LOOKS, SOUNDS THE PART
Lexus makes style statement with coupe
WITH the new LC coupe, Lexus has brought a daring concept car design to life. Many show cars lose their flair by the time they make it showrooms but stayed true original formula.
To repeat a cliche, looks fast even when it’s parked. However, despite Lexus promising the “pinnacle” of performance, LC faster than it actually is, whether in 5.0-litre V8 guise or 3.5-litre V6 hybrid.
Look beyond V8’s impressive output of 351kW. Its 540Nm torque (the real energy that gets you moving) is in the same territory as a Ford Mustang (530Nm) or Holden Commodore SS (570Nm).
However, low-slung Lexus is being asked to shift more weight than the humble Holden and Ford, tipping scales at about two tonnes, so performance muted relative to German peers. Not that
is a key factor, as Lexus reckons it will attract buyers on looks alone.
“Cars are their obsession, they want exclusivity in purchase,” says Australia boss Peter McGregor.
“Even when they’re blown away by the looks, it all comes down to sensory experience of driving car, adrenalin rush, credibility. The way a car makes them feel underpins whole purchase.”
Beyond the hype, Lexus has realistic sales expectations of about 100 examples a year — mostly V8s making LC more, er, exclusive than Porsche, Ferrari or Lamborghini.
ON THE ROAD
Does it live up to the hype? Yes and no. The LC is impressively comfortable over bumpy back roads despite riding on massive 21-inch wheels wrapped in Michelin run-flat tyres.
balance of the body and the way car feels corners is up there with best, although optional “sports” steering too sharp for our rippled roads.
The brakes are among the largest ever fitted to a production car — front discs 400mm in diameter and incredibly responsive
fade resistant. Lexus says the V8 does the 0-100km/h dash 4.7 seconds;
V6 hybrid isn’t far behind with 5.0 seconds. However using our satellite based timing equipment (under supervision) the best we could extract from V8 was 5.1 secs, hybrid 5.3. Aided by a 10-speed auto, these are respectable times (marginally quicker than the Mustang and Commodore SS)
once would have been regarded as quick.
But the Lexus twins, each costing $190,000 plus on-roads, are not in same league as German sports cars with similar price tags and sub 4.0-second sprint times.
An unusual beast, the LC500h is the first Lexus hybrid that can spin rear wheels. Its V6 (related to engine in the Toyota Kluger) is paired to a transmission houses two electric motors (one for drive and one for regenerative braking) alongside a four-speed torque converter auto.
But it has in effect 10 ratios (by using an adjacent planetary gear set) and slurs gear changes much like a constantly variable transmission. As Lexus explains it: “The multi-stage shift device changes the output in four stages (but in drive it has) simulated shift control pattern that replicates feel of driving with a 10-speed.”
The hybrid accelerates to 60km/h as quickly as the V8 (2.7 seconds) but loses a little ground to 100km/h.
The high-revving V8 (redline 7300rpm) sounds like a NASCAR engine. It’s awesome, a highlight of the car.
Also impressive is cabin’s quality, fit and finish, from leather stitching to real alloy knobs cabin switches.
The hi-tech digital instrument display (inspired by the LF-A sports car) is up there with best in the business.
Downsides? Lexus cabin controller — a touchpad
is still incredibly frustrating and borderline dangerous to operate on the move. needs to scrap this flawed design start again.
And, as in a Porsche 911, the two tiny rear seats are for briefcases and handbags. There’s no way you’re getting a human there. If you want four-seater, look elsewhere.
This is the Lexus brand’s style statement and opinion changer. With its futuristic design, it looks faster than goes. Buyers won’t mind. It sounds the part