2018 Lexus LC 500h: First Look
Competes with: Mercedes-Benz S-Class coupe, Porsche 911, BMW 6 Series
Looks like: The LC 500, in all its concept-car glory
Under the hood: 3.5-liter V-6 and electric motor with a combined 354 horsepower; CVT-style automatic transmission with stepped ratios; rear-wheel drive
Hits dealerships: Late winter/early spring 2017
Much as Lexus’ LS 460 flagship sprouted an LS 600h hybrid variant, the brand’s new flagship coupe — the LC 500, revealed last month at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show — will also get a hybrid version. Dubbed the LC 500h, the swoopy two-door luxury coupe will make its debut next week at the Geneva Motor Show with what Lexus calls its new “Multi Stage Hybrid System.” Naturally, the hybrid version has all the stunning concept-car glam as the LC 500.
Related: More Geneva Motor Show Coverage
Lexus spokesman Maurice Durand told us he anticipates the LC 500h will hit dealerships in the late winter or early spring of 2017, shortly after the LC 500; it will be a 2018 model.
The LC 500h rides Lexus’ new global architecture for luxury vehicles, or GA-L for short. Styled closely after the LF-LC concept unveiled three years ago, the LC 500h has the same intersecting curves, narrowing roofline and massive rear fenders as its non-hybrid sibling. It’s a big car, with a wheelbase of 112.9 inches — just 4 inches short of the regular-wheelbase LS 460 sedan.
Twenty or 21-inch alloy wheels are available. Aside from some hybrid badging, the LC 500h is hard to differentiate from its non-hybrid sibling. That’s probably a good thing, as the LC 500 looks simply outrageous. Even from a brand that’s turned up the heat on styling over the past few years, this pushes the envelope at least as far as the LFA supercar that found a lucky few buyers earlier this decade — and possibly farther.
Like the LC 500’s cabin, the LC 500h envelops occupants with stitched surfaces, wispy inlays and a high, stepped leather-wrapped dashboard. Magnesium-alloy paddle shifters sit behind the steering wheel, while the gauge hood has Frankenstein nubs to adjust driving modes as well as the electronic stability system.
A Pioneer stereo is standard; Mark Levinson premium audio is optional.
Under the Hood
Lexus’ latest hybrid system employs a 3.5-liter V-6 and electric motor; the latter draws power from a lithium-ion battery and the setup makes a combined 354 horsepower. That’s a lot less than the LC 500’s 467-hp V-8, but Durand said the LC 500h still should hit 60 mph in the high-4-second range. Lexus says the LC 500, by contrast, hits the mark in less than 4.5 seconds.
Lexus’ traditional power-split device acts as the transmission — similar to a continuously variable automatic transmission — but there’s a wrinkle here. Between the power-split device and the output shaft is a four-speed automatic transmission, which splits the power between “eight to 10” stepped gears, Durand said. “You’ll feel it shifting, and it won’t feel as rubber-bandy.”
The LC 500h will have a standard pedestrian-detecting front collision warning system with automatic emergency braking, as well as adaptive cruise control, lane departure assist and automatic high-beam lights.