IS350. This produces 306hp, which is more than adequate for weekend fun runs. But if the fun-run company you keep is composed of expensive Italian and German machinery, then you’re going to need something with more bite.
You will require the RC F. As the last letter connotes, this is part of Lexus’s performance line. This early, there’s buzz that this is the car that can go against the BMW M4. Under the hood of the RC F lurks a 5.0-liter V8 that generates 467hp, and whose engineering is directly linked to the LFA’s V10 mill. Harnessing all this power is an eight-speed close-ratio gearbox.
As with any modern high-performance car, there are vehicle modes to suit a driver’s any given need. The RC F has four modes in its Vehicle Dynamic Integrated Management system: Normal, Sport, Off and Expert. The latter is a new setting that lets the driver have more leeway when it comes to wringing more performance out of the RC F, and it only kicks in to prevent a spin.
Of course, this being a Lexus, creature comforts still abound. Premium leather cossets the driver and the passenger, with the seats built using the integrated foaming method. By including foam in the upholstery, the RC seats disperse body weight evenly, resulting in a hold that is both comfortable and sporty at the same time.
While the RC has elegant gauges with silver rings around them, the RC F gets the dazzling digital display similar to the one in the LFA. Reinforcing the sporty image is the multi-information display that has a G-monitor and a lap timer.
We’ve already published the prices for the two RC models, both in our magazine and here on our website, but to refresh your memory, the RC goes for P3.648 million, while the RC F’s asking price is P5.868 million.
While those prices can’t be called affordable, they’re more than reasonable considering the amount of engineering and brand cachet you’re getting.
The RC series is a fine return to form for Lexus. Even if it doesn’t sell a lot by volume (although we hear initial sales have far exceeded expectations), it will do well as a halo car now that the LFA’s production has ended.
The RC's predecessors--the SC coupe, the IS F and the LFA--were also on display that night in the showroom, and they looked undoubtedly proud of their progeny.
Photos by Dinzo Tabamo