Two Classes of Toyota-built Sports Coupe and the $5 Difference

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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]