Resetting the bar for high-performance luxury coupes today
Lexus is well known for cars that deliver supreme luxury and exciting performance – often more of the former than the latter. The exotic and rare Lexus LFA that first arrived back in 2005 is a legendary supercar with breathtaking performance and a stratospheric price tag of over $400K. For those that can afford it, it is one of the most exciting vehicles ever produced.
The new Lexus LC500 is the next best thing to an LFA priced at $92,000. Frankly, the LC is arguably a much better-looking car than the LFA presenting a 2 + 2 layout that is truly striking. With its 5.0-liter, 471-HP/398 ft. lbs V8, the LC500 not only delivers impressive acceleration but backs it up with an exciting exhaust note, something often forgotten with other late model performance offerings. Accelerating through a 10-speed automatic, the LC resets the bar for under $100,000 performance coupes.
What may be overlooked are some of the high tech features not commonly used on many high-end coupes. Assisting the fluid-like handling of the LC500 is the four-wheel steering system that articulates the rear tires to help cornering and parking maneuvers. Unlike some highly aggressive four-wheel steer systems we’ve seen in the past, this system is light on input but highly effective.
The LC500’s handling agility is also helped through the use of lightweight but strong materials to keep the weight in check. While 4370 lbs may not be light for a sports coupe, the Lexus benefits from the use of lightweight materials including high strength steel and aluminum (hood, doors and front fenders) along with a fiberglass trunk lid and integration of carbon fiber reinforced plastic throughout and a carbon fiber roof section that is strong and light.
The cockpit of the LC500 is truly elegant in keeping with Lexus standards for cutting-edge luxury. Lots of leather comes up to touch you as you enter, our vehicle draped in bright camel upholstery. All the standard amenities have been included such as heated and cooled seating surfaces blended into highly supportive seat structures that make long drives extremely comfortable. Visibility in all directions is excellent and rear-mounted cameras and sensors avoid any negative parting encounters. Audio, climate, and comfort controls work . . . well . . . like a Lexus (read – awesome!).
The instrument panel features many of the breakthrough features we often see in Lexus performance vehicles. Adjustable gauge displays slip between eco, normal to performance modes, the various tachometer rpm red lines configured for the style of driving selected. The larger and tastefully integrated center mounted monitor features very intuitive controls so as not to take your eyes off the road ahead for any more time than necessary.
The engine, as previously noted, is a 471hp V8 that revs right up to peak power at 7,100 rpm. The engine features an assortment of low-mass forged connecting rods and titanium intake and exhaust valves. The cylinder heads are equipped with variable valve-timing and, depending on conditions, fuel is injected either directly into the cylinders—allowing for a high compression ratio (12.3:1)—or into the intake ports to enhance low-end response. Now that’s technology!
Top Speed is electronically limited to 168 mph. That’s plenty fast for this type of vehicle but the LC500 is not breakneck fast on acceleration probably due to its weight. The paddle shifters are excellent, each shift barely perceptible except when under hard acceleration. In the performance mode, it would be great if the shifts elicited more of a kick to the back side. We hear that an F-Sport version of the LC500 is in the works so perhaps that extra performance “push” is on the way. Regardless, the exhaust note when driving with spirit is certainly present delivering a loud growl any performance fan will appreciate.
Overall the LC500 is the most exciting Lexus to come about in several years. The long, low sleek design sets this car apart from the rest of the Lexus line and has already served notice on the rest of the high-performance competition for high-end luxury performance coupes. Some magazines strain to find direct competitors to the LC500, one major automotive magazine comparing it to the twice as costly Aston Martin DB11. If that’s not flattery, we don’t know what is. But such applause is due to this impressive machine that delivers from the cockpit what the fluid exterior design promises.