The good-looking sports coupe could become more attractive

It’s been four years since the Lexus RC has had any significant changes, but recent spy shots of an RC test mule suggests that updates are on the way for the Japanese automaker’s resident sports coupe. The spy photos don’t reveal much in the way of significant changes, but certain sections of the prototype are wrapped in camouflage, an indication that the expected updates are being concealed for the time being. Still, it looks like the Lexus RC is about to get a much-needed facelift, something that should’ve happened a long time ago.

2020 Lexus RC Exterior

2020 Lexus RC Spyshots Exterior
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The headlights, in particular, appear to have a new design that’s cut differently from the one we have in the current model

There’s nothing outwardly different about the Lexus RC prototype and the current model that we have, but if you look closer, you’ll notice that there are a few updated styling cues on the test mule that are barely distinguishable because they’re being hidden by the fancy wraps.

The headlights, in particular, appear to have a new design that’s cut differently from the one we have in the current model. It’s hard to say at the moment if it’s a better look on the RC, though they are reminiscent of the ones found on the LC. The boomerang LED lights are also gone on the test mule. The prototype for the Lexus RC F Sport that we saw a few weeks ago also didn’t have the unmistakable LEDs, replaced instead by simpler horizontal strips. It doesn’t look like the RC is getting any replacements, but it’s also possible that they’re just being covered up by the wraps. The front spindle grille remains largely intact, though the bottom section appears to have been given courtesy updates to make it look sharper. Changes are afoot in the front bumper, too, specifically with the different air intakes.

2020 Lexus RC Spyshots Exterior
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The rear bumper looks more pronounced than the one on the current model.

Move to the back, and we see changes to the taillights and the rear bumper, the latter looking more pronounced than the one on the current model.

These updates point to the new Lexus RC getting the tried-and-tested nip-and-tuck styling. It’s hard to tell what the finished product is going to look like, but given that the RC hasn’t changed is appearance since 2014, these updates could be welcome changes for the sports coupe.

2020 Lexus RC Interior

2015 - 2016 Lexus RC High Resolution Interior
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The RC’s interior has never been the best-looking interior in its segment

We don’t get to see the interior of the Lexus RC prototype, but given that the new model itself is a mid-cycle facelift, it’s likely that most of the interior details will soldier on in the updated model. That scenario has its pros and cons. The RC’s interior has never been the best-looking interior in its segment. It lacks the visual refinement that models like the BMW 4 Series and the Mercedes C-Class Coupe have.

That said, give credit to Lexus because it knows how to dress up the RC in style. The genuine shimamoku wood trim is a particular highlight inside the coupe. The number of premium leather options also enables aesthetic variety, and the whole layout is as clean and stylish as you’d expect from the luxury brand.

I just wish that Lexus didn’t use too much plastic in the cabin. The material is fine on more conventional models, but not on a Lexus sports coupe that’s competing against Germany’s finest. Hopefully, the updated model addresses some of these issues. Making these improvements will go a long way in establishing the RS as a legitimate competitor to the 4 Series and C-Class Coupe.

2020 Lexus RC Drivetrain

2015 - 2016 Lexus RC Drivetrain
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The same options should still be available, including a base 2.0-liter turbocharged unit and the same 5.0-liter V-8

Don’t get your hopes up when it comes to engine choices. The same options should still be available, including a base 2.0-liter turbocharged unit and the same 5.0-liter V-8 engine that we’ve all come to love in the sports coupe’s F performance variant. The four-cylinder engine produces 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque in its current guise while the V-8 engine has 467 horsepower and 389 pound-feet of torque.

If there are changes on these fronts, look for them to happen in the respective outputs of these engines. Specific numbers have yet to be released, but the new output on the new LC with the same V-8 unit — 471 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque — suggests that similar improvements could be on its way for the new RC F version of the sports car.

As far as the base level is concerned, power improvements to around 250 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque aren’t out of the question.

2020 Lexus RC Prices

2020 Lexus RC Spyshots Exterior
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Pricing for the updated Lexus RC hasn’t been announced, but the current model starts at $40,650 for the base RC 300 RWD. The prices steadily increase when you opt for higher spec models, culminating in the RC 350 F Sport AWD, which sells for $49,435. With the updated RC on the horizon, expect the prices to increase, as well.

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 4er 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. The latter is regarded as one of the best cars in the segment, and if the RC wants to make waves, it needs to become a legitimate threat to the 4 Series. Does it have enough with the facelift version to do it? Only time will tell.

Pricing for the BMW 4 Series sits in the vicinity of around $42,000 for the 430i and $49,500 for the 440i.

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 gives 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.

Read our full review on the 2018 Audi A5.

Conclusion

Since taking shape in 2014, the current-generation Lexus RC has had an uphill battle competing against the likes of the BMW 4 Series 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. This expected facelift, for example, should go 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 A5, but it’s getting there. If this updated model ends up being as good as we think it is, it might get there sooner than we thought.

For Lexus’ sake, I hope that’s the case.

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

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Read more Lexus news.

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