By Patrick James on 2017-03-12 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
Lexus RC 300h
THERE are not that many cars on the road that are showstoppers, but the Lexus RC 300hthis premium two-door coupe is certainly one of them.
This premium two-door coupe looks a real beauty, all chiselled and sculpted angular lines, with triangular headlamp design, flared wings and sweeping profile. It has a wide stance and striking alloy wheels to give it a powerful, sporty road presence.
However if you are looking for blistering performance in this hybrid model, you may be disappointed.
Despite the 2.5-litre engine and battery producing 220bhp, pace is reasonably leisurely, more Grand Tourer than neck-wrenching firecracker acceleration.
Sprinting from nought to 62mph takes 8.6 seconds and on to a top speed is 118mph where permitted. At the same time, official consumption figures are 57.6mpg and CO2 emissions from 113g/km.
The rear wheels are driven by the electronic continuously variable transmission (E-CVT) which has a six-step, sequential Shiftmatic gear change function to provide a generally smooth gear shift, a world away from early CVT efforts.
As a full hybrid, it has the benefit of a fully electric EV driving mode, perfect in slow moving traffic.
There is a quicker version, a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol unit in the RC 200t, but the set up is a testament to Toyota and Lexus long-term commitment to hybrid technology.
The design is strking with the trademark Lexus spindle grille wider than on saloon models and each element in the three-light cluster containing both high and low-beam lamps.
The twin-exhaust and aero-stabilising fins at the far edges of the rear bumper further enhance the sporty profile.
The interior, which resembles a cockpit with all the standard gizmos and electronics, is pure luxury with leather seating, leather trim and high quality soft touch finish to dash and doors in what the firm calls a grey Shimamoku trim.
The driver is surrounded by central console which a large bin capacity and a track/pad mouse which control the major functions through the central seven inch display screen. It can be a bit fiddly and is very sensitive, especially on the move, but the screen is clear and legible.
It controls sat nav, climate control, connectivity and a superb Mark Levison sound system on this model and there is also a 4.2- inch multi-display system incorporated into the binnacle to keep the driver informed of what's happening in the car.
At more than £40,000 you would expect a comprehensive list of kit and that's just what you get with the RC 300h.
The ‘standard' model is well equipped, but this range topper has goodies like heated and cooled electrically adjustable seats, LED headlights, cruise control, parking sensors, smart entry and push-button start, dual-zone climate control, leather upholstery and power-adjustable heated front seats with memory function, climate control, rain sensing wipers and auto dimming rear view mirror as well as the usual electronic aids and gizmos.
The list continues with the comprehensive safety kit on offer which includes all round air bags, traction and stability control and on this model blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert and limited slip differential.
Coupe it may be, but it does offer decent practicality with split and folding 60/40 rear seats to open up that extra stowage space. The boot is not huge and space compromised by the battery, but is adequate for the style of car.
On the road the car is comfortable and performance is more than adequate. In traffic, switch to electric only mode for maximum economy and zero tailpipe emissions, but then floor the throttle and the car responds respectably. For a more rewarding drive, switch to sport mode and engage the paddle changes behind the multi-function steering wheel.
This sharpens up engine and suspension settings for a bit more fun while the limited slip differential delivers excellent grip.
Ride and handling are good, with the wide stance of the car makes it feel well planted on corners and bends.
But most of all it is a stylish coupe with enough pace to make things exciting, but enough space for a comfortable drive.
Lexus RC 300h Premier
Mechanical: 220bhp, 2,494cc, 4cyl petrol engine/battery hybrid driving rear wheels wheels via automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 118mph
0-62mph: 8.6 seconds
Combined MPG: 57.6
Insurance Group: 36
C02 emissions: 113g/km
Bik rating: 17%
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