The stunning Lexus LC 500h is as frugal as it is seductiveOct 27th, 2017
In 2012, Lexus debuted the LF-LC concept. It was greeted warmly and so it went from pie-in-the-sky – at the time, Lexus said it would not be produced – to reality in short order. Where the LC differs from so many concept-to-production cars is the finished coupe holds true to the concept. It has a striking style and the sort of road presence Lexus is simply not known for — the LC drew eyes to it wherever it roamed!
There are two different versions of the LC 500 offered. The first features a 5.0-litre V8 that produces 471 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm. The second choice is the LC 500h. Some will argue that having a 3.5L V6 engine – good for 295 horsepower – plus two electric motors and a continuously variable transmission that works a regular four-speed automatic is not the sort of stuff that makes your pulse quicken.
In this case, you’d be wrong. The combination produces a net system output of 354 horsepower. The engine is smooth and loves to rev, the transmission works to give 10 speeds and the electric side gets its power from a lithium-ion battery. The plus is the transition between the gas, electric and gas/electric modes is seamless to the point few are better.
The key difference between the two LC models boils down to fuel consumption. Where the V8 consumes a posted average of 12.2 L/100 kilometres, the hybrid sips an average of just 8.0 L/100 kilometres. During the week, the LC 500h delivered an overall economy of 9.4 L/100 kilometres, which is outstanding for a performance car that was driven with purpose.
Interestingly, the fuel economy advantage does not make the LC 500h feel like its lacking. It takes five seconds to reach 100 km/h from a standstill, which is just 0.3 seconds slower than the 5.0L V8 version. The hybrid also completes the more important 80 to 120 km/h passing move in a rapid 4.3 seconds.
When it comes to the ride and handling side of things the LC cedes nothing to its peers. The rear-drive hybrid comes with an adaptive suspension, active four-wheel steering and a Torsen limited slip differential. The combination saw it hoon through a series of switchbacks as well as just about anything out there. The turn-in is crisp, the damping caters to divergent driving needs and, in somewhat of a surprise, the hybrid still loves to wag its tail is spite of the P275/35R21 tires, so it retains the all-important fun factor. It is a delight to drive quickly, but it is equally at home cruising the highway. Finally, the brake pedal, unlike so many hybrids, is flawless. It is crisp underfoot and easily modulated.
Most of the mechanicals can be tweaked to suit the tone of the drive. Forget Eco, as it emphasizes economy to the point the LC feels blunt. Comfort is perfect for a long highway cruise and Normal is the right choice for everyday driving. When the drive is kicked up a couple of notches pick one of the two sport modes — they ramp things up progressively. There is an Individual mode, but frankly, it proved to be redundant.
The cabin picks up where the exterior styling leaves off — it is a thing of beauty, for the most part. Forget any notion the LC is a two-plus-two; there is a back seat, but it has a paucity of legroom, and headroom for anyone over five-foot-six needs a Jetson-like bubble in the rear windshield to accommodate them. The back seat does, however, provide some needed additional storage space. The trunk? It is shallow and rated at 132 litres, which is just enough for a pair of roller-type carry-on suitcases. All of this might be considered damming were it not for the fact this car is all about ferrying two riders around in luxury.
The materials are first rate, with leather or suede covering the surfaces and there’s an obvious attention to detail — magnesium paddle shifters. Then there’s the driving environment. The front seat support is excellent, the driving position likewise and, for a coupe, the sightlines are clean and uncluttered. The back-up camera certainly helps. It also has all the right equipment — up to and including a heads-up display.
The different facets are accessed through Lexus’ Remote Touch system. It is comprised of radio controls with three hard buttons for certain functions, and a square touch-sensitive pad. The latter is finicky at first, but a little time using it does make life easier. Even then, to describe it as intuitive would be wrong.
Once too staid for its own good, Lexus has blossomed and now has a luxury coupe that can play with the big boys. The LC 500h has concept-car looks, a lavishly luxurious interior and the performance to back up its style. The plus? The hybrid does all of this without killing your wallet the gas pump.