AUTOart Lexus LC500

Fu­tur­is­tic Lux­ury Coupe That Pays Trib­ute to Lexus’ Past

Die Cast X - - OUT OF THE BOX -

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.

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