Time is running out for all-petrol and all-diesel drivetrains, so it’s high time you considered picking up a hybrid motor of your own – why not try the Lexus RC300h F Sport on for size?
With a 2040 deadline set for the UK’s ban on petrol and diesel cars, we’re expecting to see a huge boom in uptake of hybrid and electric cars.
One of the big challenges car makers have faced is trying to convince ardent petrolheads to make the switch, with hybrids lacking the cool factor that thunderous, gas-guzzling engines provide.
But those days are gone, and hybrid cars can be just as formidable – and perhaps even more moreso, by some measures – than their all-combustion counterparts.
Helping lead the charge of hybrids with sex appeal is the Lexus RC300h F Sport – so here are four reasons why this clean, green sports car could convert even the most reluctant hybrid abstainee.
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1. Lexus RC300h F Sport Design: It looks like a proper sports car
When you say “hybrid”, most people will immediately think of a Toyota Prius. What they probably don’t think of is a slick, tapered coupé like the Lexus RC300h F Sport.
But this hybrid Lexus is a sports car through and through. The rear of the car rises in a gentle curve, with the roof sloping more sharply into the windscreen, finally tapering out across a long and meaty bonnet. This front-heavy design means you’re about as close to the front of the car as you are to the back, when sitting in the driver’s seat.
The sides of the car are slightly curved, but jut sharply outwards as they panelling reaches the floor. Similarly, the curved bonnet benefits from sporty cut-outs that flank the trademark Lexus spindle grille. The headlights are slim and pointed, adding to the angular aesthetic.
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All of this edging-out of the curves gives the Lexus RC300h F Sport a seriously aggressive look – a prowling racer that could tempt anyone for a spin.
2. Lexus RC300h F Sport Performance: It doesn’t skimp on thrills
It’s a sports car, so you’d expect it to go fast – and it certainly does. With a listed top speed of 118mph and a nippy 0-62mph in 8.6 seconds, you’ll be racing around with ease. But the advantage comes courtesy of the hybrid engine, which allows seriously responsive acceleration.
The Lexus RC300h F Sport features a four-cylinder, 16-valve, 2.5-litre (2494cc) engine with an electric CVT transmission, serving up 178bhp at 6,000rpm.
Add in rear-wheel drive and a low-to-the-ground driving position, and you’ve got a seriously sporty motor that feels fast and handles well on the road.
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It’s worth noting at this point that Lexus hybrids work slightly differently than offerings from some other car makers. The Lexus RC300h uses a full hybrid system, which means you can choose to run the car solely on electric power, if you wish – more on that later.
Related: Jaguar E-Pace
3. Lexus RC300h F Sport Interior: The hi-tech luxury cabin is irresistible
The interior of the car is sure to be an all-out winner for car fans. Lexus says that the “driver’s cockpit design, with dedicated trim and high-contrast colours, emphasises the RC’s fun-to-drive character”, and it’s hard to disagree.
Black panelling with red trim, plus crimson seating make for a sinister and sporty aesthetic. The Lexus RC300h F Sport seats are low and electronically operated for perfect adjustment – just make sure you can see over the long bonnet.
The central console features a dedicated display for navigation, audio, and comfort settings. To operate this, you simply use a tactile touchpad which lives just in front of the gear stick. When you slide your finger around it, you’ll get very obvious haptic feedback, which is very helpful when trying to change settings while driving.
There are also some fun motifs, including a physical clock built into the centre of the dash, and a kick-activated parking-brake that means you don’t even have to take your hands off the wheel to start moving.
It also comes with the usual features you’d expect, including automatic windscreen wipers that activate when rain is detected, cruise control, and a rear parking camera that helps you reverse into tight spaces.
4. Lexus RC300h F Sport Price: It doesn’t break the bank – to buy, or to run
So why buy this over an F-Type, or any other all-fuel drivetrain coupé? Well, the plain fact is that hybrid vehicles are seriously efficient to run, and have low carbon emissions to boot – we’re talking 116g/km of CO2 for this particular model.
The advantage of the Lexus is that the car will often run on electric power of its own volition. When this happens, you’ll see a green EV icon light up on the instrument display, which means your car is no longer consuming fuel.
Better still, you can also hit a physical EV button to activate electric mode manually too. This means you can drive the car at low speeds and over short distances with zero emissions and fuel consumption – perfect for slow-moving traffic.
To activate EV mode, you’ll need to make sure there’s sufficient charge in the hybrid battery. Your use of the EV mode will also depend on driving factors, like smooth and gentle use of the throttle, and avoiding power-thirsty features like air conditioning.
Related: Toyota C-HR Hybrid
To maximise the charge in your battery, the best tactic is to brake gently when stopping at, let’s say, traffic lights. This allows the regenerative braking system to re-gain more electric power that would otherwise have been lost.
It might sound tricky, but the instrument panel has a really simple display that shows you when you’re driving economically. If you slip into the “power” band then it means you’re not driving efficiently, and so you might not be able to activate the EV button any time soon.
All this means that the Lexus offers a very respectable 56.6mpg in terms of combined and extra-urban fuel efficiency, and a slightly lower 55.3mpg for urban driving. That’s marginally better than the 41-47mpg combined fuel economy offered by a Mazda MX-5, and a big leap upwards from the 25-39mpg offered by a Jaguar F-Type. Although granted, the Lexus won’t go as fast as an F-Type…
This car is also fairly cheap as far as sporty options go. The on-the-road price for this particular model costs £39,645, although the version we drove had F Sport White Paint (£625) and premium navigation (£1,995), bringing the total price up to £42,265. That means it’s more expensive than the MX-5 (£22,195), but a little cheaper than the new entry-level 2.0 litre Jaguar F-Type (£50,795).
All in all, this car is a relatively cost-effective way to get those sporty thrills, while helping out the environment and future-proofing your driveway to boot.
Here are some more shots to whet your appetite:
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