Spectacular design of another world, noble materials, luxury and atmospheric V8 engine of 477 HP: the Lexus LC 500 does not leave anyone indifferent. And after testing it thoroughly for almost 1,000 km on all types of roads, the LC 500 is also very addictive.
The Lexus LC 500 gives an overview of the German and Italian grand touring coupes. It turns out that Lexus can do more than refined saloons 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, with all its qualities and even some of its defects.
A concept car with license plate
Often, when a brand presents a concept car that prefigures a future model, we already know that the series model in question will have, with luck, some features of the concept car (and to top it all they will be attenuated). So, when Lexus introduced the LF-LC at the 2012 Detroit Motor Show everyone applauded the design of that coupe, but few expected that, despite official announcements, Lexus would really dare to put that design on the street . Luckily, he has done it.
We had to wait six years, but it’s here. And it has hardly changed with respect to the prototype of 2012. In fact, it is seeing it and thinking that it is a real concept car with license plate. If you thought that Lexus only made some boring cars, the LC 500 is the antidote for those prejudices.
The Lexus LC 500 is the new flagship of the brand in the luxury coupe and grand touring segment. Full of technology (active suspensions, use of carbon fiber and composite materials, etc.) and manufactured in Motomachi (the same factory from which the Lexus LFA exited), its goal of being the halo car of the brand, the car with the that everyone dreams, even if you end up buying a CT200h, an RX or an IS.
Lexus always had a car icon proposal. First it was the SC400 – a Toyota Supra with a less aggressive design -, then an SC430 equipped with a V8, a cabriolet coupe that did not convince anyone, and finally the extraordinary LFA, a true limited series supercar that almost 10 years later still costs almost half a million euros, if any goes on sale (we review the history of these models here) and now, the Lexus LC 500 fulfills this function.
The aesthetic language of Lexus is not exactly the one that generates the most consensus, but with the LC 500 the mark hits the table. I already know that it is a matter of taste and it is something personal, but the work done in the lines and forms that cross and mix, as well as the use of different materials and textures (there are several types of plastic, polished metals, carbon fiber, etc.), make the LC 500 the best expression of the complex aesthetic language of the brand . It is enough to see how the roof merges with the rear window and the complexity of forms and materials of the optical groups, especially the headlights, to realize that this car has not been designed, but sculpted. And that makes all the difference.
The best designs in history, such as the Jaguar E-Type or the Citroën DS (work, this one, by the Italian sculptor Flaminio Bertoni), were sculpted, designed with three dimensions in mind. And although it is increasingly the case in sports, in the case of the Lexus LC 500 is evident. The materials and forms play with light and shadows giving a feeling of modernity and luxury (something unusual in a design). And the result leaves you speechless, like that passerby who waited for him to finish parking for, with his mouth open and unable to articulate a word, take out his cell phone and melt the car to photos.
There is no doubt about the visual impact produced by the car. Neither trying a Ferrari or Lamborghini took me so many pictures at the wheel of a car. Children jump with excitement and run to see the car, while adults lose that false disdain, which many have, towards luxury cars and come up surprised to see this fighter of the future that landed on the street. What has been said is an authentic work of art that circulates on the street. But luckily for Lexus, the LC 500 has much more to offer than its look.
An atmospheric heart
The design of the Lexus LC 500 is the most innovative, but at the same time follows in its proportions the patterns of a sports classic: long hood, cabin almost on the rear axle and a very short behind. The good thing about the LC 500 is that it does not just look sporty, it is. Even in this Luxury version that lacks the four-wheel steering, the Torsen self-locking differential and-thanks to God-the variable-step power steering, elements that are equipped with the Sport + version (10,000 euros more expensive).
The architecture of the LC 500 (developed on the basis of the GA-L platform, from Global Architecture-Luxury) is also of the most classic: a motor in front center position and rear traction. As Javier Álvarez told us in his contact of the car at the beginning of the year: “the driving position is 1 cm lower than in the LFA, the engine is 5 cm further back and 1 cm lower, and the center of gravity of the vehicle is 51 cm from the ground. In addition, the distribution of weights is almost perfect (51:49), “a sign that Lexus have wanted to endow the LC with sporting behavior.
However, the highlight of this Lexus is the engine. We are facing the atmospheric 5.0 liter V8 developed in its day for the Lexus IS F by Yamaha, the 2UR-GSE type. An engine that we find today in the Lexus RC F and the Toyota Hilux rally raid of Nani Roma. The V8 retains the displacement of 4,969 cc, the stock of four camshafts in the head and 32 valves, as well as the VVT-i system of distribution and elevation of variable valves in continuous. However, thanks to a modification of the intake and exhaust, the engine now develops 477 hp at 7,100 rpm and delivers 540 Nm at 4,800 rpm. In the LC 500 it is exclusively associated with an automatic change of 10 relations.
It is a flexible propeller, has low, but really wakes up from 4,500 laps and goes up to 7,300 rpm. And in what way it goes up! The sound of this V8 has no filters or anything artificial, it is pure and authentic . It simply uses escapes with active butterflies, which open or close to limit or increase the sound volume, and a membrane that carries the noises of admission to the passenger compartment (an old trick used by Porsche in 911 since 996 and that we have seen in others cars like the BMW Z4 and the Audi R8, both first generation, for example).
The sound of the engine and the exhaust is as intoxicating as it is unexpected, in the case of a Lexus. In acceleration, the tone goes up and becomes increasingly acute, as if it were a racing engine. There, I had won, but when I lifted my foot off the accelerator or when I went down, the punches finished the job. I love that, when going down, the escapes make “boom” and “bang”, come on, you hear the deflagrations they produce. And I am not the only one, because it is one of the things that most like the clientele of brands such as AMG or Audi Sport.
Much more sporty than you imagine
The Lexus LC 500 has a clearly sporty connotation in its design and an engine with a very sporty soundtrack. Then, the question is to know if it gives what it promises. And there the answer I must give, true to my roots, is a “depends”. If with the Lexus LC 500 we want to go for the Porsche 911 in a twisted section, we will feel disappointed.
From the outset, the car weighs almost two tons, which implies certain inertias to overcome. The electrical steering is very precise and relatively fast (except in the most twisted sections where you would clearly want the nose to rotate more quickly), but it transmits absolutely nothing. And the same happens with the brakes. You do not manage to modulate the effort because you do not know when you reach the limit. The braking equipment is powerful (six-piston front calipers and four-piston calipers behind), but it is a by-wire system , that is, totally electric without mechanical connection between the pedal and the brakes.
And then there is the automatic change of 10 relationships . Despite having many marches, the development of them is very long (you can pass 120 km / h in third), the last six marches are useful to lower consumption, sound volume and simply travel on fast roads. In the end, you end up leaving it in automatic and you pass by using the cams to change gears.
Even so, the Lexus LC 500 is a very fast car. You catapult from 80 to 120 km / h in 2.8 seconds: “To overtake a truck? What truck?” Accelerates from 0 to 100 km / h in 4.7 seconds and covers 1,000 meters in 24 seconds. And it does it without the help of a Launch Control, without a doubt the Michelin Pilot Super Sport help (in 275 / 40RF20, behind). The traction of this rear-wheel drive is amazing .
That these criticisms do not deceive you, the Lexus LC 500 is not a pure sport. Neither did Lexus claim it. No, the goal of the LC 500 is to steal sales from models such as the BMW 650i Coupé, the Maserati GranTurismo or the coupes of the Mercedes S-Class. And if we see it under this prism, then the LC 500 hits the nail on the head.
Like almost all premium cars, the LC 500 also has several driving modes, but while in most manufacturers it is a simple artificial gadget that makes assistance and cushioning only harder, in the LC 500, the Car changes personality. In comfort mode, you can cross the peninsula from one end to the other without blinking: comfort is absolute and the purring of the V8 barely audible, it’s just there, far away, to remind you that if you want it, its power is at your disposal. (And spending in this case an average of 10 l / 100 km)
In Sport + mode, everything changes, the automatic change management laws become aggressive (and the last gears are forgotten), the hardness of the steering increases and the response of the engine to the accelerator becomes almost direct, while releasing the leaks and the V8 can howl freely until beyond 7,000 laps. And, friend, all you want to do is let the V8 express itself, because its range of tones is wide: it goes from the record of a NASCAR V8 to a howl worthy of the F1 a few years ago (when the cars sounded all right).
Despite the luxury and refinement shown in comfort mode, the Lexus LC 500 is a very fast car with a very noble behavior. The suspensions, with adaptive piloted dampers and active stabilizer bars, manage to erase the rolling and dribbling, while achieving the necessary firmness without falling into the excesses of a BMW M3 or a BMW M4 Coupé : here, no rebounds that make you lose traction, the motor is always optimal.
Despite the inertia, it is very easy to place the car at the entrance of the curve, with an impressive work of brakes (powerful and resistant, but without feeling). Of course, we would have liked a front train much faster, because the LC 500 does not get rid of a slight understeer at the entrance of the curve, but it disappears once you open the gas again. It is not pure and hard sport, but you can go surprisingly fast to your wheel, much more than you imagine to be a Lexus of great tourism.
Impressed by the exterior design and the engine of this LC 500, as well as its dynamic behavior, I have not told you about the interior and the passenger compartment is another work of art by Lexus designers. As in the body, the shapes, textures and materials (aluminum, various kinds of leather, various types of plastics, etc.) are mixed, crossed and separated forming a cockpit that you do not want to leave . It is light years away from the austerity of a German creation, even with the black color of our unit, and at the same time retains that aura of robustness and quality that some Italian creations lack. In addition, the feeling of perceived quality is here at the best level of Audi’s creations (the reference in this section).
The digital instrument panel is very legible and customizable. The seats are very comfortable, although if they had something more lateral support in curves it would not be a luxury, and the space is immense … in the front seats. Behind, although two adults can sit and travel, the reality is that only a few children could sit on them. And I say they could because they have to go in child seats (it has ISOFIX) is not that they are going to enjoy them. (By the way, using pushchairs in this car forces both the front seats forward, which annoy you the driving position). In the end, the rear seats of an Audi TT are more usable.
What of the rear seats, in a big tourism like this LC 500, could be an anecdote. However, what is not welcome is the Lexus multimedia system. I have never seen a multimedia system that is so complicated to use, with dozens of hidden submenus for air conditioning, the navigator or the audio, and a tactile control on a touch pad of the most difficult thing of… control, it’s worth the redundancy: move as move your finger on the touch pad, you will never hit the menu you want. It is a simply irritating system. And no, it has not improved with respect to the Lexus GS300 HF Sport. Of course, the acoustic quality of the system is superb. If it were not for that happy multimedia system, the interior of the Lexus LC 500 would deserve the highest score.
In front of its rivals
Currently, the coupes of big tourism do not have the favors of the market. Even so premium manufacturers keep them in their catalog, both for image issues and to satisfy the demand of a loyal clientele to the brand and this type of models. Thus, the Lexus LC 500 faces in the market the usual suspects, who in their price band, are rather few.
The Lexus LC 500 is not a pure sports car, so comparing it to a Porsche 911 does not make sense, but in front of a BMW 650i Coupe offers a more rewarding driving experience and the feeling that you are at the wheel of something special. In that aspect, 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, where two adults can really travel comfortably, and in the multimedia system that now equips. Anyway, even the pre-styling multimedia system of the Maserati (which was very outdated) is preferable to the Lexus system.
And in front of the Mercedes-Benz, their natural rivals? The S Class Coupé (starts at 162,000 euros) is more expensive, offers more habitability, but also an aseptic 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.