Lexus LC500

More style than sub­stance – but what style!

Motor (Australia) - - MOTOR PERFORMANCE CAR OF THE YEAR - – TR

WHEN YOU’VE got a 5.0-litre V8, rear-wheel drive and more at­ti­tude than Mariah Carey in an air­port queue, you’d nat­u­rally equate that to some­thing with the chutz­pah to back it up, right? Well…

As far as looks go, the Lexus LC500 has got it shot to bits. Peo­ple are – quite lit­er­ally – fall­ing over to get a bet­ter look at this es­capee from a de­signer’s on­line fan­tasy league death match. But – and it’s a big but – the 500’s 351kW and 540Nm is ir­re­vo­ca­bly blunted by an al­most two-tonne curb weight. It’s an up­hill bat­tle. The Lexus is last but one to both 0-100km/h and 400m, and equal last be­tween 80-120km/h too – not to men­tion its rel­a­tively tardy 1:38.6 lap time. The weird thing is that it sim­ply doesn’t feel this slow.

Be­hind the wheel on the track, it’s all fire and brim­stone with a sound­track that, as Editor Dy­lan puts it, is nabbed straight from NAS­CAR. “Ev­ery sin­gle per­son here should be made to pluck at least two gears at full throt­tle in it. It’s that good,” Dy­lan said.

And who are we to dis­agree? The power of the atmo eight doesn’t over­whelm the chas­sis, though, and it steers with aplomb around lit­tle Win­ton, de­spite its girth. The dig­i­tal gauge smacks its marks right in your eye­line, but the trac­tion con­trol light is al­most as busy, de­spite switch­ing into the sporti­est mode.

The rear end is a bit un­der­damped, sure, but ul­ti­mately the en­gine doesn’t have the torque to over­come the com­bi­na­tion of grip and 1935kg, so the trac­tion con­trol lock­down could ease up a lit­tle, for sure. Find the se­cret code to switch sta­bil­ity and trac­tion con­trol all the way off, though (hint – bring the car to a com­plete stop), and the LC500 comes to life, es­pe­cially out on the road.

This trick serves me well as I… err, me­an­der gen­tly back up our hill loop, with the long-throw throt­tle and beau­ti­fully lin­ear power delivery play­ing to the strengths of the vault-stiff chas­sis. Without those way­too-con­ser­va­tive chas­sis elec­tron­ics get­ting in the way, the LC500 flows like mer­cury from cor­ner to cor­ner, the V8’s sonorous howl curl­ing neck hairs for days.

Ul­ti­mately, the LC500 is an as­ton­ish­ing achieve­ment. It’s beau­ti­ful to look at and beau­ti­ful to sit in, even though the er­gonomics can bor­der on the ob­tuse – try and find the seat heaters in less than 10 min­utes – and the gear shifter de­sign is truly aw­ful. Some reckon it’s still got too much Toy­ota left in it, too. At the end of the day, the stop­watch told most of the tale of the LC: it’s not that quick, even though it feels like it.

Be­hind the wheel the NAS­CAR sound­track is all fire and brim­stone, but it’s just not that quick

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