The V8 model with a full suite of chassis aids is a real brute in a suit
The hybrid powertrain ain't great. Some interior tech is off class best
What is it?
Quite simply this is the boldest, most outrageous thing to come from the maker of posh Toyotas since they turned our knees to jelly with the LFA supercar in 2010. There are no screaming V10s here and the experience is tailored more to rapid grand touring than hot laps, but the LC is still a force to be reckoned with.
Spawned from the 2012 LF-LC concept and based on a light, stiff ‘GAL’ rear-drive platform that has since underpinned the LS limo, you can have your LC in two distinct flavours - identical twins, if you like, but with polar opposite approaches to the same task: hurling you down a road and making you look sexy while you’re at it.
One - the LC500h - is a spectacularly complicated hybrid harnessing V6 petrol and electrical power for devilish performance and virtuous fuel economy, the other – the LC500 - is a tasty bit of old school muscle with a naturally aspirated V8 intent on bullying the rear tyres.
I like the sound of that second one…
So do the vast majority of buyers. The LC coupe has been on sale since 2017 and three quarters of the 20,000 or so people who’ve bought one globally have gone with the V8. When Lexus recently launched the LC Convertible, it neglected to offer hybrid power. Perhaps no surprise when they both cost the exact same £81,750 before options – why wouldn’t you have the gnarlier sounding, more fun to drive version?
We’ll whisk the hybrid out of the way quickly, then. It combines a 295bhp 3.5-litre V6 and 177bhp electric motor (fed by Lexus’ first lithium-ion battery, found behind the rear seats) for a 354bhp combined peak. That’s sent to the rear wheels through a CVT gearbox and propels you from 0-60mph in 4.7 seconds and on to 155mph, accompanied by 34.8mpg fuel economy and 184g/km of CO2 emissions. It’s not a plug-in hybrid, then, but you’re basically getting scaled-down supercar looks with hot hatch efficiency. At least on paper.
And the V8?
It’s Lexus’s tried, tested, and really rather loved 5.0-litre with not a turbo in sight. A rare breed nowadays, and there’s delicious irony in Lexus – one of the pioneers of mainstream hybrid cars – being one of the final havens for the most old-school, polluting engine possible. Peak output is 457bhp with power sent to the rear wheels via a 10-speed automatic (yep, 10) for the same 4.7secs sprint as the hybrid but a higher 168mph top speed. Naturally fuel consumption and CO2 emissions swell too, at 24.3mpg and 262g/km respectively.
Both versions weigh a whisker under two tonnes – LCs made from 2020 onwards getting a few delightfully dorky weight saving measures within their mechanical components – and depending on spec level you can have various levels of tech to help mitigate the car’s chub. There are a variety of rear differentials and torque vectoring systems, but we’ll save you the time and say just this: if you want a Lexus LC for more than just looking at, you need a V8 in Sport+ spec. The proper engine, with a four-wheel-steering system to help bring the chassis’ sharpness up to the same level as the powerplant’s.
What's the verdict?
The Lexus LC is as striking as anything under £100,000 gets. That sprawling spindle front grille is an acquired taste, especially with a number plate plastered across the middle of it, but thanks to an unfeasibly low bonnet, pinched waist and brutally wide rear track, the overall stance is epic. Even better, dare we say, than the more exotic LFA it picks up the mad-Lexus mantle from.
Everything about the LC is bold - the design, the technology, the price point – and it backs it all up with a genuinely-engaging driving experience. On one condition... that you ignore the hybrid and buy the V8, because the difference in powertrain response, overall performance and general driving satisfaction is night and day.
Make no mistake, the LC500h is a clever piece of technology, but the LC500 is resounding proof that until the combustion engine is carried off on a stretcher for good, the old way can still be the way forward. The LFA proved there was a mad streak buried deep in the company; the LC proves it wasn’t a flash in the pan.