AUTOart Lexus LC500
Futuristic Luxury Coupe That Pays Tribute to Lexus’ Past
Ever since Lexus concluded production on its LFA super coupe at the end of 2012, the company has been in search of an identity. The car was a worldclass performer and a technical marvel, but it was hardly approachable to the masses. Only 500 were produced—at a price of nearly $400,000 each.
Still, Lexus still lost money on each one! Not surprisingly, the company announced it had no plans to build a replacement, and for five years thereafter, Lexus focused on luxury vehicles and left only the memory of the
LFA to uphold its performance reputation. But by 2017, that reputation was fading. When it decided to reenter the realm of sports coupes, it looked not to the supercar LFA for inspiration but 20 years further back to its early days. In 1991, Lexus had introduced only its third model: the SC (Sports Coupe). Borrowing a V-8 from the LS sedan, the SC was a successful blend of stylish luxury and sport, and was hugely popular—and profitable!—throughout the 1990s. That formula—a V-8 from the luxury sedan dropped into a sexy coupe body graced with equal parts luxury and sport— has struck gold again with this luscious metallic yellow LC500. But for the new generation, Lexus has taken the style, technology, and performance to new heights, making it a little bit of everything one could want in a coupe.
AUTOart has embraced style and technology in its new generation of composite models, using a blend of high-tech materials to produce models with beautiful finishes, meticulous detail, and an impressive list of opening panels and functional features. The LC500 is one of the newest, and we chose the newest—and most vibrant— color. Lexus calls it “Flare Yellow,” and it will be offered as a special color option later in 2018, but AUTOart has it already (called simply “Metallic Yellow” in its catalogue), so that’s how we spec’d ours out. The metal flake that AUTOart uses is super-fine, giving the car a splendid glow. This is the Sport version with the Performance Package—the most technically advanced and most potent version of the LC, with features like 4-wheel steering and active aerodynamics. You can tell because the model includes both the carbon-fiber roof panel and the speedsensitive active rear spoiler. The latter is particularly impressive on the model because it moves on tiny scale hinges—one benefit of the composite material, which allows thinner castings and tighter tolerances than metal. There is plenty of metal elsewhere on the model, notably on the chrome trim around the grille, roof strips, and rear valence. That grille is hard to miss. Lexus has fully embraced its controversial “spindle” design language; on some models, it leaves the front end looking a little like a whale shark with braces, but LC’s version is more sculpted and actually looks pretty good. AUTOart’s use of progressive weave mesh certainly maximizes accuracy.
The interior is just as accurate, starting with the deeply sculpted door skins. They ride on metal hinges, but the doors and the mounts are plastic, and this is one place where the absence of a metal body is felt. If you don’t close the doors firmly, they may not seat properly. Aside from that, the interior is nearly perfect. A variable-thickness multifunction steering wheel has its buttons and switchgear molded in and picked out with paint highlights. Behind it are the magnesium shifter paddles actuating the 10-speed automatic transmission, which also has a sculpted lever on the center console. The interior uses textured plastic to simulate the dark gray Alcantara and seats with extra wing bolsters, which are also part of the Performance Package. Detail on the instrument panel—a customizable 8-inch LCD display that takes the place of traditional
gauges—is excellent. Even the headliner is textured properly.
Bucking the trend of modern vehicles, the LC500’s engine actually gives you something to look at. The 5.0L V-8 makes a robust 471hp, enough to hustle the coupe to 60mph in just over four seconds—just a couple ticks behind that wild LFA for about a quarter of the price! There’s a molded cover on the variablegeometry intake manifold, but you can clearly see the aluminum cylinder heads and much of the plumbing in the model. The bodycolored cast-aluminum shock towers are a thing of beauty too, and they even have the correct chassis braces attached. More of AUTOart’s gorgeous scale hinges—complete with simulated pneumatic struts—are on display here, and unlike many such scale-accurate pieces, they don’t sacrifice usable throw for looks. The trunk opens and on similar hinges. There is flocked carpeting inside but little else— although while you’re back there, take a moment to admire both the moving spoiler and the etched badges and scripts on the rear fascia.
We’ve often raved about AUTOart’s rolling stock, and the LC’s shows exactly why.
The casting and chrome work on the Performance Package– specific 21-inch forged wheels is outstanding; they even got the black wheel centers and alternate spoke gaps correct. Inside those spoke gaps are highly detailed metal brake discs and calipers with “Lexus” stenciled on them. The precisely molded tires have “Michelin” sidewall markings and excellent tread patterns.
The LC500 represents a return to form for Lexus, blending the brand’s traditional strengths of luxury and styling with a healthy dose of performance to yield a sports coupe worthy of flagship status. Lexus has even geared up a GT-class racing program based on the LC to help cement its performance credentials. AUTOart’s rendition is a real beauty, capturing the dramatic lines and intricate stylistic elements that have rekindled interest in the Lexus brand by enthusiasts. We’d like to see a bit more stiffness in the door operation, but aside from that, this 1:18 LC500 fires on all cylinders. AUTOart offers it in four colors (so far), but our favorite is definitely this special Flare Yellow version.
The LC500 flirts with supercar status thanks to its 471hp V-8. AUTOart gives us plenty to look at, with visible cylinder heads, engine plumbing, and gorgeous scale hood hinges.
AUTOart delivers on the multifunction steering wheel and customizable LCD instrument panel display.