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New Lexus Coupe's a real showstopper; Robin Roberts looks at the Lexus RC 200t F Sport.

SPORTS cars are all about style and speed but the Lexus RC 2+2 Coupe brings sophistication and scarcity.

Lexus has carved a niche in the market with its saloons and SUVs and dabbled with the sporting sector as well, so we have come to expect something different from the marque, which is part of the Toyota empire.

Originally shown as a motor show concept, the strong reaction to the RC put it into showrooms and on to streets, coming to the UK earlier this year but with a schedule of just 825 sales in 2016.

They are going to be snapped up with a choice of the RC 300h, using a 220bhp 2.5 petrol/ hybrid powertrain expected to account for about 80 per cent of sales, or the rarer RC 200t we drove with a 241bhp 2.0 turbo-petrol engine.

It is packed with equipment which, on rivals, would double the asking price, while its 2+2 coupe styling turns heads every time it's on the road because people have not seen many. That has to be good for residual value.

For the here and now it's the driving pleasure you get which satisfies thanks to a remarkably quiet, strong and smooth 2.0 litre turbocharged petrol engine and a silken eight-speed auto/ manual transmission.

It is not the quickest of changes but it ranks among the best I have experienced whether going up or down the gearbox, and when you match this to the truly beautifully balanced brakes underfoot and the assistance of the power steering you know it is going to be a delight to drive anywhere.

The Lexus RC 200t never felt agile in the manner of some rivals, but rather it felt a solid piece of engineering. And because it packs in a lot of equipment, it is heavier than you might expect for a two-door car.

That shows in the performance because it is not a quick car from rest or through the gears. But it's a capable car, one in which you could cross counties or continents with composure and comfort using the eco, normal or sport modes on the transmission.

You would have to be careful what you packed, though, with a modest 374-litre boot, but I suspect a lot things would end up on the twin back seats as rear legroom is restricted for passengers who wiggle into them.

The driver and front passenger have easy access and plenty of room, with enveloping, comfortable and very adjustable seats, and visibility is good to front and sides with deep windows, very bright LED lights and good wipers. Just be careful when reversing with a high tail which made the camera a very useful feature.

Secondary controls are well placed and I loved the size and clarity of the instrument display - a multi-function screen on which you can select to show what you want from the car's systems.

The F-Sport specification adds a sports steering wheel, aluminium pedals and scuff plates for the very long sills.

The Lexus ride quality is very good, with only occasional hardness evident considering the short wheelbase and big 19-inch wheels and tyres which produce modest noise to contrast the otherwise sereneness of this sporting coupe.

Most of the time on test it was in the eco-mode and as such returned 33mpg, so I wondered how low it would go in the performance settings. Much of that must also be down to the weight and there's not a lot you can do about that, but enjoy it for the benefits of solidity and smoothness it imparts.

At this price it is a headturner with few equals.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 5, 2016
Words:609
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