– Miami, Florida
The Lexus LC 500 is seemingly in a class of its own. With its flamboyant styling cues and 471-horsepower V8, it bridges the gap somewhere between everyday supercar and capable touring car.
At its core, it’s still very much a Lexus product – that is, a comfortable cruiser with a focus on luxury over performance. But that doesn’t mean it lacks the ability to carve up corners with sporty underpinnings and a rear-wheel-drive setup. Whatever the case, Lexus’s new flagship is impressive.
Given its status as a comfortable cruiser, the Lexus LC doesn’t have the same natural athletic abilities as some of its rivals – not even with the optional active rear steering equipped. The Porsche 911 and the Nissan GT-R, for example, are both better equipped for twisty stuff. But don’t discount the LC as a serious performance contender. The steering wheel is well weighted, the suspension is firm but not overly harsh, and power delivery is immediate and intoxicating. Put your foot down in Sport S or Sport S+ modes and the LC takes off, putting all 471 horses from that naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 to use efficiently and without hesitation, letting out a seriously sinister exhaust note in the process.
The 10-speed automatic transmission leaves something to be desired. While mostly non-offensive in day-to-day driving, it’s unnecessarily harsh and clunky on downshifts in the more potent driving modes. The transmission does help deliver impressive fuel economy, sure, but you might as well get the hybrid LC 500h if you’re looking for an efficient sports car.
The LC is heavy, too. At 4,378 pounds, the coupe is beefy, even with the added carbon fiber roof. The 911 Carrera (3,670 pounds) and even the hybrid, all-wheel-drive Acura NSX (3,803 pounds) are both lighter; not to mention the Lexus doesn’t have the extra horsepower to make up for it.
From a standstill, Lexus says the LC will sprint to 60 miles per hour in 4.4 seconds. That’s a bit below average for its class considering the Jaguar F-Type R will do it in 3.9 seconds, and even the 420-horsepower 911 Carrera S will do it in 4.1 seconds. Here’s the good news: a more powerful LC is coming, so here’s hoping Lexus finds a way wring a more appropriate amount of power out of that 5.0-liter V8.
Even in the most crowded parking lot, your eyes will be immediately drawn to the LC’s dramatic concept car-like styling. The design is highlighted by uniquely sculpted headlights, an imposing spindle-shaped grille – which works surprisingly well in this application – and massive 21-inch wheels, a $2,650 option. By any measure, it’s the most over-the-top Lexus product currently on the market. That’s not to say it’s beautiful, though. Is it striking? Absolutely. Is it refreshingly unique? Definitely. But I’d argue that it’s still a step down design-wise from the brand’s former flagship, the LFA.
The cabin is as equally as dramatic-looking as the exterior. The sculpted lines of the interior are covered in Alcantara and leather; this particular vehicle was wearing a considerably awe-inspiring burgundy finish. The seats are big and comfortable, and the cabin, while tight, doesn’t have the same cockpit-style feel as some of its rivals, making its considerably more comfortable to drive daily. There’s even a set of rear seats, though you’ll need to be a contortionist to fit comfortably in them.
A massive screen sits front and center – but for as large and attractive as it is, it’s surprisingly not a touchscreen. Instead it comes paired to a fussy touchpad that makes it difficult to navigate through features, especially when driving. Lexus needs to adopt a dial-type controller similar to what you’ll find on rivals like Audi and BMW and ditch the current touchpad setup.
As far as unique features are concerned, there are plenty. A digital instrument cluster with a digital tachometer sits front and center, as first seen on the LFA supercar. With a movable speedometer – from middle to right – it unlocks an entire screen of features. There are things like a G-force meter, a rest warning, and vehicle diagnostics. The dual infotainment screen setup also gives you access to all of the same features. With fully retractable exterior door handles, folding side mirrors, and a retractable wear wing, the LC is loaded with tech, top to bottom.
The biggest gripe is the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Lexus has committed to CarPlay in all of its future products, but for 2018, the LC supercar remains without it. The system is fine to use otherwise.
As one of the most expensive new Lexus vehicles you can buy, it’s not surprising that it has all the same standard safety features found throughout the range. Available with the standard Lexus Safety System+, which comes with a pre-collision warning system, dynamic cruise control, intelligent high-beam headlights, and lane keep assist with steering alerts, it’s one of the most well-equipped vehicles in the segment before options.
Tack on the $1,000 Convenience Package, and the LC adds on even more in the way of safety; things like park assist, and blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert come on the optional package.
If fuel economy is your first concern, the Lexus LC 500 probably isn’t the car for you. That said, the sporty coupe returns a commendable 16 miles per gallon city, 26 miles per gallon highway, and 19 miles per gallon combined. Engine stop-start technology is in part to thank for the efficiency. Even with a smaller turbocharged V6, the Nissan GT-R is less efficient than the Lexus (16 city/22 highway/18 combined), as is the V8-powered Jaguar F-Type R (15 city/23 highway/18 combined).
Lexus asks $92,000 for a standard LC 500 right out of the box, which makes it one of the more affordable V8-powered sports cars in its class. This particular tester was a bit pricier. After options it came out to $104,380 – but it’s easy to argue that most of the add-ons were worth the extra asking price.
The mentioned Convenience Package (park assist and blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert) is an extra $1,000, a premium audio system is an extra $1,220, and 21-inch forged wheels add $2,650. Things like a head-up display ($900), a limited slip differential ($390), and a heated steering wheel with a windshield de-icer ($250) bring the price up only marginally.
The most expensive feature on the LC is the Performance Package, a $5,960 option. The pricey option adds Alcantara, eight-way adjustable sport bucket seats, a carbon fiber roof, active rear steering, an Alcantara headliner, and a carbon fiber door sill. Is it all necessary? Probably not. But for $5,960, it’s still a far cheaper option than some of the trim packages you’ll find on the LC’s closest competitors.
Photos: Jeff Perez / Motor1.com
Gallery: 2018 Lexus LC 500: Review
2018 Lexus LC 500