Lexus Lc LUXURY REDEFINED (75/100)
The Lexus LC luxury coupe opens a new chapter for this premium Japanese brand. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Review
Lexus has long realised that it needs to do something different if it's to effectively take on the premium German brands. Well, that's certainly what's it's done with this car, the LC Coupe. It's come equipped to take on the luxury coupe segment's very top contenders, with drive dynamics that work on the track as well as on the highway. Plus there's styling that'll cause a stir in the High Street, a gorgeous cabin and hi-tech hybrid power if you want it.
A large, luxury coupe ought to make you feel very special indeed. This one, the Lexus LC Coupe, very definitely will. This is a large, super-luxury 2+2 that targets BMW's latest 8 Series as well as cars like Porsche's 911 and the Mercedes SL. It's a car that the brand hopes will change the way buyers perceive this marque. The claim is that handling will excite in the way that no Lexus (bar perhaps the LFA) ever has before. And the styling has a raw, direct feel that's a world away from previous coupes we've seen from the brand. There's a choice of V8 or V6 hybrid power and just about all the interior toys you could want. It's a desirable package.
There are two engines on offer. The LC 500h variant gets a 3.5-litre V6 hybrid unit. Alternatively, there's a LC 500 derivative under the bonnet of which beats a 5.0-litre V8, a modified version of the powerplant Lexus uses in its RC F and GS F models. In this form, it produces 467bhp at 7,100rpm, so the LC doesn't want for pace. 62mph is reached in just 4.4s and if you've a stretch of unrestricted autobahn handy, the top speed is 168mph. As usual with a Lexus, there's a range of selectable driving settings - six in total - and of these, the one you're going to want to try most is 'Sport S'. This should be ideal for your favourite back road, delivered crisp, sharp responses from the adaptive suspension and the sophisticated 10-speed direct-shift auto paddleshift gearbox.
We'll need a lengthy drive to fully brief you on the drive dynamics but early reports suggest that they achieve a good balance of what segment buyers will be looking for. That means something sharper than you'd get in, say, a Mercedes' SL and BMW's 6 Series but a little more comfort-orientated than you'd find in, say, a Porsche 911 or a Jaguar's F-TYPE.
Design and Build
This large, luxury 2+2 coupe offers a much edgier look from Lexus than we've seen in any of the company's previous models. The aesthetics have been based on the marque's 'LF-LC' concept car, first shown at motor shows back in 2012 and under the sharply-creased bodywork lies a completely new GA-L ('Global Architecture - Luxury') platform we'll soon see in other luxury Lexus models.
Inside, as you'd expect, the materials and finishing are faultless, as is the gadget count. The driver's cockpit has been ergonomically designed to instil confidence and invite spirited driving, with an intuitive layout of the controls and a well-judged seating position. The driver's hip point has been located as close as possible to the coupe's centre of gravity, maximising direct feedback of the vehicle's dynamic performance.
As with any 2+2 sports coupe, space is tight for four, even if two of them are children, but Lexus has worked hard to make rearward access easy.
Market and Model
Regardless of whether you choose the LC 500 V8 or the LC 500h V6 hybrid, the pricing is the same - around £77,000.
With the LC Sport + grade, buyers get the Lexus Dynamic Handling system. This set-up aims to provide the LC with a higher level of handling in all driving scenarios, achieved through the co-ordination of the car's Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS), Dynamic Rear Steering (DRS) and Electric Power Steering (EPS) functions. The result is supposed to be ultimate steering response in everyday driving, true to the driver's inputs, with a high feeling of rear tyre grip and instantaneous response in high-speed cornering, giving a greater feeling of security.
By equipping the LC with a limited-slip differential, Lexus allows the driver to enjoy secure acceleration while cornering; co-operation between the new Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), DRS and the LSD is designed to counteract over- or understeer to help the car keeps to its intended line while communicating a natural feel to the driver.
Cost of Ownership
You're going to need deep pockets to run an LC 500 V8 model; expect a combined fuel consumption figure of around 26mpg and a CO2 return of over 250g/km. Obviously a better bat in this regard will be the LC 500h hybrid, the variant that the majority of UK buyers will choose.
Low maintenance requirements have been built into this model's Hybrid Synergy Drive system. As part of this, there's no starter motor or alternator to go wrong, no drive belts to break, a maintenance-free timing chain, no particulate filter to get clogged up with diesel fumes and of course, thanks to the CVT auto gearbox, no clutch either. The Hybrid set-up has a good record for minimising tyre wear and its battery will last the life of the car. Plus the regenerative braking set-up helps extend the life of the brake pads.
What else? Are you worried about the complexity of the hybrid system? Don't be. There are over 8 million Toyota-engineered hybrids reliably pounding global roads and the facts are that Hybrid technology generates fewer warranty claims than conventional petrol or diesel engines do. Anyway, the hybrid system gets its own five year warranty and you can choose to further extend this every year in the first decade of ownership, with no limits on total mileage.
The LC is a showcase for everything the Lexus brand is now capable of. On that basis, it looks like there's a great deal for us to look forward to. The fact that we can even mention a large luxury Lexus coupe in the same breath as a Porsche 911 is progress of a sort; this car has been developed by enthusiasts. It's way more than just another lottery-winners luxury GT in the BMW 6 Series / Mercedes SL mould.
If you're lucky enough to be hopping in this segment, we urge you to give the LC a try. It's probably not the car you were thinking of. But it may very well weave its spell on you very effectively.