Oh so close to perfection – the new Lexus LC500h is a jaw dropper! Lexus has delivered an absolutely beautiful machine to the world with its range topping coupe the LC.
Forget the shockingly bad SC of old, the LC is a real stonker. Available with a V6 hybrid power train (or V8 in some markets), the super sleek coupe is a real head turner. It doesn’t happen too often but with the LC people have been reaching for the camera phones when I drive by. I’d love to say they recognise me from my days on TV but sadly my ego must take a back seat to the physical masterpiece that Toyota’s luxury brand has delivered.
The LC’s body is as curvy as an Aston’s yet sharp and purposeful. The Lexus family grill has never been so aggressive and imposing as it is in the 4,770mm long two-door coupe. The LC is a quick machine too that goes as well as it looks, but like most grand tourers you will enjoy simply cruising more than ripping up the road in the 2+2. In terms of good looking cars, the LC is right up there with the best machines you can buy. The reactions from other road users is akin to those I got when driving the first BMW i8 or the new Mustang – the LC makes a clear statement. The exterior’s form is modern yet also a throwback to the classic supercars that the intended middle aged buyers would have admired as kids. The proportions are fantastic, this machine even makes a Mercedes-Benz SL look utterly dull in comparison.
Inside the cabin may have four seats but the two in the back are Porsche 911-like and tiny. Seriously, I had to ask any rear seat passengers if they could sit cross-legged (that’s not a joke). At a squeeze three people (two on the passenger side) could fit if necessary. Up front the cabin is all about the driver and passenger. It is a comfortable place to be with beautiful seats, nice materials and excellent build quality on show. The feeling falls short of luxurious. Luxury should be effortless but its clear the Japanese luxury brand still has a few things to learn about creating an effortless and functional interior. The positioning of secondary switch-gear is a mess and the interaction required to do even simple tasks is overly complicated and frustrating.
There is voice activation but no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. I had to link my phone via bluetooth and this added to the dated feel of the interior. When compared to a new Audi A8 or A7 the whole user interface feels ancient. Simple tasks like trying to turn on the heated seats is a pain and the trackpad’s ‘clicky’ action is simply rubbish. After a week in the car I was only a little less frustrated with the interface that is trying too hard to mimic Audi’s MMI… and failing. Another odd thing is the positioning of the drive mode selectors for Snow, Comfort, Sport + etc. these setting are on two twist nobs positioned high up either side of the dash display housing and are far from pretty to look at. A head-up (HUD) display helped keep my eyes off the gimmicky main display dial and on the road ahead. The only other downside with the hybrid is the tiny boot, and I do mean tiny.
Behind the wheel of the LC you feel utterly content and dare I say a little smug. The LC’s beautiful flared hips fill your rearview mirrors and the long sleek bonnet reminds you constantly that you are in a special machine. The LC is a big low slung and quite wide bus and this means multistory carparks are a real pain but in every other sense the LC is a joy to interact with. I’ve been testing the 354hp (combined power) LC500h with its 3.5 litre V6 and low road tax. At 5 seconds 0-100km/h the 500h is only a tad slower to 100km/h than the 477hp V8! A really complicated 10 speed ‘multi stage hybrid transmission’ automatic (yes 10!) features paddle shifters and delivers ultra smooth progress with no lurching. The only downside is an annoying transmission whine under acceleration.
Provoke the machine and you can get the tail to step out quite easily depending on the drive mode you’re in. The range topping LC500h Sport+ model for example you get rear-steer, a limited slip differential to keep the rear in check under acceleration and VGRS variable rate steering. When the hybrid batteries are charged moving-off and even higher speed cruising can be done using electric power alone. The LC is a superb cruiser and lives for brisk cross country driving. Three grades are available and LC500h prices in Ireland start from €110,950 (Luxury), rising to €118,250 (Sport) and €125,500 for the ‘Sport+’ grade.