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Lexus reveals the 467bhp LC 500, and it is good
Flagship performance coupe with a big V8 lands in Detroit
Not since the LF-A have we been this excited about a Lexus. It’s called the LC 500, and it’s essentially the roadgoing format of the LF-LC Concept of 2012. And it is good.
First, the basics; it’s a four-seat coupe - though as with all of these things we can’t help but think you probably won’t want to be a rear-seat passenger for long unless you’re under 5 – front-engined and rear wheel drive. The 5.0-litre V8 up front (467bhp, 389lb ft) is shared with the RC F and GS F, and there’s a ten speed auto putting power to the ground. Yep, that’s a ten-speed, with what Lexus reckons are equivalent shift times to a double-clutch ‘box. We don’t doubt it, but worry about mis-counting gears and getting …erm… ninth, when we really wanted seventh.
But we may have some help with that: the gearbox monitors throttle inputs, braking and steering to ‘operate rhythmically’ in sporty driving conditions. Which sounds intriguing. Zero to 60mph is said to be ‘under 4.5 seconds’ though no word on top speed.
More than that though, it’s a properly interesting and attractive piece of design, with serious presence. One of the things that might make it stand out is the fact that it’s actually quite big – look at the specs and it’s more BMW 6-series size than Porsche 911, but also represents use of technology and architecture that will underpin all future product.
Lexus call it the GA-L architecture, and it’s basically a focus on placing the heavy bits of the car - including the engine and occupants - lower and more centrally in the chassis to help handling. Internally, engineers called it the ‘inertia spec’. Lexus also talk about other ‘mass management’ factors specific to the LC 500, including an optional carbon roof (standard is a glass panel), aluminum door skins mounted to a carbon fibre inner door structure and a composite boot floor. Apparently the LC 500’s chassis is actually more rigid than the LF-A. No mean feat.
Chief Engineer Koji Sato said: “Design and engineering sides worked together on issues and obstacles that were overcome one by one. I feel we achieved something greater than simply preserving the spirit of the concept’s design.”
The LC 500 is also said to provide ‘a dynamic driving experience and character unlike any Lexus vehicle’ and yet retain ‘a superior Lexus ride quality’. Though with near-rigid chassis stiffness and run-flat tyres as standard (a spare wheel being way too weighty), that remains to be seen. The aluminium suspension will have its work cut out whatever happens, and we’re hoping that the LC 500 turns in a more satisfying performance than the pair of cars it shares its motor with.
As ever for a Lexus flagship there will also be a full suite of safety and technology gubbins to play with, from dynamic radar cruise, pre-collision facilities, lane-keep assist and the like, to a full-on Mark Levinson eardrum-bursting stereo system.
But that isn’t really the point here. Lexus aimed to make a flagship coupe for the whole brand. And we think it may just have done it.