2018 Lexus LC 500
It’s going to leave a mark
Lexus’ new 2018 LC 500 coupe has dastardly good looks with a rip-saw edge that cuts to the quick on a first impression.
This 2+2 grand tourer has steely styling that fits like Armani origami, which seems to have equal appeal to men and women, as was observed in a recent test drive.
It is the first model on the new Global Architecture — Luxury platform (GA-L), designed for front engine/rear-wheel drive Lexus models. The upcoming LS sedan will be the next model on the platform.
This heir to the Lexus flagship two-doors will have a much greater reach than its predecessor, the LFA supercar. It was a race-tuned, $300,000 V-10 badass but built in such short supply (500 cars) that few enthusiasts ever saw one on the road. A halo, yes, but too obscure to inspire.
Rather than a halo, Brian Bolain, Lexus marketing chief, called the LC our visionary car, one of bold design and dynamic driving. “We do intend to leave a mark.”
The LC 500 goes on sale in May with two rear-wheel-drive powertrains: a 471-horsepower 5.0-liter V-8 with 10-speed automatic or the gasoline-electric hybrid 3.5-liter V-6 with 354-hp and estimated fuel economy of 26 mpg city, 35 highway and 30 mpg combined.
Pricing starts at $92,995 for the V-8 and $97,505 for the hybrid model; pricing includes the $995 freight charge from the Motomachi plant in Japan. Most cars will go home at about $100,000, Bolain said.
The Hybrid uses a multi-stage continuously variable transmission but with the foundation of a four-speed automatic that simulates 10 speeds, with an actual shift feel. The process is intended to eliminate CVT rubberbanding, yet there is some delay in grabbing a gear when making an evasive maneuver. But it will hustle to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds, Lexus says, and the V-8 will get to 60 in 4.4 seconds.
The hybrid will be the choice for world markets (for its low emissions and extended fuel economy), while the V-8 will make up about 90 percent of the North American market, Bolain said.
Braking for both cars is by large vented rotors: 13.3 inches front with six-piston aluminum calipers and high-friction brake pads and 12.1-inch rotors rear with four-piston aluminum calipers with high-friction brake pads.
Standard features include a glass roof, triple projector LED headlights, arrowhead daytime running lights, Drive Mode Select, paddle shifters, Lexus premium audio and a color 10.3 inch multi-information display. Safety technologies include a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, all-speed radar cruise control, lane keep assist and lane-departure alert with steering assist.
The “get-it-all” Performance Package with Carbon — $10,000 — adds active rear steering, variable gear ratio system, active rear spoiler, Alcantara headliner and carbon fiber scuff plates. And it also includes the Sport package of carbon fiber reinforced plastic composite roof, 21-inch wheels, Alcantara sport seats that are heated and ventilated, limited slip differential, blind-spot monitor and intuitive park assist.
The car’s construction is a study in “light-weighting” (including glass sheet molding compound, high-strength steel and aluminum), but the curb weight seems generous at 4,280 pounds.
The body has good forward sightlines over the low hood with an open quarter window at the side mirrors, but there’s not much visibility over the shoulder. The wide rearview mirror and the rearview camera are essential aids when backing. The turning circle is very tight at 35.4 feet and even tighter at 34.8 feet with the option for rear active steering.
The interior has an appealing handcrafted appearance heavy on a tech theme with metallic trim and liberal use of Alcantara (faux suede).The cabin is well soundproofed with little disturbance from wind noise.
The cockpit-like driver area is quite focused and electronically oriented but with a simple row of buttons for the climate control. But the shifter console is complicated with the touch-sensitive controller for navigation, radio, media, phone and apps. The large electronic gauge array literally glides right to display a secondary readout for various levels of information. It is a dramatic display but functional.
Seat comfort is excellent but tall drivers may wish for a seat-cushion extender. Small visors that do not slide for more coverage are almost pointless, with small lighted mirrors. The driver seat is the command position, but the front passenger seat feels cheated on spaciousness.
The back seats are quite erect with a mere suggestion of legroom at 32.5 inches. Tight trunk space of 5.4 cubic feet may not look capable of fitting a small golf bag, but Lexus says it will.
Whether a halo or a visionary car, the LC will be a dynamic new brand ambassador.