Sweet and Lowdown

Driving through Ibiza in thelexus LC 500

- By Peter Saltsman

YOU HEAR A LOT OF stories about Ibiza — about what happens at the Spanish island’s famous all-night dance clubs, or in the villas in the hills, or on the beach late at night. You hear about people achieving ecstasy and falling in love — but you rarely hear about it in reference to a car. But most cars aren’t the Lexus LC 500.

Lexus may be a premiere luxury automaker, but the Japanese brand has never been synonymous with sports cars. The LC 500, a stunning new 2+2 coupe, is meant to be their new flagship — a head-turner of the kind it hasn’t had since the LFA.

The car first appeared as a concept at the 2012 Detroit auto show, where it won rave reviews, and the resulting street version looks almost exactly the same. It sits low — as does the driver — and wide, prowling the road with a long, snarling hood and high, muscular tail. It’s meant to be a sports car, boasting a 5.0 litre V8 engine capable of pumping out 471 horsepower, all funnelled through a seamless 10-speed automatic transmissi­on. Rev the engine and it sounds like a party. This is appropriat­e, as we’re in the party capital of the world — a sunsoaked island that most people never even see during the day. But for those who don’t give in to those tantalizin­g nocturnal impulses, Ibiza also has some of the best driving roads in Europe. Breezy curves give way to ocean views, then to exotic white-knuckle twists, then to unpoliced straightaw­ays and back again towards the ocean. Despite the automotive music and the backdrop, this is not a party car — not really.

This is a car you could — and will want to — drive every day. It is, above all other possible descriptor­s, comfortabl­e. The ride is overwhelmi­ngly refined — stiff but not overly rigid, even in the most finely tuned Sport Plus driving mode. You might even call it smooth, if that didn’t sound insulting to a two-seater. The interior borrows less from other sports cars and more from Lexus’s undisputed expertise in luxury sedans; the cabin is bathed in supple leather and suede, wrapping you like a hug as you lean into the car’s raw power. It is also remarkably quiet — a trademark of Lexus that carries through even to its most raucous offering. This is especially true of my favourite iteration, the LC 500h, a hybrid that pairs a 3.5-litre V6 engine with two electric motors and still manages to crank out a fully serviceabl­e (that is: fun) 354 horsepower — a car that allows you the surreal experience of cruising at 150 km/h (some things should probably stay in Ibiza) and hearing absolutely nothing. Lexus and parent company Toyota have always been innovators in the field of hybrid technology, but this version takes it to another level, shifting seamlessly between power sources — and gears — with truly impressive results.

After a few days driving around the coast, I wanted to take the LC 500 home with me. Which, let’s be honest, isn’t how most stories about passionate encounters in Ibiza end. I’m glad that’s how this one did.

 ??  ?? Engine 5.0 litre V8/ 3.5 litre V6 Hybrid Power 471 hp, 354 hp Price From $101,600
Engine 5.0 litre V8/ 3.5 litre V6 Hybrid Power 471 hp, 354 hp Price From $101,600

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