By Mike Torpey on 2016-11-27 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Lexus RC 300h
THERE are manufacturers out there who scream from the rooftops about the fantastic design of their cars - when actually they don't look out of the ordinary.
Well Lexus can shout all they like about the new RC coupe, because it's a pure and simple stunner.
What you get with the RC is an upmarket two-door sports coupe with slick styling, an engaging drive and impressive refinement, topped off with a touch of luxury.
A younger fanbase is the target and a choice of two powertrains is up for grabs in the shape ofa full hybrid with a 2.5-litre petrol engine in the tested RC 300h and a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol unit in the RC 200t.
The Lexus Hybrid Drive system in the RC 300h combines a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine with a powerful electric motor that together a hefty 220bhp.
We're talking an acceleration time of 0-62 in 8.6 seconds and top speed of 118mph, while still returning average fuel consumption of 57.6mpg and CO2 emissions from 113g/km, at least for models with 18-inch wheels.
Of course succeeding in the area of the market in which the RC operates is no cakewalk, especially as it is already populated by the likes of the Mercedes Benz C-Class Coupe, Ford Mustang and BMW 4 Series.
And if these rivals have an edge when it comes to sharp dynamics or outright performance, the Lexus holds the trump card when it comes to luxury, comfort and a more compliant ride quality.
Nonetheless the RC is a very engaging car to drive. It was developed on the demanding Nurburgring racetrack and features both a rigid chassis and race- tuned suspension.
Its electronic continuously variable - E-CVT - transmission has a six-step, sequential Shiftmatic gear change function to sharpen the drive, and there's also a fully electric EV driving mode for ultra-quiet running with zero tailpipe emissions and fuel consumption.
And as a full hybrid the RC 300h can be driven using its petrol engine and electric motor in combination or on its electric motor alone.
Inside, it's all leather-clad luxury plus dashboard simplicity and as is the case with coupes, the emphasis is on those upfront - don't expect much in the way of rear space or even a large boot.
That said there are plenty of standard goodies like LED headlights, heated sports seats, smooth leather upholstery, parking sensors, cruise control and a raft of safety features.
And the Lexus Premium Navigation set-up, operated via a seven-inch colour display, brings 10-speaker audio with DAB and a DVD player, Bluetooth, parl assist monitor and a rotary Remote Touch control.
It also provides a smartphone linking function so travellers can access navigation applications and view the details on the centre console display.
Three trim grades are up for grabs and of the two engines, the hybrid will have particular appeal due to its low CO2 emissions of 113g/km, which means it stays tax free for the first year and then £30 in following years. An attractive benefit-in-kind rate of 17 per cent will woo business drivers.
Lexus RC 300h Premier
Mechanical: 220bhp, 2,494cc, V6 petrol engine and electric motor driving rear wheels via electric CVT transmission
Max Speed: 118mph
0-62mph: 8.6 seconds
Combined MPG: 57.6
Insurance Group: 36
C02 emissions: 113g/km
Bik rating: 17%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles, 3yrs paint, 12yrs anti-rust
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