From the moment its concept car cousin made its debut on the auto show circuit, car lovers desperately awaited the Lexus LC 500. The automaker’s new halo car satisfied every bit of that anticipation as a true luxury high performance car for less than $100,000.
During a multi-day test drive for automotive media on the Big Island of Hawaii, Lexus set free what is immediately the automaker’s most responsive, best looking and most expensive car. The LC 500 serves as a direct challenge to the German luxury sports rides, combining adrenaline and elite performance with all the technology and comfort demanded by a grand touring car.
Performance car lovers got their first sneak peak at the what would become the top of the Lexus line when the LF-LC concept car debuted during the 2012 international auto show season. So often, the elite styling seen in an automaker’s concept car is just showing off — window dressing to demonstrate what cars could look like a few years down the veritable road. No one really expects a company to build the concept car.
When the LC 500 final production model was unveiled at last year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit, it stole the show. Lexus boldly put the concept car on the road at the disposal of prospective buyers.
The LC’s interior and exterior styling sublimely blends sophistication with aggression. The car retains the familiar Lexus honeycomb grille, but its graceful lines sweep back along an extended hood and aerodynamic windshield into wide haunches that announce the car’s undeniable power to the world.
Bless Lexus for keeping the V8 alive in its line. The GS F already puts a properly big engine to work, and this LC 500 uses a 5.0 liter powerhouse that puts out 471 horsepower with 398 lb-ft torque. From the moment you hit the ignition button, the V8 announces its unmistakable presence. There’s an immediate, sharp aggression to the car’s exhaust note — easily the loudest noise any Lexus made since the days of the LFA supercar.
The V8 ties into a Lexus first — a 10-speed automatic transmission with manual paddle shifting mode. Unless a driver puts the car into the car’s Sports or Sports+ modes with the intention of pushing the LC to its limits, the odds are most cruising or touring drivers won’t put all of those gears to work. The idea is to allow the car to accelerate as smoothly as possible without having to reach for a gear.
Initial reported numbers say the LC 500 will do 0-60 mph in 4.3 seconds and 0-100 in less than 11 seconds. The V8 is naturally thirsty, but Lexus kept the weight down and kept the engine compression hight to achieve a combined city and highway mpg of 22/30.
The interior comfort, safety and performance technology suite is already in place across the Lexus line, and the LC 500 puts that armory of tech to good use from the updated version of the Remote Touch infotainment system with touchpad to a selection of audio systems. Safety features include pre-collision alerts, pedestrian detection and a heads-up display.
The driving experience is pure pleasure. The speed is next to immediate with only the briefest of turbo lags. The acceleration is continuously smooth, while the steering is tight and reassuring. The brakes are excellent and the suspension comfortable. That’s the trick in creating a great high performance luxury car — forging suspension that makes the ride comfortable, but not numb. Lexus pulled if off with aplomb.
Lexus is now taking orders, with cars set to arrive later this spring with a base of MSRP of about $93,000.
All photos courtesy of Lexus