It’s got soul, mate

The LC is proof Lexus can do siz­zle and sen­si­ble

Wheels (Australia) - - Our Garage - ALEX INWOOD

SOME­THING good is hap­pen­ing at Lexus. Af­ter years of build­ing cars de­signed to ap­peal to the ra­tio­nal side of our brains, or to peo­ple who en­joy golf and lawn bowls, the com­pany is steadily shak­ing free of its snoozer shack­les.

My first en­counter with this shift in phi­los­o­phy came a few years ago at the launch of the then-new RC F in Amer­ica. Lexus had taken the bold step of hold­ing the event at a cir­cuit, and while the RC F wasn’t quite as sharp as a BMW M4 or AMG C63 (blame a circa 2000kg kerb weight), its revhun­gry V8 and de­sire to blaze its rear rub­ber to smithereen­s left an in­deli­ble mark. It wasn’t just ex­cit­ing; it was fun too.

Then came an en­tire day at Sandown with a Lexus LFA, which didn’t just va­por­ise any pre­con­cep­tions I had about the brand, but for­ever etched the howl of ten scream­ing cylin­ders into my brain as the dig­i­tal tacho crested 9000rpm.

My bright yel­low LC is fur­ther proof that the foun­da­tions are shift­ing, if grad­u­ally, at Lexus HQ. While last month was spent in Com­fort mode, where I mar­velled at the hushed cabin and sur­pris­ingly sup­ple and con­trolled ride on those huge, con­cept-car wheels, month two has seen me ex­plore the LC’S an­grier side by tog­gling the drive-mode se­lec­tor to Sport+.

The change it brings is dra­matic and un­ex­pect­edly shouty. Sud­denly the big 5.0-litre V8, which had been happy to qui­etly rus­tle into life and slip ef­fort­lessly through city traf­fic, feels ra­zor sharp and, with your right foot planted, verges on manic. Even the 10-speed au­to­matic gear­box comes to the party, with up­shifts ham­mered home with an au­thor­ity and speed that isn’t far off a dual-clutch.

The real high­light, how­ever, comes when you pull the left shift pad­dle and dis­cover down­shifts aren’t just as fast, but are sur­pris­ingly crisp. The noise is bril­liant too: I’ve found my­self cy­cling through the gears just to hear the big V8 roar and then crackle and gar­gle on the over­run.

It has soul this en­gine. Lexus could have fol­lowed the down­siz­ing trend and fit­ted the LC with the twin-turbo V6 found in the new LS, but I’m glad it didn’t. The V8 gives the LC the per­son­al­ity it needs to match its fu­tur­is­tic styling. It feels like a mus­cle car which, given its hefty 1920kg kerb weight, wide 275-sec­tion rear tyres and healthy thirst, it kind of is. And who’d have thought that about a Lexus?

LIT FUSE Strate­gi­cally placed mir­rors in the tail-lights cre­ate an in­fi­nite ‘af­ter­burner’ ef­fect. It looks in­cred­i­ble at night

LEXUS LC 500 Date ac­quired: Septem­ber 2017 Price as tested: $190,000 This month: 1101km @ 13.2L/100km Over­all: 1667km @ 13.4L/100km

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