2017 LEXUS LC 500 COUPE REVIEW

2016 Lexus LC 500hLexus has moved into yet another market segment, that of a luxury coupe. Once again the prestige Japanese car maker wants to challenge the big name Europeans at their own game.

When the $750,000 Lexus LFA supercar was discontinued in 2012 the design team moved onto the Lexus LC project.

Lexus LC 500 has recommended price of $190,000, to which on-road charges have to be added.

A $15,000 enhancement pack is there for the person chasing even more in sporting performance. It has Lexus Dynamic Handling with four-wheel steering and variable gear ratio steering; an active rear spoiler that comes up at 80 km/h; and a carbon-fibre roof in place of the glass roof to lower the centre of gravity.

It’s not all go-faster gear, though, the enhancement package has leather-accented and Alcantara upholstery, 10-way power-adjustable sports front seats and carbon-fibre scuff plates.

The Dynamic Handling package wasn’t installed in our test LC. Frankly we can’t see many buyers opting for it as this is hardly a car aimed at track days.

2016 Lexus LC 500h

STYLING
For some reason photographs don’t show the LC to full advantage. In the metal it’s a stunning piece of automotive art. It really looks its best in straight-on profile, where it’s ultra-low, sleek and aggressive.

There’s a very definite narrowing at the waist of the big coupe, a real feature of the car and one was commented on favourably by all who saw it when we were parked.

The white paint of our test car was set off beautifully by the black of the huge panoramic roof and the air intakes that run from the rear of the doors almost to the rear wheelarches.

The LC 500 sits on 21-inch forged alloy wheels wrapped in low profile run-flat tyres Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres: 245/40 at the front and big 275/35 at the business end.

Inside, the design of the dash area is pleasingly simple with large sporting instruments in a binnacle, a wide infotainment horizontal central screen, and an elegant strip to the far side of the car. Sounds plain? Get yourself down to your favourite Lexus dealer and we reckon you’ll change your mind.

There are heated and ventilated front seats with 12-way power adjustment and memory function.

Lexus_LC_500_interior

POWERTRAIN
A high-tech, high-revving 5.0-litre V8 produces its maximum power of 351 kW at an Italian-like 7100 revs. Peak torque of 540 Nm is at 4800rpm, though there’s plenty of grunt from about 3000 up.

The engine has forged connecting rods and titanium valves that allow it to reach high revs. An exhaust sound-control valves gives it a healthy growl and a racecar like fast idle at startup. More about the sound in our Driving section of this test.

The LC 500 features a newly developed 10-speed automatic transmission, with shift times almost as fast as a dual clutch system unit. Magnesium-alloy paddle shifters are there if you prefer to do your own thing.

Power, of course, goes to the rear wheels.

INFOTAINMENT
The LC 500 has a 10.3-inch display, enhanced voice recognition, satellite navigation with SUNA Live Traffic information, Lexus Enform connected mobility works with compatible Apple and Android smartphones. Setting that all off is Siri Eyes Free and Miracast.

A bespoke Mark Levinson 13-speaker premium sound system was developed specially for the LC 500.

SAFETY
Lexus LC Lexus Safety System+, with adaptive cruise control, pre-collision safety system, lane keeping assist and sway warning. There’s also blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, a reversing camera. Should you still manage to crash with all that safety gear there are eight airbags.

DRIVING
The front seats are well shaped and provide support during cornering, but not to an excessive extent. This is after all a high-speed cruiser, not an out-and-out sportscar.

Rear seats are a reasonable size but unless those in front are willing to power their seats a fair way forward there’s very little legroom.

The 5.0-litre V8 is a real delight to sit behind. It has virtually instantaneous response as there’s no turbocharger that has to wind up before the engine gives its best. There’s still a place for naturally-aspirated engines in the performance car field.

Lexus claims a zero to 100 km/h time of 4.7 seconds – slower than the “less than 4.5 seconds” quoted at the time of the Australian announcement of the car late in 2016, but still pretty impressive.

We spent most of our time in the Sport and Sports+ plus modes as otherwise the LC feels too refined for our tastes. The big advantage is the added sound from the big V8, however while it makes all the right noises under acceleration it doesn’t do the snap-crackle-pop on downshifts that the German marques in this class do so well.

Handling is tenacious, with more grip than most owner are ever likely to want. The and a 52 / 48 weight distribution gives it the feeling it really does enjoy cornering.

The feel through the steering is pretty good, though we have felt better in this class.

This luxury coupe has Lexus’s most intensive use of high-strength steel to date, resulting in lighter weight and enhanced rigidity. It certainly has a nice solid feel, even on harsh Aussie backroads.

SUMMING UP
Lexus LC 500 is a luxury coupe that provides an excellent compromise between all-out sportiness and a comfortable grand-touring ride.

HYBRID
Lexus and its parent company Toyota have long been building petrol-electric hybrid cars so it comes as no surprise that the LC also comes as an LC 500h hybrid. It produces a combined output of 264 kW of power and 348 Nm of torque from a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine and a 300 Nm motor-generator.

Cleverly, the hybrid is offered for the same $190,000 as the V8 LC 500, rather than with a price premium as in most previous hybrids. We’ve yet to road test a hybrid LC but will try to get our hands on one. However, we strongly suspect our hearts will overwhelm our heads if it was our own cash on the line.

AT A GLANCE

MODEL RANGE
LC500: $190,000
LC500h: $190,000
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Lexus dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Lexus LC500 5.0-litre petrol two-door coupe)

ENGINE:
Capacity: 4.969 litres
Configuration: V8
Maximum Power: 351 kW @ 7100 rpm
Maximum Torque: 540 Nm @ 4800 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 98ROM
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 11.6 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 267 g/km

DRIVELINE:
10-speed automatic

DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4770 mm
Wheelbase: 2870 mm
Width: 1920 mm
Height: 1345 mm
Turning Circle: 10.8 metres
Kerb Mass: 1970 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 82 litres

BRAKES:
Front: Ventilated disc
Front: Ventilated disc

STANDARD WARRANTY:
Four years / 100,000d km

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