Tuesday marked the U.S. debut of the new Lexus RC, a luxury sports coupe that promises to bring more performance to the brand. The RC was first unveiled last month in Tokyo, but Lexus showed off two variants at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit: the comfortable and sporty V6-powered RC 350 and the hot (450-plus horsepower) V8-powered RC F, pictured above.
The RC represents a bit of a new direction for Lexus. Toyota's (NYSE:TM) luxury brand has been a success -- at least in the U.S. -- since it was established in 1989. But the brand has always been seen as a bit one-dimensional. Unlike BMW (NASDAQOTH:BAMXF) and Mercedes-Benz, which have managed to combine luxury with sporty handling for decades, Lexus' sedans were seen as a bit short on the "fun" side of the equation.
Lexus' products have always been extremely well built, reliable, comfortable, and quiet -- but sporty? A few here and there have offered the sporting driver some fun, but for the most part, Lexus has left that to the Germans.
As a company, Toyota is out to make its products more engaging, and CEO Akio Toyoda has prodded his design teams to put forward more exiting, edgy ideas. The RC is part of that effort.
The Fool's John Rosevear and Rex Moore had a close-up look at the two RC variants in Detroit. While Lexus hasn't released pricing yet, the RC looks like an intriguing alternative to the BMW 6 Series, and the RC F might pull a few Corvette buyers away as well. The car's nose is a bit jarring, but the side profile gives an attractive GT look -- and the Lexus-plush interior looked spot-on to us.
Check out our report in the short video below. Then scroll down to leave a comment and let us know what you think: Is the new Lexus a winner, or is it destined to be outclassed by BMW's offerings?