By on October 26, 2017


With the aggressively styled LC 500 garnering most of the Lexus coupe headlines, what with its eight-cylinder engine and look-over-here sheetmetal, its RC stablemate often gets short shrift. Meanwhile, the more attainable Toyota 86 (formerly the Scion FR-S) seems to make headlines for not offering extra horsepower than for anything else.

America is not a forgiving place for coupes these days.

Still, which of these rear-drive Toyota-built coupes holds the most appeal to a buyer? The 86’s handling and youthful intentions aside, it’s arguably the RC, as Lexus’s coupe offers more interior room, horsepower, and clout. Even the base RC 200t, which becomes the RC 300 for 2018, brings a 241-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter to the table, handily besting the 86’s turboless 2.0.

Of course, it’s not really a fair comparison. The price gulf between the two models is quite significant. Or is it?

Not if you’re thinking of taking out a lease on outgoing 2017 models. According to CarsDirect, some existing lease deals narrow the price gap to insignificant levels, despite the $16,000 window sticker difference.

In Los Angeles, for example, a Toyota 86 (carrying an MSRP of $27,840) can be leased for $349 over a 36-month term with $1,999 due at signing. At the other end of the dealership, a Lexus RC 200t (MSRP of $44,285) can become your driveway companion for $299 a month over the same term, only with $3,999 due at signing. That works out to $405 a month for the 86, and $410 a month for the RC.

How was Toyota able to level its two-door playing field? Not surprisingly, incentives play a big role. The RC boasts $4,500 in lease cash, while the 86 sports zero dollars on its hood. Also, the RC’s lower money factor essentially equates to a lease with a 0-percent interest rate.

As Toyota continues to avoid incentives to move the 86 off dealer lots, sales continue a downward slide. U.S. sales of the co-developed 2+2 sat at 530 vehicles last month, a 19-percent decrease from September 2016. Year-to-date, Toyota 86 sales are down just over 4 percent from 2016 levels.

The Lexus RC, which debuted for the 2015 model year, sells in remarkably similar numbers as its corporate cousin. September sales of the RC line were 11 percent lower, year-over-year, with sales across the first nine months of 2017 ringing in 38-percent lower than last year’s tally.

[Images: Toyota]

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29 Comments on “Two Classes of Toyota-built Sports Coupe and the $5 Difference...”

  • avatar


    2 years ago when i was looking for a sports coupe, the RC-350 had insane lease prices. Like $600 a month.

    Hooefully the deals stay good till next year when my ATS lease ends.

  • avatar

    Since leasing isn’t on my radar, this means little to me.

    From a marketing standpoint, the best solution is to stick the 2.0L Turbo from the RC in the 86 and call it good. I’d personally be happy with the current n/a engine, I just wish it wasn’t a boxer. I’d be happier with a smoother Toyota 4 pot, although packaging concerns may make that impossible.

    • 0 avatar

      Why is it that virtually every “yes, but” comment on the brz/86 amounts to “completely change its character and design intent, and that’ll make it better?

      I get that not everybody likes it. I don’t get why so many people refuse to understand that it is what it is on purpose, not as an oversight.

      • 0 avatar

        At least in this case, the idea is “get rid of the awful engine, replace it with something else from the parts bin.” The Toyobaru still has that weird torque curve – ~200hp is plenty for what it should be, but the power band serves to make it feel slower than it is at times, and you’d think with the combined parts bins and engineering expertise of Toyota and Subaru, they could work that out.

        • 0 avatar

          Why it’s almost as though the people who engineered it, and approved it for sale, have different priorities than you.

          Again, it is what it is on purpose. If you don’t like the particular set of compromises it represents, that doesn’t make it wrong. It means you aren’t the intended customer. Do you seriously think the people building the car aren’t aware of whatever parts bin powertrain they have that you think would be “better”?

          • 0 avatar

            So what’s the reason for tuning it the way they did? Don’t about 95% of the reviews (even the ones that otherwise love it) complain about that? I mean, I like small, nimble cars, and I like the Toyobaru plenty, so if I’m not the intended consumer, who is?

          • 0 avatar

            Because everyone that it was originally intended for already bought one.

            But if there are people who want more power and they don’t want to go after that slice of the market? That’s fine, if they’re happy with their 500 a month sale number.

          • 0 avatar

            Lol, so the people who complain about 63 hp in a Ford Aspire should just STFU because “it is what it is on purpose”?

            I had the same argument about the Honda CR-Z. I get why people wanted more, but I also get why Honda built it how they built it. What do they have to show for it? Absolutely nothing. So, they can stubbornly build it how it’s “supposed” to be and watch it stick like glue to the showroom floor, or they can respond to the feedback and bring a product that will satisfy the demands of their customers.

            There’s nothing wrong with pointing out where there is room for improvement.

            Personally, (AS I’M PRETTY SURE I SAID) I don’t care about having it turbocharged (I would just prefer a decent Toyota engine instead of the boxer), but since evidently a lot of people would love more power in an otherwise great car, I don’t see what’s wrong with giving in and giving people what they want. That’s why, from a marketing standpoint, it seems obvious. “You want a faster car? Go buy a Mustang!” and so people do.

            They can just keep burying their heads in the sand until its finally killed off as a spectacular failure from a sales perspective. Then it’ll be “all we do is put body kits on gutless Corollas because OBVIOUSLY NOBODY WANTS A TRULY SPORTY CAR! See? We built one! And lost our ass on it!”

            Yeah, meanwhile, truly sporty cars built by people who do listen to their customers do sell enough to justify their existence. This isn’t the kind of market that accepts cars easily, so with that in mind, why handicap it and then wonder why the sales are what they are?

          • 0 avatar

            “Lol, so the people who complain about 63 hp in a Ford Aspire should just STFU because “it is what it is on purpose”? ”

            LOL. Yes, absolutely. I can’t think of many things stupider than looking at or buying a low horsepower econobox, and complaining that it’s a low horsepower econobox.

            As for your motor complaint, I never said you asked for a turbo. You asked for a higher center of gravity. Something the car’s designers explicitly wished to avoid. Which is why they put a non-tubro pancake 4 in it.

            The car is already pushing (or over) the boundaries of too expensive. Making it even more expensive trying to turn it into a 370Z probably won’t improve sales. It will, however, turn it into precisely what they were trying to avoid.

            Why so many people want this car to be significantly more expensive, and heavier handling, remains a mystery to me. This car was an attempt to recreate the 1st-gen RX7. With a side order of “blank slate” for the tuners. The chorus of “turn it into a 3rd-gen version” will forever miss the point.

          • 0 avatar

            Yes, too many of the complaints basically amount to turning the Toyobaru into a 370Z (which you’re right, it was never meant to be).

            But, for all the hand-wringing about how great the boxer engine is for the CoG, its closest competitor (the Miata) does just fine with a conventional N/A I4. For that matter, the Lotus Elise (which, yes, is more conventionally mid-engined) uses an actual Toyota I4.

            More importantly, if they were hung up on using a Subaru engine, they either blundered and should have played to Subaru’s strengths (I’m not going to say turbocharged, but Subaru’s N/A engines have always been sort of agricultural), or worked harder on somehow turning it into a proper high-RPM screamer, instead of a relatively joyless lump. Again, I like what they intended the car to be, but I think they half-assed it, and can’t be bothered to make any changes it should have, since it’s not worth the incremental sales.

          • 0 avatar

            Given the sales, evidently NO ONE is the intended customer. Which makes me think they got it slightly wrong. I really wanted to like this car, but it is a fantastic chassis hamstrung by an engine that just doesn’t want to play. It’s just not as fun as it should be. It doesn’t need more power, it needs more fun. Something like the manic 1.4T from the Fiat Abarth would be perfect. The current motor just drones on and on.

            I really have to think this was Toyota overriding Subaru. Toyota doesn’t understand fun.

  • avatar

    Plugging my zip code (60607) into Lexus’ website results in zero incentives.

  • avatar

    Those Lexus’s are fat pigs. The LC is 4000 lbs and the RC is 4300 and up. That’s ridiculous! Not even the newer mustang is quite that fat.. Give us a GT 86 with a NA boxer 6. Make it fit!

    • 0 avatar

      Subaru already makes the right engine for the 86… the boxer 4 turbo from the WRX STi.

    • 0 avatar

      I’d say a flat-6 is even less likely than a turbo flat-4 given re-engineering and CAFE.

      I’d like to see a turbo pushing 15 psi added to the current setup with an eco button (defaulted to off) that maxes out boost at 5 psi. That way they can claim good fuel economy while still letting the customer have the performance they want.

  • avatar

    530 nationwide sales this month. 10-11 per state of this union.

    See what happens when you don’t listen to your customers? We told you it needed more power before it even went into production.

  • avatar

    $27,800 is entirely too much for a car with a plastic tub Prius-C grade interior. It just screams cheap to me. I’m not asking for Lexus grade materials, but something at least on the level of the first generation tC.

    • 0 avatar

      As someone who traded their FR-S in for a Prius: the Prius interior is light years ahead of the Toyobaru.

    • 0 avatar

      My wife drives a first gen tC and she’s seriously considered the toyobaru for its eventual replacement. So we test drove an FR-S to make sure it’s something worth pining for.

      Literally the one thing she hated about the FR-S was the HVAC knobs. They “looked cheap…like something from a toy”, and that totally took that car off her radar. She /did/ like the HVAC knobs on the BRZ better, so it’s still in contention.

  • avatar

    I’m one of the few internet people that likes the RC, but the RC200t is a sad trombone of dumpy low-revving turbo-4 and tepid acceleration.

    The 86 is a least slow on purpose. The 200t just says you were too poor for the higher versions.

  • avatar
    Duke Woolworth

    I did see an RC coupe recently with the most gorgeous blue paint job this side of SEMA.

  • avatar

    Having never driven the 86/BRZ…

    Is this the same complaining that you see about the 155hp Miata? It needs more power!!

    The Miata absolutely doesn’t need more power. 0-60 in 6 seconds. And at least you can wind it out and shift a few gears before you cross 80mph like seemingly every other car these days. In fact, I’d probably rather have the 1.5L Miata from elsewhere in the world than the 2.0L we get here. Way more fun to push a car without risking jail time.

    So I’m always skeptical of the complaints on the Toyota and Subaru twins. I have to think the chassis is done right, the power is sufficient that you can actually have some fun on the street…

    • 0 avatar

      Go drive one. I suspect you will find that it is a fantastic chassis with an engine that just doesn’t want to play. It’s just drone, drone, drone, time to shift, drone, drone, drone, time to shift. The Miata feels happy to play – it’s the classic builds power as the revs rise, wants to rev, fun engine. The Toyobaru doesn’t.

  • avatar

    The 86 is unbalanced. The chassis, brakes, suspension, gearbox, steering feedback, etc, are way way better than the engine.
    That chassis DESERVES a better engine.
    No need to stick a 350hp in there. Just increase the torque and work on that power delivery: the car would be absolutely phenomenal.
    I wanted to buy one. I tried to like it. Could not get over that engine.

  • avatar

    I live within ten miles of a combination Toyota Lexus plant. I know many employees that work at that facility and they all tell me that the Lexus differences on a corresponding model are huge. Closer tolerances and higher quality parts are the many ones. If I were going to purchase on of these cars its Lexus hands down. Ask anyone who works for them.

  • avatar

    For whatever it’s worth, a good friend of mine bought a 2014 FR-S brand new, and recently installed a Jackson Racing centrifugal supercharger on it.

    He’s over the moon ecstatic about it. It didn’t “unbalance” the car as so many who’ve never even sat in an FR-S / 86 /BRZ state… it amplified it. It pulls hard and the car still has a beautiful balance and turn-in.

    He’ll be tracking it next season, so we’ll see if it blunted the edge or sharpened the blade.

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