Luxury coupe swoops
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.