BUZZ BANISHES DRONE
WEIGHT SPARE 0-100KM/H remain in the Lexus catalogue for much longer.
As in the LFA, the LC’s frontmounted engine turns the rear wheels but the new coupe is propelled by a 5.0-litre V8 or a petrol-electric drivetrain with a 3.5-litre V6. Both will be available when the LC reaches Australia in May. Lexus Australia chief Peter McGregor says prices have not been finalised. The coupe is classy and obviously costly, so figures as high as $200,000 are possible.
McGregor expects the 500 V8 version to be much more popular and estimates it will outsell the hybrid 500h three or four to one.
The LC 500 is the more satisfying choice — it has way more power, sounds much better and lives up to the promise of the coupe’s styling.
Staged in southern Spain, the LC launch included time on a racetrack as well as public roads. Even though sometimes heavy rain put a damper on lap times it didn’t conceal the performance advantage of the 351kW V8.
It’s the kind of performance engine that’s becoming rare. The Japanese V8 relies on big capacity and high revs instead of turbochargers and smaller cylinders to produce power.
The LC is the first Lexus equipped with an active exhaust — and with its mufflers uncorked the V8 sounds magnificent. Especially when spinning up to 7100rpm, where max power is delivered.
Ten ratios mean the V8, lacking the broad torque spread of a turbo, will always be in the sweet part of its rev range.
The slippery circuit outside Seville also highlighted the LC 500’s superb handling.
Here, at last, is a Lexus with lovely steering — it’s direct, evenly weighted and gives the driver real feedback. When the front end inevitably began to slip, the message was relayed loud and clear through the leather-wrapped rim of the LC’s steering wheel.
With the 21-inch Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber fitted on Australia-bound cars, racetrack grip was impressive. The chassis inspired confidence, too. With the sportiest driving mode selected to loosen the grip of the electronic nannies, the LC could be made to gracefully slide its rear end.
The LC is the first model from Lexus built on an all-new architecture codenamed GA-L. Lexus claims improvements in stiffness, suspension sophistication and weight distribution — but in this instance, the benefits can truly be felt from behind the wheel.
They’re equally apparent on public roads. With the softest drive mode selected and the corks back in the mufflers, the LC 500 is satisfyingly speedy, yet comfortable and relaxed.
One of the most beautifully IT’S not as fast as the V8-powered 500 but compared to most other hybrids the LC 500h is a thriller. Maximum output of the petrolelectric drivetrain is 264kW, most of it from the 3.5-litre V6. The extra mass of the electrical components means the hybrid weighs more than the already hefty 500, though Lexus claims it covers the 0-100km/h sprint in exactly 5.0 seconds, against the V8’s 4.7 secs. The 500h doesn’t sound like a typical hybrid, either. By adding a planetary gear to the pair of motor-generator units in the transmission, Lexus engineers make it mimic a 10-speed auto. It can’t perfectly imitate a conventional auto but the new Multi Stage Hybrid System banishes the drone that’s a turn-off for many drivers. crafted interiors yet created by Lexus makes the LC’s interior a very pleasant place to spend time. Behind the steering wheel is a screen-based instrument display with a large, LFA-like dial as its centrepiece.
The lines of the asymmetric leather-clad dash flowing into the door trims are soothing and what looks like metal is, unlike in some other cars, just that.
There are four seats but the rear pair are best regarded as padded parcel shelves. Legroom back there is almost nonexistent with full-size adults upfront. The cargo compartment is also very small, even though run-flat tyres mean the Lexus doesn’t have to accommodate a spare.
The LC is a lavishly equipped car, fitted with Lexus’s latest hi-tech safety, driver-aid, handling-enhancement and infotainment kit. Still, Lexus Australia plans to have a bundle of options that includes a carbon-fibre roof, active rear spoiler, variable steering rack, rear steering, sports front seats and Alcantara trim.
There was a time when spending up on sporty additions for a Lexus was as futile and tragic as buying a cheap hairpiece. This was beginning to change even before the LC but this coupe proclaims, louder and prouder than anything before, that the brand genuinely provides an alternative to Europe’s finest.