• 2020 Lexus RC

Revised exterior, same engines

Introduced in 2014 as a spiritual successor to the SC, the RC is Lexus’ modern take on German luxury coupes like the BMW 4 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe, and Audi A5. Four years old as of 2018, the RC was updated to mid-cycle specs for 2019 and showcased at the Paris Motor Show.

Somewhat surprisingly given what was revealed through spy shots, the facelifted RC boasts significant upgrades on the outside. Lexus also improved the interior with premium features and revised the chassis for a sportier ride. Overall, the Japanese used the bigger LC coupe as inspiration, but skipped the drivetrain department, leaving the old engines unchanged.

2020 Lexus RC Exterior

  • Redesigned grille
  • Aggressive splitter
  • LC-inspired bumper corners
  • All-new headlamps
  • Revised mirror caps
  • Bigger taillights
2020 Lexus RC Exterior
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Although it’s just a mid-cycle refresh, the exterior boasts notable changes, most of them inspired by the flagship LC model.

This comes as a surprise, as the camouflaged prototypes suggested Lexus made only mild upgrades.

Up front, Lexus redesigned the familiar Spindle grille to include a new mesh, while the square cutouts at the bottom were removed for a more cohesive look. The psychedelic looking mesh now stretches over the entire area between the sharp-edged grille frame. Lexus also raised the bottom frame of the grille to make way for a slim vent and a more aggressive splitter at the bottom.

2020 Lexus RC Exterior
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The corners of the bumper were redesigned too, and it’s pretty obvious that the flagship LC coupe was used as inspiration. Sure, the RC doesn’t have the same trim element that trickles down from the headlamps toward the splitter, but the bumper was reshaped to suggest a similar design. The outlets are a bit larger too and feed more air to the brakes.

The headlamps mark the biggest departure from the previous RC, as Lexus removed the hockey stick LED lights under the main lamps.

The daytime running lights are now integrated into the headlamps, which are notably bigger and feature a more organic design. Also, the traditional round bulbs were replaced by a stack of three LED lights placed toward the outer edge. The V-shaped LEDs that point toward the grille also give the coupe a more aggressive look when the lights are turned on. They also go well with the sharp design of the grille.

Not much has changed around the sides save for the aerodynamically optimized mirror caps and revised wheels. But this isn’t a problem, as the RC has one of the hottest profiles thanks to its prominent beltline, muscular rear haunches, and deeply sculpted side skirts.

2020 Lexus RC Exterior
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Bigger changes are noticeable around back, starting with the significantly larger taillights.

Their outer and inner edges look more refined, while the latter extends all the way into the frame of the license plate recess. The center part of the taillight also extends toward the bumper, which mimics the design of the front bumper thanks to its bigger, deeper vents.

All told, the facelift RC looks surprisingly different and stands out when compared to the German luxury coupes from this segment.

2020 Lexus RC Interior

  • Brushed finish trim
  • Bigger knee pads
  • Analog clock from LC
  • New aluminum trim
  • New upholstery colors
2020 Lexus RC
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Cabin upgrades are far from spectacular, but Lexus made a few notable changes.

The heater control and audio panels now have a brushed finish for a more upscale look, while the knee pads that flank the center console are larger and raised higher for increased comfort.

There’s also a reshaped driver’s palm rest with a stitching pattern, the kind of attention to detail you want to see in a premium vehicle. Lexus also added an analog clock identical to the one in the LC high on the dashboard. As it turns out, Lexus wants to make this a distinctive feature for its coupe models.

You can now choose between five trim options, including real aluminum Naguri and brushed metal. The same options are available for the F Sport model. New interior colors include Mustard, which features subtle yellow accents on a black background and Ochre, borrowed from the flagship LC coupe. In all, there are seven interior color combinations for both the standard and F Sport models.

2020 Lexus RC
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The fact that Lexus didn’t make too many changes is both good and bad.

The good news is that the cabin layout still looks modern and stands out when compared to other coupes in this niche.

The squared off center stack, the angled center console, and the infotainment display mounted deep into the dash are pretty much unique in this segment. On the other hand, the Japanese coupe lacks the visual refinement you get in the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe and Audi A5, while some of the plastic trim is much too obvious. Still, the RC has what it takes to soldier on for a few more years.

2020 Lexus RC Drivetrain

  • Same engines
  • Same output
  • Retuned suspension
  • Sharper steering
  • Grippier tires
2020 Lexus RC Exterior
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Lexus made a big deal in explaining that the RC adopted the "sharper and more graceful" driving concept that defines the LC flagship. The coupe is supposedly "thoroughly fun to drive," but the upgrades aren’t as extensive as Lexus wants us to believe.

The company only made some fine adjustments to the suspension system and the powertrain to sharpen the handling characteristics, while obtaining a more stable ride quality.

The revised aerodynamics contribute to this as well, as do the higher grip tires and the new shock absorbers. The latter provides higher damping force from low suspension stroke speeds and work in conjunction with stiffer bushings.

Unfortunately, these upgrades aren’t backed by more powerful engines. The RC continues with the same drivetrain options, including the base turbocharged, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine rated at 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The intermediate model gets its juice from the same V-6 engine with 311 horsepower, while the range-topping coupe comes with 467 horsepower and 389 pound-feet of torque thanks to the 5.0-liter V-8 - one of the last surviving naturally aspirated V-8 mills on the market.

2020 Lexus RC Prices

2020 Lexus RC Exterior
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Pricing for the updated Lexus RC hasn’t been announced, but it should remain relatively unchanged after the upgrade. If anything, Lexus could add an extra $1,000 to $2,000 to the old sticker, depending on the model. The outgoing RC starts from $40,640 in base guise and from $64,650 in RC F trim.

2020 Lexus RC Competition

BMW 4 Series

2018 BMW 4 Series Coupe High Resolution Exterior
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The Lexus RC has no shortage in competition. The BMW 4 Series is one of those competitors, and in true Bimmer fashion, it’s offering the coupe with an abundance of options, including as many as 31 different model and powertrain variations. It would take a while to run down the whole list of 4 Series versions, but the important thing to remember is that in terms of power, gas versions generate anywhere from 184 horsepower for the base 420i to 326 horsepower for the 440i.

If you prefer diesel versions of the 4 Series, you have plenty of choices there, as well. The base 420d, for example, comes with 190 horsepower on tap while the top-of-the-line 435d xDrive will give you 313 horsepower to play with. The Lexus RC has its hands full with the BMW 4 Series for good reason as the latter is regarded as one of the best cars in the segment. What’s more, BMW just unleashed a brand-new 3 Series for the 2019 model year, and a new-generation 4 Series with better technology is underway. Pricing for the BMW 4 Series starts from $44,800 for the 430i and from $53,200 for the range-topping 440i xDrive.

Read our full review on the 2018 BMW 4 Series.

Audi A5

2017 Audi A5
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The Audi A5 is another rival the Lexus RC has to contend with. Just like the 4 Series, the A5’s German roots give it the kind of equity that the RC is still trying to earn. The Lexus should get to that point eventually, but it will still have to deal with an Audi that has its own share of features and options. Under the hood of the A5 sits a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that’s turbocharged to produce 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. There aren’t that many engine options available to the A5 as there are to the 4 Series, but there are places in the world where the A5 is available with a 2.0-liter diesel burner, a 3.0-liter diesel, and a high-spec 250-horsepower 2.0-liter gasoline engine. Pricing for the Audi A5 starts at around $42,000. The A5 retails from $42,800 in base Premium trim but fetches $50,400 before options when ordered in the range-topping Prestige variant.

Read our full review on the 2018 Audi A5.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe

2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe
- image 640374

Just like its German counterparts, the C-Class Coupe is available with a range of gasoline and diesel engines, boasts state-of-the-art tech, and looks damn sexy on the outside. However, the two-door comes with just one non-AMG drivetrain in the U.S. It goes by the name C300 and uses a 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 255 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. If you need more oomph, the AMG C43 version, powered by a 3.0-liter V-6, generates a solid 362 horsepower. If you want an alternative to the RC F, the AMG C63 model comes with a 4.0-liter V-8 rated at 469 horsepower. Opt for the S model and output jumps to an unparalleled 503 horsepower. The base C300 model costs $43,800 before options, while the range-topping AMG C63 S retails from a whopping $75,500.

Read our full reviews of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe and the Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe.

Read our full review on the 2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe


2020 Lexus RC Exterior
- image 798507

Since taking shape in 2014, the current-generation Lexus RC has had an uphill battle competing against the likes of the BMW 4 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe, and the Audi A5. It’s done well for itself considering the competition, but it still has plenty to prove in the face of its rivals. The good news is that Lexus has done a good job keeping the RC competitive in a number of ways. The facelift goes a long way in refreshing the coupe to a newer audience. Combine that with the coupe’s performance chops, and you have a car that’s slowly becoming more and more of a threat to the establishment. It might take some time before the RC can be considered in equal footing with the 4 Series or C-Class Coupe, but it’s getting there. This update gives me hope that the next-generation RC will finally have what it takes to steal a lot of customers from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi.

  • Leave it
    • Interior materials could improve
    • Competition is fierce and dangerous
    • Still doesn’t have that enduring quality

Further reading

2015 - 2016 Lexus RC High Resolution Exterior
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Read up on the previous 2015-2018 Lexus RC

2019 Lexus RC F Sport Exterior Spyshots
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Read our full speculative review on the 2019 Lexus RC F Sport.

2020 Lexus RC F Track Edition Exterior Spyshots
- image 787985

Read our full speculative review on the 2020 Lexus RC F GT.

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Read more Lexus news.

Ciprian Florea
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read full bio
About the author

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