By Shin Takei
For those of us lucky enough to experience driving the Lexus LFA we lamented the fact that it was a limited production (500) high dollar super car (MSRP $375K USD) produced from 2011 to 2012. Needless to say, it remains an icon and a collector car. For most driving enthusiasts, the word exciting, sexy, exhilarating, thrilling was never associated with Lexus. In fact, after the LFA, nothing from Lexus could be labelled exciting, until now. Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota Motor Corporation and Chief Branding Officer of Lexus heard the automotive journalist’s call and vowed that Lexus will never be associated with those words. Being an avid car enthusiast and master driver who honed his skills at Nurburgring, Mr. Toyoda wanted Lexus to be emotional and exciting vehicles to drive.
As part of the Lexus Flagship lineup which consists of the LS500 and LX570, the LC500 and LC500h, the Flagship Sports Coupe is part of the Global Architecture-Luxury platform that features a low center of gravity, aerodynamics and high- speed stability which is shared by the LS sedan. The styling of the LC Flagship coupe is aggressive starting with the prominent spindle grille and wide flared out hip and low frontal area due to a multi-link front suspension system. The ultra-compact LED 3-projector headlamps are flanked by the L-shaped daytime running lights. An optional carbon fiber roof panel is available and at the rear the spindle profile is carried out. A set of optional 21” black wheels enhance the sporting look. The coupe looks purposeful and its aggressive looks generated a few stares wherever we drove it. Liberal use of light weight high strength steel, aluminum and CFRP (carbon fiber reinforced plastic) contribute to the stiffest unibody ever built by Lexus and with much of the drivetrain behind the front axle a 52:48 weight distribution was achieved resulting in the driver’s hip and heel points to be lowered in the cockpit.
The LC500 is powered by a naturally aspirated 5.0 liters V8 with 471 HP @7,100rpm and 398 lb-ft of torque @4,800rpm. The DOHC 32 valve Dual VVT-iE (Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence) engine is hooked up to a 10-speed Sport Direct Shift automatic with paddle shift and manual mode. 0-60mph arrives in less than 4.5 seconds. To increase the exhaust sound, Active Exhaust channels the sound to the firewall through a special resonance tube. The engine switches to the Atkinson cycle for efficiency and to he Otto cycle for performance. The LC500h features Lexus Hybrid Synergy Drive and is mated to an Atkinson cycle 3.5 Liter gasoline engine and allows for operating the vehicle up to 87 mph without the gas engine. To enhance the sports driving experience, the owner can opt for the Lexus Dynamic Handling system (LDH) which coordinates EPS (electric power steering with Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS) and Active Rear Steering (ARS).
The interior of the coupe was designed to maximize the driving experience by positioning the driver low and close to the center of gravity to transmit road feel more directly. The seats feature bolsters in the shoulder area and the optional sports seats provide more grip around the driver during hard cornering. The Alcantara door panels with drape-surfaces are similar to the flowing exterior lines. The TFT display and the Lexus Multi-Media display integrates the Remote Touch Interface touchpad control for Navigation, Audio and Connectivity. As if the standard 12 speaker Pioneer surround sound system isn’t enough, there’s the optional Mark Levinson 13 speaker sound system to blow your ears away.
So how does this all work out? Quite well, thank you. The coupe is easy to drive, and in true GT car fashion, comfortable and relaxing but turning the Drive Mode Selector switch to Sport+ brings out the true character of this coupe. Faster shifting, enhanced engine performance and increased engine sound contribute to an exciting driving experience. There’s a lot of Japanese culture incorporated in the car. The chrome strip next to the rear glass panel is not unlike a samurai sword and words like Kizashi (a sign of great things to come) and Omotenashi (hospitality) are integrated throughout the car.
There is a limited edition of 100 Lexus LC500 Inspiration Series that are painted in Flair Yellow, which does draw your attention and a new pigment called Structural Blue was formulated taking characteristics from butterfly wings tropical fish and precious stones. Both are brilliant and intense and unique in enhancing the profile of the car but you better hurry to get one.
The Lexus LC500 is a true GT (Grand Touring) car. It is quick, handles well and finally has feeling and excitement. Yet it is comfortable enough to drive it for an evening out. However, we feel they’ve left a little wiggle room for more performance and believe a LC500 F-Sport is coming soon that would satisfy the hardcore sports car enthusiasts. Until then, the Lexus LC500 and LC500h will be more than adequate for most of us who won’t be driving it to the limit.