We drove the Lexus RC300h: stylish and sporting refinement …

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The Lexus brand truly stands for refinement. They drive smoothly, and are truly awe-inspiring in their hybrid form. But that is not all, they come now also with style. And this coupé has plenty of it. Bold, inspiring shapes, both inside and out.

We drove this coupé in hybrid version, and this is where Lexus truly shows superb state of the art mechanical know  how. Many Lexus buyers won’t have it otherwise. And we understand them. Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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Styling is a very personal matter, and car tastes too, but many will agree with us that this coupé has the looks. Its bold shapes and curves which are found in the grille and the rear end are also found on the sides of this sleek coupé, and the car makes a distinct personal statement, whether stationary or on the move.

And when moving this Lexus will inspire you even more. Nothing more elegant and soothing than driving away and maneuvering out of your parking space under velvety E-power. Under the hood, the Lexus owner will find many familiar things when he has recently sat behind the wheel of a modern Lexus. Indeed we find again the trusted 2,5 liter naturally aspirated petrol engine coupled to the electric motor as we see in the GS, IS and NX.

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The combination produces in total 223 hp. But the electric motor combined with the big four cylinder will deliver good low end pulling power, and indeed this Lexus feels very lively and powerful indeed at slower urban speeds. Responsiveness is instant, in this crucial 0 to 60 km/h range. 0 to 100 km costs 8,6 seconds, which is still quite fast, but supercar getaway performance is to be got at lower speeds. This is where it counts most, by the way, to move you quickly out of a situation…

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Going full throttle and accelerating at higher (motorway) speeds will let the engine rev and work hard, and the strength of this Lexus with its ultra smooth CVT transmission lies rather more in constant cruising , which is what this car is built for. Top speed is 190 km/h, and this amply shows again that this car is meant for Gran Turismo driving, not for out and out speeding.

Precise, responsive handling

This doesn’t mean that this Lexus doesn’t like corners. It is a delight to steer it with precision into (fast) bends, and this Lexus will remain beautifully stable and neutral, with scant body roll, whilst you are remaining snugly and firmly supported in the well shaped seats.

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Remember that Toyota is building together with Subaru its 86 or BRZ, and so they now something about designing cars which deliver cornering pleasure. So when you are in a hurry, this Lexus won’t let you feel out of place. Not that this is its natural habitat though. But it is nice to know and feel it’s there.

Cabin feel and ergonomics

The seats envelop you wonderfully, with the rear seats basically only meant for youngsters, although adults can enjoy some reasonable legroom if the people in the front accommodate a bit.

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The 340 liter boot size is adequate for two, and they also have the back seats for extras to take along on a Gran Turismo trip. All the typical Lexus amenities are there, with intuitive to use knobs, handles and remote control pads and the like. The touchpad takes some getting used to, but we love it.  Infotainment is also of the highest order, with a beautiful Mark Levinson sound system complete with CD player, which, traditionalists as we are, simply love so much.

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We let run the double CD of Madeleine Peyroux through the system, the “best of”, and this American jazz singer living in Paris sounded every bit so wonderful in this Coupé … Bravo also for the nice round volume knob of the radio/sound system. It is ideally placed for your right hand, just turn up and down the volume, instead of fiddling with buttons on the steering wheel, for example…

Of course, the Dab radio is also a delight to listen to, and this quiet, velvety Lexus is just your ideal rolling studio cabin…

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Another gimmick is the engine sound, which will run artificially through the speakers in “sport” mode. The dashboard instruments will also change hue and look, as they are virtual, and enhance further the sporting “ambiance.” It is good to know that you can cancel this sound when you find it too much…

Frugal, if only you let it…

Hybrid cars can be wondrously frugal, if you put your mind (and right foot) to it, and this Lexus will spoil you indeed. The bonus is quiet, smooth progress, of a panache which is unique. At low speeds, the electric motor will do most of the work, and indeed, in stop and go traffic, you wouldn’t wish for anything else. Consumption is officially 4,9 liter on average, and indeed hovering between 5 and 6 liters is quite within reach. CO2 emissions are quoted a lowish 108 g/km.

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Using the performance, the laws of physics remind you this is a 1736 kg coupé, and this costs energy when you start to move this around rather briskly. Remember that the electromotor is good for a healthy 143 HP, and it is quite capable of moving this Lexus RC with spirit. So using the “only EV mode” is a realistic proposition.

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Conclusion

Stylish, well built, superbly designed, tried and tested hybrid mechanics, driving with a feline smoothness of a unique panache, that is what this Lexus RC300h is all about. You will arrive in it everywhere in style, exuding lavishness yet marrying it with environmental awareness and cleverness.

It is also built to last (almost) forever, be very reasonable on maintenance costs and upkeep. Just take care of it, maintain it with heart and it will serve you for years as an elegant companion. On top of that, it is frugal and even better, it is totally built for the future, whatever the lawmaker will have up his sleeve in terms of environmental restrictions. You can indeed continue to own and drive this Lexus for years to come, with total peace of mind…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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