In putting together the 2018 Lexus LC 500, the Lexus design team cleared the table and started from scratch. The LC 500 is the production version of the LF-LC concept car, exhibited first at the 2012 NAIAS, and it is a muscular, rear-drive coupe with a fresh set of lines and a powerful, imposing presence.
How this radical departure in design and appearance happened was simply because the designers at Lexus did indeed start from scratch, using no borrowed features or recycled platforms, but just a clean sheet of paper and a totally fresh concept.
The 2018 LC displays the signature Lexus spindle grille, a striking addition, seamlessly integrated at the front of an extended, and crisply sculpted hood. The seating is 2-plus, and the interior trim is classic deluxe, but with a spirited and youthful flair that matches it’s bold exterior.
By any standard the LC 500 is a good looking car. In the contemporary sports coupe market, there is stiff competition among the frontrunners for the edge in styling and design, combined with engineering and performance. By producing a radically different marque, with a lower profile, and a leaner and more aggressive appeal, Lexus has certainly edged the LC 500 closer to the head of the grid.
Our test model came in Infrared, a classic, candy apple red premium at $595. Looking long and lean, with a low profile and compact lines, she was riding on a set of 21-inch forged alloy wheels ($2,650), and run-flat high-performance summer tires.
What leapt out, however, was that spindle grille, an unusual and compelling design feature, like a cage-muzzle on a greyhound. Deep grooves carved along the sides of the hood blend into scythe-like pillars, and the black, carbon roof matches well the red color scheme. The sides are clean and aerodynamic, with vents cut low behind the doors, leading seamlessly into a flared and muscular rear profile.
For design confidence and innovation, the 2018 Lexus LC 500 gets top marks.
The interior styling of the LC500 takes its cue from the Lexus LFA supercar, and this is not hard to spot. The dashboard, not quite so sporty as the LFA, nonetheless follows the same lines, and the Alcantara and leather offers up a subtle contrast between buff and suede. Our test model was dressed in black leather with Satin Metallic trim, although Rioja Red, or the sumptuous and classic Toasted Caramel probably do the whole package better justice than plain black.
The Sports Package, which also includes the carbon roof, comes in at $2,960, and offers 8-way power front sports seats with Alcantara inserts.
As we have already mentioned, seating is 2-plus, and while there is plenty of space for the driver and passenger, the rear seating is really for kids and dogs only. Don’t hope to cram the soccer team in, or the mother-in-law, and getting in an out is an exercise in calisthenics, so grandma might not like it either.
The equipment and electronic inclusions in the LC 500 are pretty standard in this class, although we were very impressed with the Mark Levinson Premium Audio System that rocked our ride with full surround sound amped up by 13-speakers, with the full audio package coming in at $1,220.
The information display set into the center console features a good sized, high-resolution LCD 10.3-inch center screen, with a split-screen, multi-information display that offers easy and simultaneous access to all the functions. These are, of course, audio and navigation, a full-screen map, climate control and a customizable greeting image.
The voice activated navigation system can be clunky sometimes, and we could not help thinking that additional touchscreen or dial controls would have been a great idea. Multilingual display info, however, and traffic and weather, 3D city views and local speed limits are all pretty innovative, and on the whole the system gets a thumbs up.
The 2018 Lexus LC 500 offers a rounded selection of safety and driver assist options, including a pre-collision system as standard, with automatic brake assist. A full-color head-up display, of course, also comes as standard, helping to keep your eyes where they should be, and the radar cruise control is a great addition. It works well and got a good amount of usage during our test drive. In addition, the Convenience Package ($1,000) includes Intuitive Park Assist and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
The LC 500 does not thrill at the pump. Its EPA rating is a modest 16 mpg city and 26 mpg highway, with 19 mpg combined. If you are looking for something in the same range, but easier on the wallet, the LC500h, with numbers at 26 city, 35 highway and 30 combined, might work better for you.
Time to measure the belly of the beast. Lift the hood and what you will see is a 32-valve 5.0-liter V-8 engine packed in without an inch to spare. Fire her up and she purrs softly, hit the throttle and she growls. Out on the open road she will deliver up an impressive 471 horsepower with almost 398 lb.-ft. of torque, which is all the acceleration and performance you need. Lexus performance specs tell that zero to sixty is a 4.4 second ride, 0.3 seconds faster than the 500h, and right up there with the competition. Acceleration is tidy, and she is quick and responsive on the road. The official performance literature has it that the Lexus LC 500 tops out at 168 mph, and it probably does, but we never pushed her anywhere near that far.
The transmission offers 10-speeds, and automatic selection is seamless and intuitive, anticipating the curves and the straight, and automatically balancing performance with economy. A semi-automatic facility is controlled by a pair of magnesium paddle shifters hidden behind the wheel. However, with ten speeds, it can be a pinball game ranging through the gears under variable conditions, trying to find that optimum blast of acceleration. In the end, it tends to be easier to shift back to auto and let the car do the thinking.
Semi-active shocks, springs, anti-sway bars and all of those good things keep her on the road, serene and comfortable. As quick and agile as she is, the 2018 Lexus LC 500 handles extremely well, clinging to the road and tracking the corners accurately at speed, requiring very little if any remedial or counteractive steering. We pushed her hard now and again, and never once noticed a soft spot.
Now that we know how lively she is off the mark, the next question is how well does she stop. The answer is very well indeed. Armed with 6-piston calipers and 2-piece 15.7-inch discs at the front, and 4-piston calipers and single-piece 14.1-inch discs at the back, she’ll haul you down to a comfortable standstill under the worst conditions. And peeping out from behind a nice looking set of 21-inch forged alloy wheels, the brake mechanism looks like the real deal too.
The MSRP for the 2018 Lexus LC 500 is a cool $92,000, but once you have taken into account the various options and packages, expect to pay $102,890.
What we liked: You cannot fault the 2018 LC 500 styling. It pushes out the envelope and brings in a stylish and eye-catching sports coupe that is certainly among the leaders in its class. It has a spine-tingling exhaust note, and a sophisticated and comfortable interior.
What we didn’t like: It seemed at times a little heavy for its power quotient, and the back seats can be just a little too tight.
In the real world, a Japanese luxury marque will always struggle in competition with a German, and the Mercedes S-Class, although a few K cheaper, holds the top spot on most rankings. The SL-Class too, which is also cheaper, but neither of them really compare in sheer nastiness, and for once the Lexus is by far the most head-turning sports coupe of the year. The BMW 6 Series trails in both price and snap-factor, and really so does the Jaguar XF.
On the whole, the LC 500 matches looks with performance, and although it might be a little too designed for some, it certainly deserves its place at the top tier.
Photo Credit: Copyright 2017 Angel Mosqueda / Car Fanatics Blog