High-End Lexus Coupe Shows Off Fu­tur­is­tic New Look

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL - Derek Price cargaz­ing.com

If you’re a Hol­ly­wood star­let who just signed a ma­jor movie deal, you’re in luck. Lexus has just the car for you.

It’s called the LC, and it’s one of the most stun­ningly styled cars to be un­veiled in years. Sleek, sexy and al­most alien look­ing in pro­file, it’s a dra­matic change from the rolling sleep aids that have plagued the lux­ury mar­ket for the past eight years.

Af­ter the great re­ces­sion, high-end buy­ers seemed to shy away from cars that looked too flashy. No­body wanted to catch the ire of Bernie San­ders and Oc­cupy Wall Street, I sup­pose, which is why lux­ury mod­els have more or less looked like reg­u­lar fam­ily cars lately, per­haps with a slightly big­ger grille and a bit more chrome.

But just look at this thing. It screams, “The re­ces­sion is over, baby!”

That’s why if you just signed a multi-pic­ture deal with 20th Cen­tury Fox — or want to look like you did — and have around $100,000 burn­ing a hole in your de­signer-jeans pocket, you can buy this lux­ury coupe that ac­tu­ally turns heads.

To be clear, the LC is first and fore­most about high fash­ion. It looks like a Lexus con­cept car built for the auto show cir­cuit with a miles-long hood, un­usual door han­dles that hide flush with the body, a wild back end and a slop­ing roofline that seems to lev­i­tate above the rest of the car.

The over­all look ab­so­lutely works. It’s rolling sculp­ture. It’s pheromones stamped into steel.

The sculp­tural theme con­tin­ues on the in­side with carved-out arm­rests and a very con­tem­po­rary lay­out that would look per­fectly at home in an art mu­seum. It’s modern and clean, al­most Scan­di­na­vian in ap­pear­ance.

Look deeper than the styling, though, and I start to have some con­cerns about it.

One is the way it drives. While my LC 500h tester is one of the most ex­hil­a­rat­ing hy­brids I’ve ever pi­loted — mainly thanks to its new-gen­er­a­tion Multi Stage Hy­brid Sys­tem that in­ge­niously gives the driver a faster throt­tle re­sponse — that’s a bit like say­ing I went to the best school in Mis­sis­sippi. It’s not some­thing peo­ple gen­er­ally brag about.

The hy­brid LC feels ster­ile and safe from the driver’s seat, which is not un­usual for a Lexus but a bit dis­ap­point­ing for a car that looks so danger­ous and thrilling on the out­side. Even with aug­mented en­gine sounds pump­ing through the speak­ers and “Sport+” mode en­gaged, there’s only so much Lexus can do to make the 3.5-liter V6 feel dif­fer­ent than it does in the Toy­ota Camry.

I have a feel­ing I’d en­joy driv­ing the V8-pow­ered LC 500 much more than my hy­brid tester, which com­bines the V6 with elec­tric mo­tors to make a re­spectable 354 horse­power at a start­ing price over $96,000. The faster, 471-horse­power V8 ver­sion looks like a bar­gain in com­par­i­son at $92 grand.

I’m also con­cerned about Lexus’ next-gen­er­a­tion dig­i­tal in­ter­face in this car. It uses a touch­pad to con­trol a cur­sor on the screen as if it’s a 1996 Hewlett-Packard lap­top. That’s dif­fi­cult enough when you’re op­er­at­ing a com­puter while sit­ting still at home, so do­ing the same thing while driv­ing over bumpy roads is ab­so­lutely mad­den­ing. I don’t un­der­stand how any­one at Lexus thought this could be a good idea.

If you can look past the touch­pad, the dig­i­tal sys­tem it­self is fine. It re­sponds quickly to your in­puts. The graph­ics are gor­geous. The screen is crisp and easy to read.

While the front pas­sen­gers will be treated to lux­u­ri­ous leg room and spa­cious, sup­port­ive, eas­ily ad­justable seats, the back-seat pas­sen­gers will have to tol­er­ate sec­ond-class sta­tus. The slop­ing roofline that looks so gor­geous re­ally eats into their head room and oc­ca­sion­ally bumps their nog­gins.

That’s the price to pay, though, for driv­ing a street-le­gal show car.

Stun­ning from any an­gle, the new Lexus LC coupe looks sleek and fu­tur­is­tic. With a start­ing price over $90,000, it sits atop Lexus’ 2018 lineup and shows off the brand’s fu­ture di­rec­tion.

Bulky hand grips are a fun — and some­times use­ful — touch in the LC’s cabin. Much like its body, the in­te­rior of this car has a sculp­tural look with carved-out arm­rests and strik­ing lines.

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