If you were hoping for a revelation, you’ll likely be disappointed. This is an update to be filed under ‘minor and largely inconsequential’.
Styling updates for the RC for 2019 are largely restricted to a pair of intricate new LED headlights, reshaped tail-lights and a pair of resculptured bumpers. That’s not accounting for some small aerodynamic tweaks, modestly improving an already attractive design bolstered by a range of pleasingly bright colour choices.
The interior is similarly spot-the-difference. A smattering of posher materials adds to what was already (save for a few cheap details) a solid, plushly trimmed cockpit, while tech upgrades include a more comprehensive suite of driver assist systems and optional luxuries like a 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound system.
Sumptuous yet decently supportive seats and a great stereo don’t make up for the foibles that remain, like a touchpad-operated infotainment system that’s so fiddly it should surely be illegal to operate on the move, and a cramped, claustrophobic rear cabin.
Elsewhere, there are chassis upgrades such as new shock absorbers and retuned steering. Neither seems to have done an awful lot to alter the RC’s dynamics: if you concentrate really hard, the low-speed ride has improved, but this is still not a coupé that relishes being driven quickly, with steering that (oddly) feels lazier than the front-driven ES, a relative shortfall of front-end grip and a lack of agility due to its substantial mass – the RC is heavier than the ES and carries a great deal more flab than almost every rival.
It’s more within its comfort level when the pace is dropped, allowing you to enjoy low noise levels and a nicely resolved ride. Which is fine in essence – not everybody wants to drive everywhere with tyres begging for mercy – but a disappointment when rivals from BMW and Audi are within scratching distance in terms of comfort but notably more incisive when the going gets twisty.
The petrol-electric powertrain (identical in capacity to that of the ES but the older, third-generation variant) is unchanged, and remains completely at odds with the sporting premise Lexus’s marketing materials shout about.
It excels around town, being far quieter and smoother than an equivalent diesel, and is well-mannered at a cruise. But it felt wholly out of its depth on the twisting Spanish roads Lexus launched the car on, needing to be worked hard to make any sort of progress and complaining vocally when asked to do so as the CVT gearbox sends revs soaring uncomfortably high.