Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: August 21, 2017
“That’s a Lexus?” If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me that question, I’d have enough money to actually buy this 2018 Lexus LC 500. Yes, it’s a Lexus, but it sure doesn’t look like one. This LC 500 has got supercar looks, Aston Martin proportions, and enough curves and edges to convince most people that it’s still a concept car. But this is from a company that thrives on making the most comfortable and reliable SUV for your distant uncle, the RX 350.
Though Lexus has taken a risk and adopted some fairly striking design language in the past few years, with Nike-checkmark headlights and Predator-style grills, I’d actually go as far to call the LC 500 the most beautiful two-door four-seater coupe on the market today. Just look at those exotic curves, the “crying” tail lights, and Jaguar-style door handles that flip out when unlocked. This isn’t a Lexus, it’s a damn piece of art.
The interior speaks volumes - this is how you do a proper cabin design: make the buttons minimalist, add lavish materials and soft surfaces, don’t go stingy on the colour, and add some Frankenstein bolts protruding out of the instrument cluster to control the driving modes. Just take a look at how much surface is covered in that luscious caramel brown that Lexus aptly names Ocher. Hint: every surface, not just the seats and dashboard like how other automakers do it. Suede and Alcantara line the door panels and headliner and if it’s not suede, it’s leather.
But you’d be wrong to call this a sports coupe. LC stands for luxury coupe, after all. Call it a personal luxury coupe, on the same lines as the Mercedes-Benz E 400 Coupe that we tested a few weeks back. Rather than carving corners or beating track times, the LC 500 is a cruiser, a grand tourer, a daily companion to transport you to your destination in style, comfort and best of all, driving excitement.
Your senses may be overstimulated by the exotic sheetmetal, but most of the emotional frenzy actually comes from under the hood. You see, Lexus doesn’t know what a turbocharger is - so they’ve equipped the LC 500 with a naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V8, the same one in the RC F and GS F but tuned a little differently for an output of 471 hp and 398 lb-ft.
The engine feels healthy, with a good amount of shove once you hit 3,000 rpm. Without any turbos, the LC 500 feels a tad sluggish at launch. Once you get the ball rolling though, power comes on linearly and relentlessly right up to its 7,300 rpm redline, just like the RC F. You do feel the weight anchor the LC 500 down on the straights, but it’s not enough to make most drivers swoon at the G’s pulled at wide open throttle.
All that power is routed through a ten-speed automatic transmission - yeah, you read that right, ten speeds. Now, usually when you have a gearbox with that many gears, you want shortly spaced ratios so that the car can hit its peak power (again, at 7,100 rpm) more often. However, Lexus has gone out of their way to make the gears incredibly tall, meaning it takes forever to get to the redline, and by the time you’re there and peak power comes on, you’re at cop-bait speeds. It’s frustrating because this V8 is just begging to be revved up. Upshifts can lag sometimes, meaning you have to hit the paddles half a second before you actually want the car to shift, but surprisingly enough downshifts are lightning quick, even DCT-quick.
On the bright side, the noise and build-up to that redline is incredible. What the LC 500 lacks in torque, it makes up for in auditory hysteria. Have a listen to our Exhaust Notes clip of the LC 500 - it all starts with the ignition noise. Blindfold me and I would have thought I was sitting inside a McLaren 570GT or Aston Martin DB9. It surely doesn’t sound this good in the RC F or GS F - somehow Lexus has found the perfect tune for the exhaust.
Upshifts are met with a raspy snarl while downshifts are followed by an authoritative bark. The real highlight is when you put the LC 500 into Sport+ mode and hold the revs at the redline for half a second - it will ping and bounce off the limiter with a gnarly V10-like noise, reminding me of the LFA. It’s also refreshing not to hear any synthetic burbles on overrun that automakers love to program into their exhausts these days. The LC 500 is a pure string symphony at its finest.
Like we mentioned earlier, the LC 500 is no sports car. Though the variable ratio steering is clever, weighting up and loosening when needed, and the rear-wheel steering allows the LC 500 to have the turning radius of a Prius, the heavy front end and constant fight for traction really limits this car to the streets. Even with the help of Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, the LC 500 can’t put power down properly if you hammer the throttle on dry pavement. The traction control light flashes incessantly when you power out of a turn, and though the chassis is stiff enough to feel balanced and controllable, it just doesn’t feel right. Keep the LC 500 relaxed, putter on at a hypotensive pace, and the Lexus will reward you with a complaint, forgiving, and comfortable ride instead.
Every car isn’t without its gripes, and there are a few nuisances with the LC 500 that we couldn’t forgive. First off, whenever you put the car into reverse gear, the LC will ping like a forklift backing up at Costco. You can “temporarily” mute it by hitting the “OK” button on the steering wheel, but weirdly enough it doesn’t always give you that option. Like a Porsche 911, the rear seats aren’t usable for adults either - best to leave it for small children or for storing your groceries. Luckily the trunk is a generous size for a vehicle in this segment.
I’d also forgo the Performance Package ($13,500), which adds a rear limited slip differential, variable gear ratio steering, rear wheel steering, retractable rear spoiler, carbon fibre roof, front sport seats, Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, and an 8-way adjustable driver’s seat. Don’t kid yourself - this ain’t a track car. The LC 500 is just fine and less confusing without the track time garnish. Save that for the LC F that Lexus will hopefully debut soon.
The Lexus has one major card up its sleeve, and that is its price tag. Sure, a starting price of $101,600 isn’t exactly cheap but when compared to its competitors the Lexus is quite the bargain. A base Porsche 911 Carrera with just 371 hp is already more expensive at $104,000, and that’s before any of its notorious options tacked on top. The V8-powered Jaguar F-Type R starts at $113,500, the BMW M6 Coupe at $127,800, while an Aston Martin Vantage GT will set you back a cool $105,000. In this company, the LC 500 is the most affordable. Colour me surprised.
With spaceship looks, supercar noise, and an interior worthy of a museum, the LC 500 surpasses what anyone would have expected from this mainstream luxury automaker. Lexus’ flagship coupe may not be the track monster that some may have expected it to be, but the LC is more singularly focused otherwise: getting occupants from A to B in the most fashionable, stylish, and exciting way possible. That, to me, is what sold me on the LC 500 - that is what driving should be all about.
型号 Model: 2018 Lexus LC 500
顏色 Paint Type: Infrared
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $101,600
試車售價 Price as Tested: $115,750
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,870
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,760 / 1,920 / 1,345
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,935
引擎 Engine: 5.0-litre V8
最大馬力 Horsepower: 471 hp @ 7,100 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 398 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 10-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, RWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 14.7 / 9.2 / 12.2
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 17.3
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Michelin Pilot Super Sport; Front 245/45RF20; Rear 275/40RF20