Sassy GT driven to be seen and heard
LAUNCH NEWS/ Lexus’s LC500 is thorough luxury with the looks to match its raucous engine note, writes Lerato Matebese
When Lexus unveiled the LF-LC concept at the New York motor show in 2012, it showcased a new design direction for the brand, something the LFA supercar teased when it was launched a few years ago.
In the case of the LF-LC, which has now spawned the production version of that concept dubbed the LC500, the L-Finesse design language is even more obvious. Motor News recently attended the local launch of the new model in the Western Cape to see whether its flamboyant looks have the substance to go with it.
The model looks every bit the same as the LF-LC concept and the details need to be viewed in real life to truly appreciate the design feat. The headlights have a jewel-type design while the 21-inch wheels and rear lights, with their 3D effect, seem to have been lifted wholesale from the concept too. are typical of the brand, with some quirky elements such as the analogue clock and the touchpad which controls the infotainment system. Meanwhile the dash has been given a wraparound design, which works well. However, I would recommend a slightly lighter hue for the rest of the interior as the sea of black and grey dulls the overall classy cabin. I would opt for Dark Rose (red) or Ochre (tan) instead, which are much livelier.
While the model is essentially a two-plus-two, the rear seats are the preserve of small children or a box of Champagne — and little else.
In the interests of weight saving and to lower the vehicle’s centre of gravity, a carbon-fibre roof has been adopted, which also looks cool.
Motivation comes in the form of the company’s 5.0l V8 normally aspirated engine, which is welcome in an era where downsizing and turbocharging has become the order of the day. Essentially a similar engine that powered the IS-F sports saloon, the engine has been tweaked with upgraded pistons and inlets and has direct (at high engine revs) and indirect (at low engine revs) fuel injection to produce 351kW and 540Nm, which are healthy figures for a vehicle of this displacement and aspiration. It is said to take 4.7 seconds to complete the 0-100km/h sprint and goes on to a top speed of 270km/h.
Push the engine start button and it fires up with a belly roar that quickly settles into a smooth idle. Power is transferred to the rear wheels via a 10-speed automatic gearbox, which is essentially a four-speed automatic with virtual steps in between. It is a fairly responsive gearbox for a conventional torque converter unit, shifting quickly up and down the gears, particularly in Sport+ mode.
Granted, it is not a sports car in the mould of the Porsche 911 and this becomes quite evident on a winding road such as that of Franschhoek Pass, where hurling the vehicle into corners with verve is not the model’s forte. Instead, this is a fast GT that will gobble up the kilometres in relative comfort, the latter further accentuated by the multilink rear suspension that gives a fairly supple ride in spite of the 21-inch tyres.
So where does the car fit in the grand scheme of things? Well, it has no pretensions of deposing the Porsche 911 and rather competes with cars such as the BMW 650i coupe as a rapid, comfortable GT. However, I feel the Lexus has more soul than the Beemer thanks to that atmospheric V8 that thrives on revs and sounds the business.
Then, of course, there is that design language that looks like nothing else on the road and judging by the number of onlookers and positive nods during the launch drive will guarantee you never travel incognito.
Then there is the price tag, which at R1,729,600 places it smack in Porsche 911 GTS territory, which retails for R1,768,000. Personally, I would go for the German sports car as it manages to fit the sports car and GT bill, not to mention having a more favourable residual value.
However, for those who are not bothered by resale value and want to throw caution to the wind and drive a vehicle that will elicit attention and remain exclusive, with only 40 units initially coming to SA in 2017, the Lexus LC500 is your car.
And the fact it is one of the last bastions of a normally aspirated V8 model adds to its potential to become a classic.
Above: The Lexus LC500 is stunning from every angle. Right: The LC will be a rare sight but not one anyone will miss.
The interior is not as exciting in its design in black, but there are much better trim colour options.
Sport+ enables you to get the most out of the car and enjoy the best sound.