The Lexus RC coupe is less than a year away from landing in Australia, the local division of the luxury car brand hopes, with petrol hybrid and V6-only power initially destined for the Japanese BMW 4 Series rival.
Following its online reveal earlier this month, the Lexus RC coupe made its official public debut at today's Tokyo motor show, confirming a sleeker profile, longer nose and sharper lines than the Lexus IS sedan on which it's based.
Lexus’ RC coupe does, however, score a 70mm shorter wheelbase than the IS sedan, yet with 30mm extra body width it shares its front track with the larger GS sedan.
The RC coupe also sits 35mm lower than the IS, although it inherits its interior design but for the addition of a Lexus Remote Touch surface controller, which is set to replace the mouse controller used by current models. Lexus also claims the RC coupe is the first model to score an upgraded blind spot monitor that can detect vehicles approaching from a higher speed and from a greater distance than that of current systems.
Confirmed for production, the dual injection – port and direct – 3.5-litre petrol V6 produces 234kW of power at 6400rpm and 380Nm of torque at 4800rpm, just 1kW/2Nm more than the same engine makes in the IS350.
It teams with an eight-speed Sports Direct Shift automatic transmission with steering wheel paddles, derived from the Lexus IS F.
An alternate drivetrain available, as the display car showcases, is a dual injection 2.5-litre four-cylinder and 105kW electric motor combination, allied with an automatic contiuously-variable transmission (CVT) also available in the IS300h.
In some markets all-wheel drive will be available, but locally drive will be sent only to the rear wheels.
Lexus will also produce a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder engine for installation in various models, as showcased in the Lexus LF-NX at Tokyo, but refused to commit to when it will arrive or the outputs it will deliver.
At the other end of the range, an RC F high-performance coupe is expected at the Detroit motor show in January, with Lexus IS and RC chief engineer Junichi Furuyama confirming the model’s existance by stating the design changes needed to accommodate a V8 engine.
“To give a V8, we need some changes, especially in the engine room,” he begins.
“For example, IS F has a unique [bonnet with bulge]. The V8 is very big. This cannot accommodate a V8, so we need to change the styling”.
Furuyama-san also commented that with the RC “we dared to use ‘sexy’ as our design catchphrase because the various images the word brings to mind represent a frank expression of the new frontiers the RC opens for the Lexus brand.
“Motoring enthusiasts have always aspired to own coupes for one reason: coupes look cool – sexy even. We developed RC to deliver extra response that exhilarates rather than overwhelms drivers, in keeping with the true spirit of Japanese hospitality, or omotenashi.”
But he also admitted that although the Lexus RC is being touted as a production model, “we need a little adjustment for mass production” as “there is some difficult portions to produce”. He cited the prominent side character crease as an example of an area which may be changed by the time the Lexus RC reaches production next year.
Despite its slinky proportions, the Lexus RC coupe will also be heavier than its IS sedan stablemate, mainly a consequence of extra underbody bracing that improves torsional rigidity compared with the IS sedan in a bid to – along with a wider track – further improve dynamics.
But Furuyama-san also revealed the extra under-body bracing makes the RC coupe ready to transform into a convertible, all but confirming that a drop-top to replace the ageing Lexus IS250C is in the pipeline.
Lexus Australia is keen to get the RC coupe to market shortly after the Japanese launch in the fourth quarter 2014, and before the new year.