Lexus LC coupe

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The gorgeous and luxurious Lexus LC coupe is available in two delicious flavours – V6 hybrid LC500h and V8 LC500.

Lexus LC coupe

The LC is not the belated replacement for the LFA, 4.8-litre V10 carbon fibre supercar, even though it is assembled in the same area of the Motomachi Plant used to build the LFA. It is a new car.

Pricing from $190,000 plus on road cost, the LC provides outstanding value before even turning a wheel because its spectacular exterior looks a million dollars.

When I first saw the LC I thought of a samurai sword – sharp, shiny and refined. With low-slung bonnet and sweeping roofline, the coupe looks capable of slicing through the air like a sword.

Eye-catching exterior details include grille, “arrowhead” LED headlights and L-shaped tail-lamp clusters. Door handles aerodynamically recessed within the doors (which have aluminium skin mounted on carbon fibre structure) pop out in a V-shape to grab when the car is unlocked.

Optional Sport+ Package adds active rear spoiler which automatically deploys when speed exceeds 80kph and specifies carbon fibre reinforced plastic for the roof.

Not that the LC500h needs more help with street credibility. In Collins Street Melbourne my press car got plenty of attention from pedestrians and motorists, like some exotic prototype had escaped from a European Motor Show, and when parked at Port Melbourne beach some passer-by’s took pictures.

It has expansive wheel arches filled with 20'' 10 spoke wheels, curves inwards in its centre, and has impressive big rear end and wide shoulders around the inner passenger cabin. It looks interesting and sophisticated from every angle, with subtle merging of glass and metal along the fastback look rear roof and window lines. This very interesting treatment is continued in the interior with the glass look across the whole dashboard.

The Lexus Hybrid is exotic and also unbelievably economical. The technical presentation for the LC500h reflected the coupe’s complexity and I managed to catch the most important keyword – “Multi Stage Hybrid System”.

The rear wheel drive state-of-the-art system cleverly combines a 3.5-litre V6 Atkinson-cycle petrol engine (especially economical and powerful when combined with electric traction motors to give low end acceleration), powerful dual electric motors and lithium-ion battery pack with 4-speed automatic in series with CVT hybrid transmission.

The car is very well balanced with extremely low centre of gravity, engine mounted behind front axle, low weight, then all round independent double joint multilink suspension all contribute to it handling beautifully. For better handling, rear wheel steering is also available.

The Lexus LC500h is quick, powering from standstill to 100km/h in 5 seconds flat, although it’s surprising ability to overspin the rear wheels in anger might waste a split-second when accelerating aggressively. Also this hybrid is agile. It dives into corners confidently and changes speed/direction without any delay. It steers with the exact amount of assistance needed. The steering wheel is terrific, too – handily sized, positioned just right and a pleasure to hold.

On the road and highways, the test car behaves like a grand tourer – comfortable in any road/traffic situation.

The boot cannot accommodate much baggage, even without a space-eating tyre (the car rides on run-flat tyres), with only 172 litres in the LC500h, because the hybrid battery is parked between the backseats and boot compartment. The hybrid battery is relatively compact and lightweight, being an efficiently packaged lithium-ion unit with satellite construction (a first for Lexus).

The LC500 cabin is beautifully designed, stylish decorated and generously equipped. The interior is also very well-made, right down to the finishing of the carefully hand-sewn leather gearshift knob. The cabin’s lovely leather upholstery is accompanied by classy Alcantara, which appears to drape from the door panels.

All the controls are user-friendly and almost all switches, menus/sub-menus, graphics and alphanumeric would be familiar to current Lexus owners.

“Dash-ears” dashboard controls include two chunky knobs, sticking out from each side of the instrument panel cowling – one to select drive mode and the other for traction/snow mode.

The LC500h front seats are fantastic – attractive, plush and supportive. The back seats might look good but are pretty cramped.

Even if the LC500 turned out to be no better to drive than the cheaper RC, it would still be a winner because it looks like a million $$$ but costs a lot less than that.
  • Engines: 5.0-litre V8 petrol (LC500) or 3.5-litre V6 petrol-electric hybrid (LC500h)
  • Power: 351kW (LC500)/220kW (LC500h)
  • Torque: 540Nm (LC500)/348Nm (LC500h)
  • Transmissions: 10-speed auto (LC500)/CVT& 4 speed auto in series (LC500h)
  • Fuel use: 11.6L/100km (LC500)/6.7L/100km (LC500h)
From $190,000 (plus on-road costs)