Spectacular design worthy of Wakanda, luxurious materials, and an atmospheric 471HP V8: the Lexus LC 500 does not leave anyone indifferent. And after testing it thoroughly for over 500 miles on all types of roads, the LC 500 has us lusting after it evermore.
The Lexus LC 500 aims right for its German and Italian GT coupe competitors. It turns out that Lexus can do more than refined sedans and exclusive hybrid SUVs, it also knows how to thrill the driver. Yes, we talk about emotion in Lexus; visual, auditory and sensory emotion . Thus, Lexus has created the Japanese equivalent of the Maserati GranTurismo - a [in this case] red-hot, passionate machine.
Often, when a brand presents a concept car that prefigures a future model, the production vehicle seldom resembles what initially captured the eyes and attention of so many. So, when Lexus introduced the LF-LC at the 2012 Detroit Motor Show everyone applauded the design but few expected such beauty and form to make it to the production line. Fortunately, Lexus has delivered in true form to the LF-LC, and in doing so, introduced one of the most stunning cars of the 21st century.
We had to wait six years, but it's here. And it has hardly changed with respect to the prototype of 2012. In fact, the LC 500 could pass for a real concept car with license plate. If you thought that Lexus only made boring, safe, luxurious people carriers, the LC 500 is the antidote for such prejudices.
Living in the luxury coupe slash GT segment, the LC 500 could be considered Lexus' new flagship. Full of technology (active suspension, use of carbon fiber and composite materials, etc.) and manufactured in Motomachi (the same factory from which the Lexus LFA exited), the goal of the LC 500 is to be the brand's halo car; the car that everyone dreams of, even if they're in the market for a CT200h, an RX or an IS.
Lexus has always had an icon-car contender. First it was the SC400, a Toyota Supra with a less aggressive design. Then, the V8 SC430, a cabriolet coupe that missed plenty of marks. And finally the extraordinary LFA, a true limited series supercar that almost 10 years later still costs almost half a million dollars, when you can actually find one for sale. Now, the Lexus LC 500 fulfills this function.
Lexus' design language is not exactly the one that generates the most consensus, but with the LC 500, impressions are practically unanimous. The marriage of lines and materials makes for a form that is undeniably gorgeous. How the roof merges with the rear window and the complexity of forms, especially the headlights, makes you realize that this car has not been designed, but sculpted - that is very special.
Living up to the same standard as the car's design, the LC 500's engine is another highlight. The glorious 5.0 liter V8, developed in its day for the Lexus IS F by Yamaha, trumpets to a 7,100 redline. The V8 retains four camshafts and 32 valves, as well as Toyota's/Lexus' VVT-i system. Thanks to a modification of the intake and exhaust over the original IS F V8, the engine now develops 471 hp at 7,100 rpm and delivers 398 lb/ft at 4,800 rpm. Shifts are made using a 10-speed automatic transmission.
The power plant is docile yet lively enough at low RPM but really wakes up from 4,500 all the way up to its 7,100 redline. And boy does it sing! The sound of this V8 is not filtered or artificial in any way. It is pure, authentic and piercing. It simply uses escapes with active butterflies, which open or close to regulate volume, and a membrane that carries the sound to the cockpit.
The sound of the engine and exhaust is as intoxicating as it is unexpected, in the case of a Lexus. When accelerating, the tone becomes increasingly acute, as if it were a racing engine. Upon lift, the musical overrun escapes to the delight of both driver and onlooker. The LC 500, and its exhaust note, were quite a hit during our visit to a cars & coffee at The Shop in Seattle.
Luxury GT coupes do not exactly dominate the car market, at present. Even so, premium manufacturers keep them in their catalog, both for image prestige and to satisfy the demand of brand-loyal who may desire this type of chariot. Thus, the Lexus LC 500 faces in the market the usual suspects who in their price range, are rather few.
The LC 500 is not a pure sports car, so comparing it to a Porsche 911 does not make sense. However, in regards to something like a BMW 650i Coupe, the LC offers a more rewarding driving experience and the feeling that you are at the wheel of something special. Or if we compare it with a Maserati GranTurismo, the LC 500 offers greater comfort and a slightly higher dynamic behavior. Both models have an enviable soundtrack, but where the Maserati GranTurismo has advantage is in the rear seats, which are actually usable by adults relative to the LC's. How about against Mercedes-Benz, their natural rivals? The S Class Coupe (starts at $124,500) is more expensive, offers more habitability, but also a relatively sterile driving experience. Interestingly, its natural rival would be the SL 500, a coupe-cabrio that is already at the exit door of its commercial life. But, again, the LC 500 exceeds it in dynamic behavior and soundtrack. What we have in the Lexus LC 500 then, is a melding of sports car tendencies with luxury GT characteristics - it lives well enough in both worlds to make it a compelling choice over any competitor in the segment.
Urge to Understeer
Specs: Engine: 5.0L, 32-valve V8 Drivetrain: RWD Power: 471 Torque: 398 Transmission: 10-speed Automatic Curb Weight: 4,364 lbs (F: 53% / R: 47%) Base Price: $92,000 Price as Tested: $103,620