Lexus RC Coupe Review
The Lexus RC is a premium two-door coupe that delivers smart design, Lexus luxury and craftsmanship, plus a refined and even quite engaging driving experience. The idea is to attract new and younger customers to the Lexus brand and there's the choice of two engines, a 2.5-litre petrol electric hybrid and a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol unit. The sort of thing you're looking for in a top coupe.
We tried the RC coupe in the 300h petrol electric hybrid form most buyers will want. You probably won't be expecting this Japanese contender to match its German rivals for handling involvement - and this coupe doesn't. That said, it's more involving than we expected it might be. Vehicle dynamics benefit from tuned electric power steering and an Adaptive Variable Suspension system that emphasises handling agility as well as ride comfort. All good on a top coupe. If you want to settle back though, there's nothing quite like the quiet, refined and sophisticated driving experience provided by the full hybrid powertrain and the E-CVT auto gearbox. As usual with a Lexus hybrid, you get the benefit of a fully electric EV driving mode for silent running over short distances. The engine is a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder Atkinson cycle petrol unit aided by a powerful electric motor. Total output is 220bhp, acceleration from nought to 62mph can be accomplished in 8.6 seconds, while the top speed is 118mph.
The alternative to hybrid motoring for RC customers is provided by the conventional 2.0-litre turbo petrol unit installed in the 200t model. Here, you get a little more performance thanks to 241bhp and 350Nm of torque. The nought to 62mph benchmark is 7.5 seconds and the top speed is 143mph.
The RC coupe's exterior design features a compact cabin area, powerfully flared wings and contoured bodywork with deeply sweeping lines. The trademark Lexus spindle grille is wider than on saloon models and has a longitudinal rather than lateral mesh pattern, projecting the car's wide stance and low centre of gravity. The rear design features prominent, muscular wheel arches and an echo of the front spindle styling.
Inside this coupe, you get a snug, driver-focused cockpit that feels as luxurious as much more expensive luxury coupes - say Mercedes' E-Class Coupe for example. As with other Lexus models, the dash is divided into upper and lower zones, the upper display zone communicating information and the lower operation zone housing all the principal controls and switchgear. The centre console also features electrostatic switches that allow air conditioning temperature to be adjusted with just the touch of a finger.
There's a touch more rear seat space than you'd get in, say, coupe versions of the BMW 4 Series or the Audi A5 and access to the back is made easier with a one-touch walk-in function using a lever mounted on the shoulder of the front seats. This automatically slides the front seat forward while folding the seatback forward. There's 340-litres of boot space in the 300h - and 374-litres in the 200t, both figures unexceptional by class standards, but likely to be enough for most owners.
The Lexus RC coupe is a welcome addition to the ranks of relatively affordable coupes. Not everyone prioritises ultimate driving dynamics in coupes of this kind and for those in search of a luxury coupe, this car may well satisfy.
Compared to coupe versions of obvious rivals like Mercedes C-Class, BMW's 4 Series and Audi's A5, the Lexus RC coupe is a very different kind of contender. It feels more expensive and has the driveway presence and cabin feel of a £50,000 car rather than one costing £35,000 to £40,000. A certain kind of buyer will like this 2-door coupe very much. And we can understand why.Click here to find out more about our Lexus RC Coupe Review range
Mercedes-Benz C Class Coupe Review
The smallest coupe that Mercedes-Benz makes could also arguably be said to be the best coupe, at least from the point of view of an enthusiastic driver. This latest generation C-Class Coupe targets two-door versions of BMW's 4 Series and Audi's A5 more effectively than the Three-Pointed Star has ever managed to do before.
For the time being, there are six engines available for this C-Class Coupe. Many will want a diesel, the two options being a 170bhp C220d variant available with either six-speed manual transmission or Mercedes' smooth 7G-Tronic auto 'box. Or a 204bhp C250d model only offered with the auto 'box. Both mainstream diesel derivatives come with the option of 4MATIC 4WD if you want it. The petrol variants start with the 184bhp C200 model, which likewise gets manual and auto options. The pokier alternative is an auto-only C300 derivative which offers 245bhp. It slots in just below the 4WD Mercedes-AMG C 43 4MATIC variant, which offers a twin turbo petrol V6 putting out 367bhp. At the top of the range is the fearsome C63 AMG model, with a 4.0-litre V8 Biturbo engine offering either 476 or 510bhp.
Whatever your choice of variant, you should find that this C-Class Coupe should certainly handle its power better than it did before: it is, after all, lighter and stiffer thanks to intelligent lightweight construction with a higher proportion of aluminium. Dynamics are further aided by a freshly developed 4-link front axle which enables sporty axle kinematics for plenty of grip and high lateral stability. As a result, the suspension responds more sensitively to steering movements and should allow for a sportier, more agile driving style in this coupe. The 'Agility Control' suspension system that many buyers will want will help in this regard and Mercedes is also offering firmer sports suspension or AIRMATIC air suspension for those who want it. The AIRMATIC set-up offers continuously adjustable damping, so you can set the car up for the road you're on and the mood you're on.
The styling of the C-class Coupe is a mix of the new and the traditional. The latest Mercedes family face is grafted onto what is a very handsome but rather generic coupe shape. There's a sporty, striking front section featuring a diamond-style radiator grille and a long bonnet, with character creases flowing into a bold and powerful-looking rear end incorporating familiar best coupe genes expected with Mercedes. A high beltline and frameless doors with free-standing exterior mirrors aim to underscore the sporty character. One particular highlight is the long-drawn-out dropping line typical of a coupe. In contrast to the C-Class Saloon, the dropping line extends further past the rear wheel arch. To underscore the Coupe's sporty disposition, the suspension is 15 millimetres lower than that of the Saloon.
This C-class Coupe model has an 80mm longer wheelbase than its predecessor and is 95mm longer and 40mm wider. That means a more spacious cabin, with extra shoulder room, elbow room and headroom in all seats, something that you'd want from one of the best coupes. Flowing forms characterise the centre console as well as the door and rear side panelling, which smoothly merge into one another to emphasise the coupe character. There are front sports seats specifically designed for this Coupe variant and featuring automatic belt feeders for added convenience. The choice of materials and the finish have a hand-crafted feel with high-class appeal and aim to deliver a fresh take on the modern luxury coupe.
No luxury brand - come to think of it, no other brand of any kind - offers a wider choice when it comes to coupe motoring than Mercedes-Benz. This C-Class Coupe may be the marque's most affordable offering when it comes to this kind of car, but it still feels of very high quality indeed. But that you would expect. What might be more of a surprise is just how satisfying a driver's machine this model can be, especially in its more powerful forms thanks to clever suspension and a hi-tech range of engines.
The top C63 AMG variant is a potential BMW M4-beater and you can get much of its capability in the 2.0-litre C300 model too. Even more affordable versions - the volume diesel variants for example - can be remarkably rewarding on the right road, even if the sporty AMG add-ons do slightly affect running costs. You could argue that many potential Mercedes buyers won't especially value this car's more dynamic repertoire - and you might be right. Important though, we think, for the Stuttgart brand to show that it was capable of providing it. If that was the intention, then the job's been done well.Click here to find out more about our Mercedes-Benz C Class Coupe Review range
BMW 4 Series Coupe Review
BMW's 4 Series Coupe has proved to be quite a success story for the Munich marque, accounting for around 25% of sales in the 4 Series model range, a line-up that has shifted over 400,000 units since its original introduction in 2013. Now, there's a significantly revised version of this two-door coupe.
Dynamic changes made to this improved coupe mean stiffer suspension and an upgraded steering set-up. These measures have resulted in a tangible improvement in both lateral and longitudinal handling properties, regardless of the load on board. The upshot is reduced roll, more neutral responses when driving at the limit, even greater straight-line stability and the wonderfully precise steering for which BMW is renowned. This applies to the standard suspension on this coupe, as well as the M Sport suspension and Adaptive suspension.
As ever, the oily bits are, somewhat predictably, shared with the 3 Series, as it would be cost prohibitive to do anything otherwise. The biggest seller continues to be the 190bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre diesel in the 420d variant, with comes with either two or four-wheel drive. Above that come the six-cylinder diesel models. There are rear wheel drive and xDrive 4WD versions of the 258bhp 430d, before you get to the 435d xDrive diesel range-topper with a hefty 313bhp at its disposal.
In the petrol line-up, things kick off with the base four cylinder 184bhp 2.0-litre unit found in the 420i, which is slightly more efficient than it used to be and, as before, comes in rear wheel drive and xDrive 4WD guises. The pokier version of this powerplant these days carries a '430i' badge and has a 252bhp output, with torque rated at 350Nm, making possible a rest to 62mph time of just 5.9s. That makes it difficult to imagine why you'd want a six-cylinder petrol model, but if you still do, there's a 326bhp '440i' variant. Remaining at the top of the range is the twin turbo six cylinder 431bhp M4 super-coupe.
The changes made to this revised 4 Series Coupe are really quite subtle. If you know the car well, you'll spot the new twin LED headlights that now come as standard. An even more distinctive 'Icon Adaptive LED headlight' package is optional. Another frontal change is found in the central air intake which has an aperture that increases in size towards the outer edges, adding a more imposing presence and greater sense of width to the entire nose section. Otherwise, this coupe has all the predictable top coupe design elements we've seen so often over the years from BMW - the short overhangs, the long bonnet, the set-back passenger compartment, the shallow frameless side windows leading into the signature Hofmeister kink on each C-pillar and a flowing roofline that offers up a low, stretched silhouette.
Take a seat inside this coupe and the cabin holds no great surprises if you're familiar with BMW's current design language. A few detail changes have been made with extra splashes of chrome here and there but otherwise, not much has changed. You sit lower than you would in a 3 Series, but you're not going to need re-training when it comes to operating the dash controls or the infotainment system. There's a robotised arm for the front seat belts and the door cards and seats are 4 Series-specific even in this coupe version. The rear retains individual seats with a divider down the middle, which means the 4 Series is a strict four-seater. There's a 445-litre boot.
So, is this BMW 4 Series still one of the top coupes that does it all, the class benchmark, the go-to-choice in its segment? The answer's probably yes. Overall, there's a sustained level of excellence shot throughout this coupe that Audi A5 and Mercedes C-Class Coupe rivals can't quite match, something especially evident when it comes to handling dynamics.
There's a levity about this 4 Series coupe, a certain joy you get in driving it that the other best coupes can't quite match. Great then, that it does all the sensible stuff really well too. You get impressive safety systems, a big boot, plenty of rear legroom, excellent day to day running costs and residual values that are markedly superior to this coupe's two key rivals. Which all helps your conscience. Why? Because this is a car that, exactly because of those attributes, you can buy and use - and use hard - without that nagging sense of guilt that you may have over-indulged yourself. In short, you'd like one.Click here to find out more about our BMW 4 Series Coupe Review range