Lux­ury coupe swoops

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - CRUISE CONTROL | -

THE new Lexus lux­ury sports coupe flag­ship has swept into town to show­case the com­ple­tion of Lexus of Cairns’ new show­room.

The LC500 is not for sale but is avail­able for test drives for a lim­ited pe­riod.

Sales man­ager Grant Wool­cock said one was on or­der for a cus­tomer.

“We also have a cou­ple of other cus­tomers in­ter­ested in this ve­hi­cle cur­rently,” he said.

The $202,106 car is the world’s first pro­duc­tion model with a 10-speed au­to­matic.

Nine-speed trans­mis­sions are now rel­a­tively com­mon, in brands as di­verse as Fiat, Jeep, Land Rover and Mercedes — but Lexus is the first to take the ra­tio race into dou­ble fig­ures.

That gear­box isn’t the only thing that’s noteworthy about the LC. This pow­er­ful two-door is the best-look­ing and the best­driv­ing Lexus in a long time.

Bet­ter still, the com­pany says the LC pro­vides a first taste of its new de­sign di­rec­tion and engi­neer­ing phi­los­o­phy. There’s more to come, in other words.

The LC’s ex­te­rior style was pre­viewed by the LF-LC con­cept re­vealed at the 2012 Detroit mo­tor show. The show car bor­rowed cues from Lexus’s LFA, the ul­tra-ex­otic, lim­it­ed­pro­duc­tion, V10-pow­ered su­per­car in­tro­duced in 2010.

Only 500 LFAs were pro­duced over a two-year pe­riod but the new LC will be made by the thou­sands and 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. Lexus Aus­tralia chief Peter 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 21in 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 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 LC is a lav­ishly equipped car, in­clud­ing an asym­met­ric leather-clad dash flow­ing into the door trims, the lat­est hitech safety, driver-aids, han­dling-en­hance­ment and an in­fo­tain­ment kit. Still there are op­tions, in­clud­ing a car­bon­fi­bre roof, an ac­tive rear spoiler, a vari­able steer­ing rack, rear steer­ing, sports front seats and Al­can­tara trim.

SATUR­DAY JUJULY 8 2017

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