Lexus RC 300h 2.5 2dr CVT
Given that the RC looks a bit like an LC and a Toyota GT86 that got married and had a child, it’s a handsome enough thing - especially sporty from some angles. Complex, but intriguing. It looks great on the bigger 19-inch wheels, and definitely looks rear-wheel drive, and therefore like it might be a bit of a laugh.
This is not the case in 300h guise. The motivation comes from a 2.5-litre Atkinson cycle four-cylinder petrol and neat electric-motor/small-ish-battery arrangement, coupled to a new E-CVT gearbox, and it is … frugal. But it most definitely isn’t even vaguely athletic, or satisfying. The E-CVT might be efficient, but it sucks all the response out of the modest combined outputs, leaving the RC to feel flat and underpowered. And sounding like a blender. With a 0-62mph time of 8.6 seconds, it’ll get hammered by even a warm hatchback. That’t not a good look.
That’s a shame, because you get the feeling that past the dull engine and ‘box is a perfectly respectable chassis. It’s certainly stiff enough to cope with a bit of pace, featuring as it does a host of new bracing (rocker panels, cowl side bracing, underbody stuff, even high-rigidity front and rear windscreen adhesive - really), new manufacturing techniques (laser screw welding, a bit of very modern glue) - all stuff that contributes to allowing the suspension to do its job without having to factor in twist.
The front-double wishbone and rear multi-link suspension is well-damped, the steering regular and well weighted, the ride good. New, stiffer bushings and dampers on this version tidy things up that little bit more, and there’s enough grip to keep up. It just feels flat-footed by the hardware pushing it along. It also seems to slip through the air that little bit more easily - thank the revised aero for that - but I think that might also be a feeling re-inforced by the fact that the new RC is quieter. In fact, that’s where the RC 300h is really at its best; rowing along at a relaxed pace, taking in the scenery. It’s easy to swan around in town - with a lot of pure EV running - acceptable rather than exciting on a B-road.
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