The wraps officially came off of the new 2015 Lexus RC Coupe in Tokyo and at first blush, this striking addition to the family clearly lives up to its pre-introduction hype. More than a mere 2-door version of the IS sport sedan, the new Lexus RC reflects an evolution of the division's design philosophy that its chief engineer, Junichi Furuyama, says focused on delivering "extra response that exhilarates rather than overwhelms drivers." Due in showrooms late next year, it matches visual spark with impressive technology.
Based on a variation of the GS Sedan platform, the RC Coupe shares no basic dimensions with either the IS or GS. This upcoming Lexus family member is 1.2 inches wider and 1.4-inches lower than an IS and has a 2.8-inch shorter wheelbase, all of which combine to give the RC a more purposeful stance whether it's set off with the standard 18-inch wheel/tire package or an optional 19-inch upgrade. The RC's sleekly contoured bodywork is complemented by boldly rendered fascia treatments that include the largest and most aggressive variation to date of the division's signature spindle grille up front and an equally edgy tail highlighted by prominent air extractor outlets. As a finishing touch, the car's LED-infused lighting elements feature an L-shaped motif on each end while its brilliant red paint uses a new process that layers color and clear coats to add extra brightness and depth to the finish.
This new coupe will be available in Lexus RC 300h and RC 350 form, although only the latter variant will be coming to America when the vehicle goes on sale here. First Lexus hybrid coupe, the RC 300h features the same Hybrid Synergy Drive components used in the Euro-only Lexus IS 300h and teams a 176-horsepower/2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with the latest D-4S direct/port fuel injection and a 105-horse electric motor to create a system that yields 217 total horsepower. This heads to the rear wheels via an electronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) with six virtual gears and a sequential shift-matic feature. The RC 350 also shares basic powertrain elements with the IS Sedan, although its 3.5-liter gasoline V6 makes 314 horses in this application - up from 306 -- and the paddle-shifted 8-speed Sport Direct Shift automatic is culled from the ISF performance model. The RC 350 also will be available in some markets, including the US., with optional all-wheel drive.
To ensure handling of the new RC Coupe lives up to its looks, Lexus employed knowledge gained from the GS and IS development programs to enhance rigidity of the car's core structure and fine tune the component elements of its double wishbone front/multilink rear suspension. The RC also is fitted with various underbody fairings and other aero-enhancing aids that help trim drag and improve its high-speed stability.
While displaying plenty of sporting character, the 4-passenger cabin of the new Lexus RC also offers the same kind of luxury touches you'd expect from any Lexus. In this case, that includes shimamoku wood accents culled from the flagship LS Sedan as well as the first application of a new dedicated ambient lighting package. The RC's seats are constructed using a racing-derived integrated foaming process that enhances comfort and support while its long list of standard equipment includes a navigation system with a 7.0-inch display screen and the new, more user-friendly Remote Touch Interface (RTI) multimedia controller. The Lexus RC also will be the first of the division's offerings to feature an upgraded and more capable Blind Spot Monitoring system that can detect vehicles coming up from further behind and/or traveling at greater speeds than the current iteration.
Pricing for the 2015 Lexus RC 350 won't be announced until closer to its actual on-sale date. Between now and then, expect to see both an RC F model - possibly as early as the Detroit Auto Show in January - as well as a considerably hotter F-Sport variant put in preview appearances of their own.
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