The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Prestige -

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.

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