James Bond’s affinity for a certain British luxury automaker is quite well known. Meanwhile, the 2018 remake of “Superfly” featured the titular character Priest. Priest’s ride happened to be the immediate predecessor to the 2019 Lexus LC 500, the coupe whose debonair design and flair syncs with that new and tries really hard to resonate with buyers who admire an international spy as much as they do an urban impresario. Whether consumers can discern product placement from a mile away isn’t the point, though — what matters is how said product actually looks, feels, and drives.
Priced at just a bit under the $100,000 mark, a Lexus coupe packing 471-hp V8 can be mentioned in the same sentence as Aston Martin and Porsche 911 without one being laughed out of the room. That beast’s hybrid cousin, the 2019 LC 500h, which we got to take to the street, is an updated take on the first model. With modifications to performance tuning, plus the addition of a wifi antenna, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa compatibility, I’m here to tell you it made a decent impression.
It was instant appreciation when I laid my eyes on our tester LC in Atomic Silver, sitting on 21-inch forged wheels, a $1,400 option. It didn’t take long to figure out that the Lexus engineers got high off the praise lavished onto the LF-FC concept and decided to channel that energy into a saucy production coupe. It’s distinguished by the ‘spindle grille’ and a Lexus-y fluidity, not to mention the details like the teardrop-shaped headlights. The minds over at Lexus intentionally put this car together to ensure that reviewers like us drop superlatives and cliches like “exotic” and “curb appeal” left and right.
Our tester’s interior finish, consisting of Rioja Red Leather with Satin Metallic trim, was equally made for effusive praise. The level of detail and craftsmanship here is granular, and you’d have to be blind not to appreciate the LC’s door stitching patterns and amazingly crafted seats. For all of this sheer amazingness, the infotainment side is kind of clunky, with style having precedence over substance, to the detriment of functionality. It is what it is —none of us are perfect.
For all of that horsepower under its hood, it’s an electrified wonder. The 2019 Lexus LC 500h has a hybrid powertrain, which translates to very eco-appeasing MPG numbers: 27/35/30. There’s no asterisk to these except maybe that the EPA suggests these numbers mean a 40 percent decrease to the average annual fuel cost. In the real world, with our tester, I couldn’t quite match these numbers. Nevertheless, there’s no question the LC500h is more efficient than the LC500 and rivals within its segment.
The 2019 Lexus LC 500h power comes from a 354-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 running the Atkinson cycle. The hybrid powertrain, though, is the Coca-Cola recipe of this car. The V-6 is supplanted by a pair of 44-kW lithium-ion battery powered electric motors, which are distributed by the 4-speed auto tranny and continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that, together, are basically a 10-speed automatic. The coupe can get you 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds thanks to all these gadgets.
The gas engine provides the extra thrust, while the electric motors set the groove at the low- and middle-range power. There’s no question the 500h doesn’t get the oomph achieved in the V-8. However, if you are brave enough to push it to 155 mph, does it really matter? While behind the wheel, I can honestly say the 500h performed admirably, and moved very precisely.
The brakes offered surefire responsiveness. The new chassis and suspension demonstrated plenty in a convincing fashion. Steering and grip were solid, and dialing through Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and custom mode, I found out that my optimal zone is the Sport mode.
The MSRP for the 2019 Lexus LC 500h coupe is $96,710. With all the trimmings and options factored, the total comes out to $108,645.
What we liked: The concept-car-induced design was effectively transplanted into the design of the LC 500 line-up; the 500h delivers impressive mileage thanks to its hybrid powertrain that is savvy and detail-focused as Lexus gets; the coupe is sporty and comfortable; top-shelf interior materials are world-class, making for effortless competitiveness with any European coupe.
What we didn’t like: The coupe is on the heavier side, and it’s also unmistakably on the expensive side; there is a bit of a concern over how small and tight the backseat is; this is also the case with the lack of trunk space.
Edited by Slav Kandyba
Photo Credit: Copyright 2019 Victor Mosqueda / Car Fanatics Blog