2018 Lexus LC 500

Automobile - - All - Stars 2018 -

When the Lexus LF-LC con­cept—the car that would be­come the LC 500— rolled onto the floor of the 2012 North Amer­i­can In­ter­na­tional Auto Show, the buzz was louder than a bee­hive af­ter be­ing whacked like a piñata. Sure, Lexus had built the LFA, but that was a V-10-pow­ered, car­bon-fiber-clad, rel­a­tively un­ob­tain­able su­per­car—and it wasn’t ex­actly gor­geous.

Styled in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia by the com­pany’s Calty stu­dio, the LF-LC pre­saged a de­cid­edly more at­tain­able flag­ship coupe wear­ing what was the most ex­pres­sive ver­sion yet of the brand’s now-ubiq­ui­tous spin­dle grille and L-shaped head­lamp styling cues. Toy­ota CEO Akio Toy­oda wanted to bring some sexy to Lexus, and the Calty team didn’t dis­ap­point the boss.

Although it took some time for the LC to make it to pro­duc­tion, the end re­sult was a dead ringer for the con­cept on the out­side. Not that any­one com­plained about that, in­clud­ing our own Cum­ber­ford. While he picked some nits with the de­sign as a whole,

Putting the LC Into GT

Cum­ber­ford lauded its pro­por­tions in our pre­vi­ous is­sue (“that stance tho,” in to­day’s par­lance).

“Amaz­ing looks that cause ev­ery­one to gawk,” re­marked fea­tures edi­tor Rory Jur­necka of the In­frared-sprayed LC with a car­bon-fiber roof we tested. Even those of us who aren’t fans of the Lexus mug be­grudg­ingly gave it some props. “The ugly Lexus nose works on the LC much bet­ter than on its other prod­ucts,” No­orde­loos said.

Praise was more uni­ver­sal for its lav­ishly ap­pointed cabin. “The LC

500’s in­te­rior feels like a Gucci by Tom Ford space­ship tele­ported from the 1970s,” Wasef opined. In typ­i­cal GT style, you’re not go­ing to fit any adults in the rear seats, but the kid­dos would be fine back there, as would some gear for a long week­end. The front seats are em­i­nently com­fort­able for ex­tended jour­neys while also be­ing snug enough for more ag­gres­sive driv­ing—at least the Al­can­tara-swathed buck­ets that were part of the test car’s op­tional $5,960 Per­for­mance pack­age. About the only de­merit any­one is­sued was for the Lexus hap­tic touch­pad and con­troller setup, which, like the grille, is an ac­quired taste.

Dy­nam­i­cally, the LC 500 is a car you need to put into con­text. Again, this is a GT, not a balls-to-the-wall, track-at­tack­ing su­per sports coupe, though we bet an F ver­sion could be if Lexus de­vel­ops one. (LC race cars have al­ready com­peted and won in Ja­pan’s Su­per GT se­ries.) Lexus is one of the few car­mak­ers left that of­fers mod­els with a nat­u­rally aspi­rated V-8, in this case a 5.0-liter unit with 471 horse­power and 398 lb-ft of torque hooked up to a 10-speed au­to­matic with mag­ne­sium pad­dle shifters. (A greener LC 500h fea­tur­ing a 3.5-liter V-6 with 354 to­tal hy­brid system horse­power is also avail­able.)

The V-8 won’t send any­one to the chi­ro­prac­tor af­ter you put your foot to the floor, but it’s no slouch cow­er­ing in the corner, ei­ther. It sounds down­right mean at times. Throw it into Sport+ mode, and the LC pre­dictably sharp­ens up. Its ac­tive rear-steer fea­ture (also part of the Per­for­mance pack­age) helped keep what is a rel­a­tively heavy car lap­ping pretty well on the track.

“It makes nice noises, es­pe­cially the blip on down­shifts—pure race car,” Pil­grim said. “Solid, pre­dictable han­dling on the street, and it’s not bad on the track con­sid­er­ing its mass.”

A cou­ple of edi­tors had some is­sues with the steer­ing feel near its lim­its, but the open road is where the LC will do most of its roam­ing and where it does its best work. At 92 large to start, this car will not sell in bulk. Rather, this is a coupe that wears the crown, a car that Mr. Toy­oda can point to and say the team nailed the brief.

“The LC 500 is a halo prod­uct Lexus should be proud of,” con­trib­u­tor Chris Nel­son said. “The grand tourer has an­i­mated styling, ex­em­plary fit and fin­ish, and lav­ish trim with a tac­tile feel. On the high­way, it’s ef­fort­less and heav­enly.” It’s also a car we’re proud to call a 2018 All-Star. AM

BY MIKE FLOYD

PRICE: $92,995/$105,710 (base/as tested) EN­GINE: 5.0L DOHC 32-valve V-8/471 hp @ 7,100 rpm, 398 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm TRANS­MIS­SION: 10-speed au­to­matic LAY­OUT: 2-door, 4-pas­sen­ger, front-en­gine, RWD coupe EPA MILEAGE: 19/26 mpg (city/hwy) L X W X...

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