The New Coupe

Eight ways to gauge whether you’re born to drive the Lexus RC

12/05/2013—Defining a coupe these days isn’t an easy task.

Once upon a time, it meant a sleek, two-door vehicle that implied a few things about its driver, namely success, style, and—if the owner happened to be a family man—an appreciation of a second car to contrast the family sedan or wagon.

Over the years, automakers have marketed all kinds of coupe derivatives: the business coupe (two doors and two seats, made for traveling sales people), the four-door coupe (four doors but coupe proportions), and even the opera coupe, designed with a high roof to allow theater-goers to travel in style without the need to remove any hats.

Lexus has its own dramatic definition for a coupe, however, and you’re looking at it. The new RC, unveiled with a bit of attitude at the Tokyo Motor Show, is a respectful nod to the “purity” of the coupe tradition—and what that tradition says about the person who gets behind the wheel.

This then begs the question: Who exactly is that driver these days? What sort of person should be looking closely at the Lexus RC, a prestige performance car that’s designed to deliver, in the words of Chief Engineer Junichi Furuyama, “an extra” driving response?

We say that driver is you—especially if you agree with any of the following:

Image matters: How you carry yourself is important, you say, which is, in many ways, what the Lexus RC is all about. Its dimensions are sleek, pure, with hints of aggression—a trait distinctly apparent in the RC’s Lexus-signature spindle grille.

So do the details: If you agree with this one, know this: Lexus engineers gave the RC genuine shimamoku wood highlights, which are the result of an intense, layered wood production technique refined by Lexus. The vehicle also sports small but significant accoutrements such as aluminum door trim and scuff plates.

Leaders don’t shy away from power: Furuyama decided to give the vehicle a 3.5-liter engine that produces a maximum 306 horsepower. His team also outfitted the coupe with an eight-speed, Sport Direct Shift transmission, which is purposefully adapted from the Lexus IS F.

LEXUS RC AT A GLANCE

• 3.5L V6

• 304 hp

• Eight-speed Sport Direct Shift Transmission

• Available 19-inch wheels

• Available AWD

• Available navigation system with next-gen touchpad RTI

• Available F SPORT package

• Shimamoku wood highlights

Advanced tech is put on this Earth to be adopted: The Lexus RC offers a touch-sensitive Lexus Remote Touch Interface for audio and navigation systems. It’s also the first Lexus to adopt the enhanced Blind Spot Monitor system, which is designed to detect vehicles that are approaching at a higher speed and from a greater distance than the current system.

First impressions are vital: An RC coming your way shows off triangular headlamps that evoke the sporty characteristics of the LF-LC concept’s styling, while concept-vehicle inspiration is evident in the unique three-lamp LED design. At low beam, the lamps adopt an L-shaped pattern as an expression of the Lexus identity.

The act of driving should be a good time: Remember that Sport Direct Shift transmission? The RC comes with Formula One-style paddle shifters, and in manual driving mode, a torque converter lock up from second to eighth gears allows for quick down shifts.

Hospitality is a gentlemanly quality: “We developed RC to deliver extra response that exhilarates rather than overwhelms drivers, in keeping with the true spirit of Japanese hospitality, or omotenashi,” explains Furuyama, referring not just to your experience in the coupe but that of your guests and passengers.

One needs to stay in touch with their inner supercar: And finally, when you sit down for your test drive next year, take a close look at the Lexus RC’s gauges—they’re inspired by none other than those in the Lexus LFA.