Motoring: Luxury and comfort: The 2018 Lexus LC 500 is a vehicle worth spending your money on
Credit: NAUMAN FAROOQ
The 2018 Lexus LC 500 is a luxury car that's a real treat for its owners. With comfort, speed and great design, this car is surely one to test out.
However, since its inception in 1989, Toyota’s premium luxury arm has given us quite a few interesting offerings. Lexus’ first serious performance model was the 417 HP IS F, which made its debut in 2007. It might not have been the best sports sedan on the market, but it was far better than most expected out of Lexus – as a result, auto journalists and car enthusiasts started taking the brand much more seriously.
Then in 2010, Lexus really stunned the crowd, with the LFA. This limited production model (only 500 units made for the global market) featured a naturally-aspirated 4.8L V10 engine – which was made specifically for it, and has not been used in any other model. With 553 horsepower and 354 pounds per foot of torque on tap, and an all carbon- fibre construction, the LFA was seriously fast – zero to 100 kilometres per hour in about 3.6 seconds, and a top speed of roughly 325 kilometres per hour. Many of those who have driven it, have claimed that it was the greatest driver’s car ever made - sadly, I’ve never had that chance to find out personally. The LFA further cemented Lexus’ reputation as makers of great performance machines.
Their next effort, however, was not their greatest. Many expected the RC F – which made its debut in 2015 – to be like a junior LFA, but it just wasn’t. While it shared its wonderful 5.0 litres V8 with the old IS F – only now with some added power - the RC F just didn’t hit the nail on the head in many areas. First of all, at 1795 kilograms, it is a bit too heavy, which is never a good thing for a sports car. Then its chassis, which combines elements from the IS and GS sedan, lacks the feedback you’ll need when going quickly through corners. To cap it all, many think that its asking price of $85,400 is a bit too much for it, especially when its German rivals can be had for less money.
Just a year later, Lexus redeemed itself in the shape of the GS F. While it shares the same 467HP engine and Aisin eight-speed automatic transmission with the RC F, thanks to its longer wheelbase, and a very communicative chassis, the GS F is simply a pleasure to drive. I liked it so much, I named it my “2016 Car of the Year.”
For the 2018 model year, Lexus is now offering its latest sports model. It is called the LC 500, and it went on sale just a few months ago. It is currently offered in two guises, a naturally-aspirated V8 (as tested), and a V6 hybrid. The former uses a version of the same 5.0 litres V8 that has seen service in the IS F, RC F, and the GS F, however, in the LC 500 it produces the most grunt; max power output is 471 horsepower and 398 pounds per foot of torque. Like the IS F, RC F, and GS F, power is sent to just the rear wheels in the LC 500, but now through a new 10-speed direct shift automatic gearbox; not through the old eight-speed unit. As a result, the gear shifts are extremely quick in the LC 500 – so much so, I think it might just be the best torque converter currently on sale, in any car, at any price. The transmission in the LC 500 is so good, I prefer it to most dual-clutch gearboxes.
Combine that lovely V8 engine with this wonderful gearbox means, that you’ll get a fast car that sounds incredible, and every gear change will leave to grinning like a toddler who has had too much candy – so yes, it will bring out the mischievous child in you.
So, I bet you’re asking, what are the numbers? The sprint from zero to 100 kilometres per hour is over in 4.6 seconds, and its top speed is electronically governed at 270 kilometres per hour. So, it’s not the fastest car in the world, but it sure is more than fast enough for most of us.
It’s not just fast in a straight line; show this 1935 kilograms coupe some bends, and it will surprise you with its speed and poise! It bites and grips like a vehicle half its size, which is amazing. Part of the reason it handles as well as it does, is the fact that it has rear wheel steer. This gives it a sharper turn in at slower speeds, and move in the direction of the front wheels at highway speeds for more stability. I have experienced such steering systems in other cars before, but none have worked quite as well as it does in the LC 500.
So, as a performance car, the LC 500 is quite impressive, but that isn’t even its main role in life. You see, the LC 500 is a premium luxury coupe, designed to not only provide its owner with the utmost in comfort and convenience, but also style.
Lexus wanted a car that would strike a pose just as impressively as an Aston Martin, Bentley, or Maserati, when parked at the golf club, the marina, or the poshest hotel in town. Take one look at this car in the flesh, and you’ll agree that Lexus has achieved their goal in this department. This car looks fantastic, and makes a bold statement. Some think that it is over styled, but personally, I love it. The LC 500 might be the only production car where the floating roof design and the extra large grill actually works, but my favourite design detail are its rear lights, which seem to have the infinite mirror effect – they look fantastic.
As good as the exterior looks, the interior of the LC 500 is possibly even better. Many have said, that the exterior looks like a concept car, and that theme is carried into the cockpit. Everything from its design, to its materials, and the technology on board, just screams concept car. For instance, the door handle on most cars is made from plastic, and protrudes out of another plastic housing. In the LC 500, the door handle is milled from aluminum, and comes right out of the door – no cheap plastics surrounding this one. I also love its high quality buttons for the stereo, and while its touchpad style infotainment controller is still not great to use, it is better than the ones found in other Lexus models.
Any complaints? While it has wonderful seats, I do wish they had adjustable side bolsters, and I also wish they offered a massage feature. Minor details, but since other luxury coupes do offer those features, I think Lexus should do too, even if as an option.
There really is not much to dislike about the LC 500, it isn’t even expensive to run – I averaged 12.5 litres per 100 kilometres in my test week, which is simply incredible for a car of this size and performance.
As you’d expect, a car like this is certainly not going to be cheap; however, with a base price of $101,600 – it is a lot less than I was expecting, and a lot less than its European rivals.
As I mentioned earlier, the GS F was my “Car of the Year” in 2016. In 2017, I have thus far tested impressive machinery such as the smooth Rolls-Royce Dawn, the rocket-fast Jaguar F-TYPE SVR, the bonkers mad Honda Civic Type-R, among many others, and the LC 500 is currently my favourite. Will the remaining months reveal a car I like even more than this super-coupe from Lexus? I doubt it, but we’ll just have to wait and see.