The all-new Lexus LC 500 is the Japanese luxury brand’s newest flagship grand touring sports car. It is the road-going version of the LF-LC concept car that Lexus introduced back in 2012 at the North American International Auto Show. Some dub it the latest Lexus “halo car,” carrying on the brand’s mission to create evocative and aspirational vehicles such as the LFA supercar.
Taking its nomenclature to denote “luxurycoupe” (hence LC), Lexus is very clear on what this new high-performance car truly is: a refined chariot that can double as luxury cruiser and pulse-raising bruiser at the same time. One will easily spot the LC 500 on the road as the overall design is nothing short of dramatic. The prominent spindle-grille treatment up front sports a unique mesh texture that seems to adjust in tension as light touches it. The front also features a sinewy sculpted hood, and L-shaped headlights look like futuristic set props from Blade Runner. LC 500 sports a sleek roofline that then flows sharply into very pronounced rear fenders. Boomerang-shaped tail lights then cap off this vividly penned automobile, that, when viewed as whole, is a clear departure from what we’ve collectively known from a Lexus.
For starters, the 5.0-liter naturally aspirated V8 resides up front. In this day of turbos and down-sizing, having that burly motor is refreshing. Also used in the Lexus RC-F, in this state of tune, it produces 471 horsepower and 540 Newton-meter of torque. And 0-100 kph arrives in a brisk 4.7 seconds. Apart from raw performance, the sound created by the eight-cylinder is quite epic as well. Clever piping from the intake manifold to the firewall, coupled with active exhaust, create a Dolby Surround experience for motorheads. The cabin reeks of pure quality as well. Attention to detail is borderline obsessive, and the LC is the latest proof of Lexus’ fine craftsmanship. Our test mule came in toasted caramel finish, with varying hues of brown covering the interior. The driver is cocooned in a very ergonomic position, making operation of various controls a breeze. Handstitched leather abounds, and use of alcantara on the doors and roofline bump up the luxe feel. Tech and luxury married seamlessly is what the LC is all about.
What’s it like to drive?
Because the car sits so low and looks so daring, you’d expect it to be a pain to drive. Quite the contrary, because what you first notice is that outward visibility is good. The long bonnet does render an accurate depiction of the car’s proportions, so first-time drivers may want to get acclimatized first. At low speeds, the LC 500 behaves just like other Lexus coupes, mild-mannered and serene. However, you get a sense that it speaks softly but carries a big stick…thanks to that muted V8 warble. The electronic steering setup allows for more mundane 13.8:1 ratio for city crawls and quickens to 9.8:1 as you up the pace, giving the driver a communicative feel throughout. Lexus introduced new enhancements to the suspension design, among which is the intensive use of aluminum, thus reducing unsprung weight. This has served to return alert responses as well as suppleness in the ride. Traditional customers will be happy to find that the Japanese firm has dialed in the right amount of comfort for daily use.
Piling on more speed reveals more of the LC’s character, as burying that throttle raises the V8’s vocals a few octaves. This may prompt the juvenile in us to keep seeking that empty strip of asphalt and flooring it, as the LC 500’s engine note is intoxicating. Engage it in sport+ and the powertrain reaches for its falsetto, shrieking boisterously as if it were a Super GT racecar. The car does weigh more than 4,000 pounds, and for a sportscar, you’d be handing it plus-size trousers. Purists used to 911-like reflexes may be left wanting, but the LC 500 does possess enough athleticism to keep you engaged. It sure wouldn’t be your first choice for a track day, but then again, you knew that already. The LC 500 is best enjoyed with a heavy dose of motorway and countryside roads with occasional sprinkles of canyon carving.
Should you get one?
The local market for high-end sport cars is indeed getting better and better, with the segment getting split between your six cylinder turbos or naturally aspirated V8s that are priced PHP 15,000,000 or below, then the exoticas with turbo V8s, or full hog V12s that go for PHP 20,000,000 above. The LC 500 currently hovers at the 9.3-million mark, which slots it below your established Porsche 911 or Audi R8. Yes, it is a different animal than those Germans, but what you have to love with the Lexus is that it feels like a more expensive vehicle that it is. The design, build, and finish are just first-rate. The fact that it’s got decent performance to boost is icing on the cake.
This story first appeared in the February 2018 issue of Metro Society.