The term ‘GT’ is often thrown around in motoring circles when referencing svelte, two-door coupés. But what exactly is a ‘GT’? It originates from the Italian ‘Gran Turismo’ which, loosely translated, means ‘Grand Touring’. In other words, it’s a vehicle capable of covering inordinately long distances in great comfort and style – and at considerable pace.
This describes the new Lexus RC 200t to a tee, epitomising what the original ‘GT’ concept is all about. Its latest iteration in 200t guise is the most recent addition to the RC range and this model adopts a keen focus on balance and overall driveability to deliver an accomplished Grand Tourer experience.
Glenn Crompton, Vice President of Marketing for Lexus is very candid about the role the new RC plays in the local Lexus line-up: “Cars like the RC exist not as volume cars, but as aspirational products designed to draw in the young and the young at heart. The 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo, provides an accessible point of entry for lifestyle buyers who want the statement of a luxury coupé balanced with the efficiencies afforded by a smaller capacity powerplant.
“In this context the new RC 200t fits the brief perfectly – it’s stylish, refined, frugal and generously stocked with a pleasing athleticism to it. It boasts an emotional draw too – key among them its striking looks – and some creditable dynamic skills. With a price tag of R699 100 it’s also certain to appeal to wallet-conscious buyers.”
Rare Classic – Stylish Exterior
The RC coupé cuts a dashing figure with curvaceous lines and dramatic detail. The façade is headlined by the signature spindle grille incorporating a large Lexus insignia and elegant, chrome-plated vertical bars. Unique design cues include the LED foglamps which form part of the spindle-grille ‘border’.
Chiselled headlamps, utilising LED lighting elements, add a touch of aggression whilst effortlessly illuminating the road ahead. Independent Daytime Running Lights (DRL) recessed into the bumper add to the visual drama.
In profile, the RC flaunts a sweeping roofline with alternating surface treatments to accentuate the coupe lines. The rear design centres around the prominent, L-shaped tail lights, which extend toward the centre apron. Distinctive, aerodynamic fins located at the lower corners of the bumper create a bespoke look but also perform a necessary function, enabling smooth airflow over the body.
Other examples include air ducts integrated into the corners of the front bumper to control airflow to the sides of the body. Ditto for the aero stabilising guide mounted immediately behind the front bumper which diverts airflow entering through the front grille and stabilises it before it enters the radiator to enhance engine cooling efficiency. A front air deflector and groove-shaped front fender liner minimise airflow reaching the front wheels, contributing to aerodynamic efficiency on the side of the vehicle.
The rear air deflector performs the same task for the rear wheels, while a bead has been adopted for the rear fender liner to effectively divert airflow generated by the rotating wheel to the outside, which helps optimise airflow through to the rear.
Similarly, the rear bumper's lower garnish in conjunction with the aforementioned aerofins are sculpted to direct airflow to the rear of the vehicle. The RC's rear combination lamps also feature vertical fins as does the tip of the door frame moulding to provide optimal straight-line stability and to suppress steering wobble.
The boot lid has a sculpted shape to stabilise airflow from the roof of the vehicle. Attention was also paid to the underbody aerodynamic design to enhance efficiency. There are engine, floor and rear floor undercovers to smooth airflow and stabilising fins help to reduce turbulence.
Rounding off the RC’s dynamic profile are EX-exclusive five-spoke 18-inch alloys with three-dimensional detail courtesy of the bi-tone finish.
Ravishing Cabin – Immersive Interior
A fundamental component of a Grand Tourer is the occupant space. In this regard the RC 200t doesn’t disappoint with a cabin optimised for comfort, luxury and convenience. The interior layout delivers excellent ergonomics, ensuring that every journey is a relaxed affair. The now-familiar Lexus Remote Touch Interface device features touch-pad operation, allowing driver and passenger to navigate through the Infotainment system.
Adding a touch of techno-wizardry is electrostatic climate control switchgear (these allow adjustments to be made to the temperature by simply sliding your finder along the elegant metal strip) and gesture control in-cabin illumination.
Occupant comfort is ensured by plush power seats trimmed in luxurious leather, offering 8-way adjustability for the driver and 6-way adjustment for the front passenger. Completing the package is seat heating and ventilation for driver and passenger.
Scrabbling for keys is no concern, as the Smart Entry system allows convenient access to lock and unlock the vehicle. The engine start operation is likewise a mere press of a button away.
Racy Composure – Dynamic Handling
Forming the foundation of the RC200t is a tempered version of the Lexus GS platform. The highly acclaimed multi-link front-suspension and double wishbone rear suspension from the GS, has been fine-tuned to deliver excellent driving dynamics and enhanced agility befitting that of a Grand Tourer.
For example, the front suspension has a 15 per cent stiffer spring rate than the GS chassis and there is a new calibration for the bushings, springs and dampers, which is aimed at achieving less roll angle while maintaining ride comfort. In addition, numerous suspension components are new, including front upper support, coil spring, damper, stabiliser bar and bushing, and lower number two bushing. The rear coil springs, dampers, upper number one arm, lower number two arm, stabiliser bar and stabiliser bushings are also new. The toe control arm from the GS Line has been adapted to optimise rear grip.
Additional body strength was the decisive factor in achieving the high performance suspension upgrades. The RC 200t is considerably stiffer than the chassis that contributed platform technology, enabling higher damping forces and larger diameter front and rear stabiliser bars. These enhancements improve handling without affecting ride quality.
Refined Creation - Driving Force
Powering the RC200t is Lexus’ proven 8AR-FTS 2.0-litre twin-scroll turbocharged petrol engine allied to an eight-speed Direct Shift automatic transmission with paddle shift, allowing manual intervention. (Drive Mode Select is a standard feature which acts on throttle response and engine performance characteristics, permitting the driver to toggle between Eco and Normal, while a more spirited driving style is facilitated in Sport mode.)
This ultra-refined, technology-laden power unit has been employed in various models across the Lexus range and paired with the composed RC chassis, produces a relaxed and effortless ‘tourer’.
Crammed with cutting-edge technology, this 2.0-litre powerhouse can operate on both the fuel-saving Atkinson cycle and the conventional Otto cycle.
Special attention was paid during the engine's development to minimise turbo 'lag'. This includes the use of a twin-scroll turbocharger and mounting the intercooler to the engine to minimise the intake volume downstream of the turbocharger to optimise response.
Key features of this powerplant include the world's first cylinder head with integrated four-into-two exhaust manifold and twin-scroll turbocharger, and the latest iteration of the Lexus intelligent variable valve timing system, known as VVT-iW ('W' for wide).
The wider range of inlet timing variation in the VVT-iW system means the new RC 200t engine can – as mentioned – switch instantly from the Otto cycle to the high-expansion ratio, high-efficiency Atkinson cycle according to vehicle operating conditions. Lexus has previously used the Atkinson combustion cycle exclusively in hybrid-model petrol engines.
The new 8AR-FTS engine also has the latest Lexus fuel injection system, known as ESTEC D-4ST (Economy with Superior Thermal Efficient Combustion) and an air-to-liquid intercooler. The D-4ST system splits injection between high-pressure direct and low-pressure port injection according to driving conditions, providing optimum combustion at all times.
The new turbocharged engine delivers 180kW of power at 5800rpm and 350Nm of torque (available from a low 1650 rpm to 4400 rpm) to offer the driver great flexibility and endowing the RC 200t with a 7,5 seconds sprint time in the obligatory 0-100km/h dash. Top speed is pegged at 230 km/h.
It has a combined-cycle fuel economy of 8 litres/100km and CO2 emissions of 186g/km.
The Lexus 8AR-FTS engine is cast with low nickel content, heat-resistant steel. Cooling oil jets under the pistons improve durability and enhance warm-up performance. Twin balance shafts with resin gears minimise engine vibration to improve cabin comfort - a marked improvement in four-cylinder engine technology.
Further measures to reduce noise, vibration and harshness include an electric air bypass valve and a resonator in the intake system, to reduce the characteristic turbo noise when the throttle is closed (referred to as the 'turbo sigh').
The Lexus turbo-petrol engine was bench-tested for more than 10,000 hours before extensive on-road testing began, covering more than one million kilometres.
Lexus developed a new 0-20W viscosity lubricating oil without calcium content to remove the chance of engine knock at low engine revolutions.
Right Specification – All the Bells & Whistles
The RC 200t comes with a shed load of standard equipment that many rivals charge a small fortune for.
Here’s a brief summary of all the standard kit:
- Smart Entry
- LED lights (headlights, tail lights, fog lights & DRLs)
- Rear fog lights
- Auto headlamp levelling
- Headlamp cleaner
- Heated and retractable side mirrors
- Power Sun Roof (tilt & slide)
- Leather upholstery
- Front seat heater and ventilation
- Power front seats
- Two-way driver seat lumbar support
- Electric Power Steering (EPS)
- Steering switches (audio, voice command, info display, cruise control & telephone)
- Power windows (auto-up and –down)
- Cruise Control
- Full-colour Multi Information Display
- Auto Shift Lock
- Illuminated Entry System
- 4-sensor Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) with Brake Assist (BA) and Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD)
- Vehicle Stability Control (VSC)
- Traction Control (TRC)
- Hill Start Assist Control (HAC)
- Variable Gear Ratio Steering
- Tyre Pressure Monitor
- Park Distance Control with Reverse Camera
- 8 airbags including front, rear, side, curtain & knee bags
The new Lexus RC 200t is priced at R699 100 (incl. VAT) and comes standard with a
4-year/100 000km Lexus Distance Plan Plus maintenance plan.
The RC 350 F Sport carries a price tag of R787 600 (incl. VAT).