Lexus LC Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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Car Review

Lexus LC

£ 75,960 - £ 90,130
810
Published: 15 Sep 2021
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Driving

What is it like to drive?

We know the LC500’s V8 well from numerous F-badged performance Lexuses, but here it appears without such gnarly pretensions. Drive an LC without the full suite of driver aids and diffs and it almost feels an incongruous fit; an engine that doesn’t deliver peak power until 7,100rpm living inside a carefree GT car.

Kick back in Comfort and Eco driving modes and the powertrain shuffles around in the background like a Michelin-star maître-d’, but crank it up to Sport+ and it slams home full-bore upshifts instantly and with a slap on the back. We found ourselves shifting down when it wasn’t required, just to hear a crack from the exhausts and flourish of revs. There’s a woofly spike of revs on start-up and that’ll have you reversing close to walls just for a bit of theatre before each drive. Well, so long as your neighbours won’t protest.

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What about when you really get going?

Wind up the V8, feel it kick a bit harder past 4,000rpm, then hold your nerve as it charges with building intensity all the way to the 7,300rpm limiter. It doesn’t bludgeon you with its performance, this engine, it has to be tweezered out with patience and well-timed shifts. Keep it in Sport+ mode, though – firmer suspension, sharper throttle response, sportier gearing for the steering – and there’s a thug waiting to get out.

Turn in at speed and there’s body roll – this is a 1,935kg coupe after all – but with the rear-wheel steering equipped you can tuck neatly into corners like a quarter of that weight’s been magically, momentarily shed. If physics do decide to step in and nudge the front end wide, you can always deploy the power to bring the diff into play and the back pivoting round – likely only if you’ve turned the fairly stringent stability control off. A proper muscle car mentality is required – the power isn’t just there to sling you down the straight, it’s there to help steer.

The steering wheel itself has that modern trait of lacking in feel, but makes up for it with a super-quick rack. The whole thing can feel pretty feisty if you put the effort in – take a more laidback approach and the car follows suit, the engine quietening and that trademark Lexus refinement coming to the fore instead. This is when the gearbox is happiest – you’ll need to pull the paddles for manual shifts to get the best of it in quick driving. And with ten gears, that could mean a lot of downchanges should a tight corner unexpectedly present itself.

I suppose I should ask about the hybrid…

Lexus has combined a CVT, like it fits to its hybrid SUVs, with a four-speed automatic gearbox, giving you ten speeds to choose from in manual mode – just like the V8. Lexus claims it dispenses with the infuriating rubber band feeling, where revs don’t match speed or throttle position, making the whole thing sound like a badly dubbed movie. 

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Sadly, it doesn’t. Well not entirely. Seize the paddles and the shifts themselves are laborious, and while the revs do rise and fall more closely with your right foot, it’s still a far from linear relationship, with flairs and dips when the sound should be constant. Really gun it and even in manual mode the V6 whines away at the top of its rev range, constantly searching for a minutely more efficient ratio.

Drive flat out and the whole things feels indirect and rather unsatisfying – it’s quick, but there’s little satisfaction in going fast. However, it’s not all bad news. With the electric motor chiming in, acceleration from a standstill – and sub-40mph – is punchy. Useful if you spend your time stop-start driving around town. Leave the gearbox in auto and it does at better job at staying in the torque band than our ham fists could manage, perfect for a brisk cruise. And on the motorway it proves extremely good at being a Lexus – quiet as doctor’s waiting room and with a sumptuous floaty ride quality that makes long journeys a joy.

Highlights from the range

the fastest

Lexus LC LC 500 Sport+ Pack 2dr Auto
  • 0-624.4s
  • CO2
  • BHP467
  • MPG
  • Price£ 80,000

the cheapest

Lexus LC 500 5.0 [464] 2dr Auto
  • 0-624.7s
  • CO2265.0g/km
  • BHP464
  • MPG24.4
  • Price£ 75,960

the greenest

Lexus LC 500h 3.5 Sport 2dr Auto [Manhattan Orange]
  • 0-625s
  • CO2150.0g/km
  • BHP359
  • MPG42.8
  • Price£ 87,410
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