Sweet and Lowdown

Driv­ing through Ibiza in thelexus LC 500

Sharp - - CARS - By Pe­ter Saltsman

YOU HEAR A LOT OF sto­ries about Ibiza — about what hap­pens at the Span­ish is­land’s fa­mous all-night dance clubs, or in the vil­las in the hills, or on the beach late at night. You hear about peo­ple achiev­ing ec­stasy and fall­ing in love — but you rarely hear about it in ref­er­ence to a car. But most cars aren’t the Lexus LC 500.

Lexus may be a pre­miere lux­ury au­tomaker, but the Ja­panese brand has never been syn­ony­mous with sports cars. The LC 500, a stun­ning new 2+2 coupe, is meant to be their new flag­ship — a head-turner of the kind it hasn’t had since the LFA.

The car first ap­peared as a con­cept at the 2012 Detroit auto show, where it won rave re­views, and the re­sult­ing street ver­sion looks al­most ex­actly the same. It sits low — as does the driver — and wide, prowl­ing the road with a long, snarling hood and high, mus­cu­lar tail. It’s meant to be a sports car, boast­ing a 5.0 litre V8 engine ca­pa­ble of pump­ing out 471 horse­power, all fun­nelled through a seam­less 10-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. Rev the engine and it sounds like a party. This is ap­pro­pri­ate, as we’re in the party cap­i­tal of the world — a sun­soaked is­land that most peo­ple never even see dur­ing the day. But for those who don’t give in to those tan­ta­liz­ing noc­tur­nal im­pulses, Ibiza also has some of the best driv­ing roads in Europe. Breezy curves give way to ocean views, then to ex­otic white-knuckle twists, then to un­po­liced straight­aways and back again to­wards the ocean. De­spite the automotive mu­sic and the back­drop, this is not a party car — not re­ally.

This is a car you could — and will want to — drive ev­ery day. It is, above all other pos­si­ble de­scrip­tors, com­fort­able. The ride is over­whelm­ingly re­fined — stiff but not overly rigid, even in the most finely tuned Sport Plus driv­ing mode. You might even call it smooth, if that didn’t sound in­sult­ing to a two-seater. The in­te­rior bor­rows less from other sports cars and more from Lexus’s undis­puted ex­per­tise in lux­ury sedans; the cabin is bathed in sup­ple leather and suede, wrap­ping you like a hug as you lean into the car’s raw power. It is also re­mark­ably quiet — a trade­mark of Lexus that car­ries through even to its most rau­cous of­fer­ing. This is es­pe­cially true of my favourite it­er­a­tion, the LC 500h, a hy­brid that pairs a 3.5-litre V6 engine with two elec­tric mo­tors and still man­ages to crank out a fully ser­vice­able (that is: fun) 354 horse­power — a car that al­lows you the sur­real ex­pe­ri­ence of cruising at 150 km/h (some things should prob­a­bly stay in Ibiza) and hear­ing ab­so­lutely noth­ing. Lexus and par­ent com­pany Toy­ota have al­ways been in­no­va­tors in the field of hy­brid tech­nol­ogy, but this ver­sion takes it to an­other level, shift­ing seam­lessly be­tween power sources — and gears — with truly im­pres­sive re­sults.

Af­ter a few days driv­ing around the coast, I wanted to take the LC 500 home with me. Which, let’s be hon­est, isn’t how most sto­ries about pas­sion­ate en­coun­ters in Ibiza end. I’m glad that’s how this one did.

Engine 5.0 litre V8/ 3.5 litre V6 Hy­brid Power 471 hp, 354 hp Price From $101,600

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