Lexus LC500: Driven

Three things are readily apparent about the Lexus LC500; things not necessarily synonymous with the luxury brand as we currently know it. The first is that it looks properly handsome. Not merely handsome for a Japanese car or for the weird mid-Atlantic idiom that Lexus styling usually occupies, but handsome in the way a cutting-edge, 2+2 rear-drive coupe really ought to be. The design influence of the erstwhile LF-LC concept is obvious; as too is the long shadow of the LFA - easily the manufacturer's most famous (and best) car in its near 30-year history.

Second, the 5.0-litre V8 which Lexus has chosen to install in this, the range-topper, is still something of a peach. This reinforces itself during extended use, but it's manifest straight out of the box, too. That's mostly because it remains as naturally-aspirated as a Golden Retriever, and - in its more engaging modes - is almost as much fun to roll around with. It also revs to 7300rpm and makes a sound consistent with such a generous limiter; part tight-throated howl, part exhaust-tuned baritone.

Thirdly, and unfortunately, it does not ride properly. This will be as prominent in your first half mile with the car as it will be in your last, so pronounced is the LC's inability to adequately settle on UK roads. The culprit is not hard to lay the finger on: the blame for the most part resting on those seriously pretty 21-inch rims and the run-flat tyres wrapped around them. Wedded to a chassis already defaulting to the thicker end of firm results in an inevitable percussive shiver; one that steadfastly refuses to disappear in anything short of ideal conditions.

The LC's brittleness - unexpected in a Lexus wearing all-round multi-link suspension and the word 'luxury' in its model nomenclature - is the car's main shortcoming, but there are others. This is a large coupe (it's wider than a Ford Mustang, and very nearly as long) but adults will still find the rear seats a frustrating squeeze and the boot suffers from an obvious lack of depth. The interior is as well-made as a Victorian power station - sadly though it invokes about the same level of sportiness as one, too. And while the huge, metallic volume dial is utterly splendid (ditto the optional Mark Levinson stereo), Lexus's touchpad-based infotainment system is stuck at the baffling end of complicated.

The broader driving experience is hardly niggle free either. To compensate for the absence of blowers, the V8's locomotion is squeezed into a ten-speed torque-converter; the tightly spaced ratios intended to keep the atmospheric engine as productive as possible despite its late-show torque delivery. This works only as well as you consent to working with it: drive smoothly and briskly, and the transmission will shift seamlessly around you - drive erratically, or request full power when it's idling in its latter gears, and there will be a lot of downshifting and fuss before anything truly gratifying happens.

Happily though, when the LC does do something agreeable, it typically hits the spot. Much of this is bound up in the soundtrack of course, but there is much to like in the handling department as well. Given its immodest size and weight - and the dysfunctional ride - the dainty sense of balance plumbed into the chassis is quite something. The LC features four-wheel steering and an active variable ratio rack - neither a particularly easy commodity to integrate - but they each feed adroitly into a coupe that manages to seem reassuringly tactile and adhesive, and yet nicely mobile with it.

The Sport + model's standard-fit Torsen limited-slip diff certainly helps in this regard, aided by a stability control system that accepts some lateral movement as part of the fun of a rear-drive, 477hp coupe. Even with it pulling out all the stops, the LC is mildly throttle adjustable at its limit; switch it out, and there's a real progressiveness to a power-induced loss of traction, combined with the sort of benign response that makes it easy - and very rewarding - to keep on top of it all.

All of which serves to make the Lexus a puzzling prospect in retrospect. The twitchy ride and negated practicality deprive it of the 2+2 GT status its manufacturer undoubtedly craves - and the car often feels too big and cumbersome to credibly talk you out of spending almost exactly the same amount of money on a Porsche 911 Carrera S. Equally though, we wouldn't blame you for failing to see past the first two items on the list: the LC looks brilliant and sounds great. Couple those features with fabled build quality and a prodigious kit list, and you might just choose to ignore the pitfalls.

Inspired? Buy a Lexus here

: 4,969cc, V8
Transmission: 10-speed sports direct shift automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 478@7,100rpm
Torque (lb ft): 398@4,800rpm
0-62mph: 4.4sec
Top speed: 168mph
Weight: 1,970kg
MPG: 24.4 (NEDC combined)
CO2: 267g/km
Price: £85,895 (As tested £88,585 comprised of F Sport white paint for £695, Colour head-up display for £995 and Mark Levinson 13-speaker reference product audio for £1,000)







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Comments (73) Join the discussion on the forum

  • corcoran 26 Oct 2017

    God they MUST get away from that anti-Audi grille shape; gopping thing.

    Saw one the other day. Very handsome thing indeed.

  • Murphy16 26 Oct 2017

    First car in a while I've thought is properly good looking. Would be an intetesting alternative to the usual German rivals.

  • Evilex 26 Oct 2017

    Not really specifically aimed at the UK market, more the US market, where it'll fit in just fine.
    Oddly, I reckon Ford will sell more Mustangs here than Lexus will sell LC500s in the states, price might have a bearing on that, though.

  • MikeGoodwin 26 Oct 2017

    Saw one in Waterloo one night, edited the photo and the paintwork does not look like this IRL but it was a nice looking car.

    Lexus by Michael Goodwin, on Flickr

    Shame about the runflat thing. Youd think manufacturers would have learned by now.

  • culpz 26 Oct 2017

    It's defiantly a good looking car. Well, to my eyes, anyway,

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