2018 Lexus LC500 Review
Alex Rae’s 2018 Lexus LC500 Review with pricing, specs, performance, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: The LC500 is Lexus’ best car in years but its price puts it against strong rivals.
2018 Lexus LC500 and LC500h
Pricing From $190,000+ORC Warranty four years, 100,000 kilometres Service Intervals 15,000kms/12 months Safety N/A Engine 5.0-litre V8 petrol, 3.5-litre V6 petrol hybrid Power/Torque 351kW/540Nm, 264kW/348Nm Transmission ten-speed automatic, four-speed automatic CVT hybrid Drive rear-wheel drive Dimensions 4770mm (L); 1920mm (W); 1345mm (H) Boot Space 172-197 litres Spare space saver Fuel Tank 82 litres Thirst From 7.6L/100km (combined)
THE LEXUS LINEUP has been getting a little stale lately and so it is with some excitement that the LC500 lands here. With untraditional (read: not conservative) Lexus styling this two-plus-two sports coupe promises – from looks alone – to deliver a true performance car that can rival the likes of the Jaguar F-Type and BMW 650i. That’s a pretty tall order though from the brand that missed the mark with its last attempt the RC F. So what has it done differently this time around?
What is the Lexus LC500?
LC stands for Luxury Coupe and that’s exactly what the LC500 delivers. Available in two models – V8 powered LC500 or V6 petrol-hybrid LC500h – the flagship rear-wheel drive Lexus is built on the latest GA-L chassis platform.
The LC500 is powered by a Yamaha-designed 5.0-litre petrol V8 which produces 351kW and 540Nm. It’s paired with an Aisin 10-speed automatic, LSD and drinks a claimed 11.6L/100km. The LC500h is powered by a 220kW/348Nm 3.5-litre petrol V6 and is mated to a lithium-ion powered electric motor which produces 132kW/300Nm. Total power output is 264kW and goes through a hybrid transmission that combines afour-speed automatic and CVT transmission.
The hybrid doesn’t provide the same level of performance as the V8 and doesn’t come with an LSD as standard, although it is included in the optional $15,000 Dynamic Enhancement Pack. Chump change compared to the $190,000 price tag attached to both models.
The Dynamic Enhancement Pack adds four-wheel steering, active rear-spoiler (at 80km/h and over), carbon-fibre roof and roof plate, variable steering ratio, 10-way electric seats and and Alcantara interior bits. Other inclusions for both models include 21-inch alloys with bespoke Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber, large brakes and safety such as AEB, lane keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear-cross traffic alert and lane-change warning.
It’s a heavy beast though, and the starting weight for the range is 1950kg. Add some options or get the hybrid and it tips over the 2000kg mark.
What’s the Lexus LC500 like on the inside?
For the driver, the seating position is excellent. Low-slung and with tremendous leg room it’s a very comfortable seat that’s complimented by an electrically-adjustable tilt-and-reach steering column. The seats are some of the best from Lexus and provide a high-level of comfort and have a premium fit-and-finish. Being handmade, we’d expect as much.
The interior is available in a few different colours, with black being the safest. Leather, suede and brushed metal feature throughout, and for the Enhancement pack there’s some carbon-fibre and Alcantara inserts too.
In the centre is a 10.3-inch infotainment screen and unfortunately it delivers the same mediocre experience of current Lexus systems. It’s fiddly to navigate and the trackpad, although better than the joystick, can easily be pushed and clicked onto the wrong menu item. Connectivity is limited (thanks to Toyota’s and Lexus’ reluctance to embrace alternative connectivity options – no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto – so Bluetooth or cable connection is required for phone calls and audio playback from a mobile device.
But what the infotainment system lacks in connectivity and convenience the 13-speaker Mark Levinson sound system somewhat makes up for. It is up there with some of the best in-car audio and the alleged more than 5000-listening-hours and engineering has paid off. With more than 918 watts and one of the largest subwoofers in a car it has more than enough oomph to go loud. But, more than that it has clarity and dimensions not found in many car sound systems.
What’s the Lexus LC500’s passenger space like?
The front occupants are provided with ample legroom and headspace and there’s a good amount of arm room between the driver and passenger. Over the course of a few hours drive at the local launch, we never tired and the seats provide very comfortable ergonomics. I’d be happy to recommend them for short and longer hauls.
The rear is a different story though as there’s next to no room in this two-plus-two coupe. We attempted sitting in the back with two front occupants and failed. Perhaps a child might be comfortable on a short cruise, but the front seats need to be moved too far forward to allow any sort of practical legroom in the back. There’s also not much headroom back there either thanks to the sloping roofline.
What’s the Lexus LC500’s boot space like?
The boot is tiny. A weekend bag or two will fit, but we can’t see how anything like a golf bag could. The LC500 offers the most space, at 197 litres, and the hybrid shrinks down to a small 172 litres. But those rear seats could provide some extra cargo space as you’re not going to have many volunteers wanting to go in there. There’s a space saver spare sitting beneath the boot floor.
What’s the Lexus LC500 like to drive?
Through all of the guff we were given during the product presentation at the local launch of a lightweight chassis that’s stiffer, better, more agile and lighter than ever, it’s hard to believe the LC500 weighs in at 1950kg. Or perhaps it is, as it is packed with so much luxury. And step into the hybrid and the scales tip over 2000kg.
But we were assured the trick fine-link rear-end, adaptive dampers and double-ball joint front-end would evaporate any concerns. And they did.
On the racetrack we were able to put both powertrains through their paces and, although the hybrid was not powerful enough to keep up with the V8, the new GA-L platform and suspension geometry felt sharp and agile when pushing hard on both models.
The LC500 V8 is the stand out when driving enthusiastically and for the same money the V8 delivers a more captivating experience compared to the hybrid. It’s very thirsty though, with a claimed fuel consumption of 11.4L/100km. We managed almost 15L/100km in a combination of highway and mountain roads, but does it matter when you’re spending this much? As Lexus told us, if you care about consumption, there’s the hybrid.
The LC500h was as sure footed as the LC500, but it just couldn’t keep up due to its heavier weight and lack of torque. On both models there’s wasn’t enough let-off from the traction control in the most aggressive Sport Plus mode on the racetrack, but on the road it was more than enough to enjoy the delightful snarl the V8 delivers or have some quiet fun in the hybrid.
Stopping the huge heft are Lexus-engineered 338mm front and 308mm rear brakes. They proved remarkable at the end of our time on the track (strong and fade free and there wasn’t much cooling down of vehicles) and Lexus tells us the same brake pads were subjected to three days of track time. During our drive they proved sharp and responsive without ever tiring. The brakes in the hybrid are regenerative, and so they don’t modulate as nicely – they’re a little grabby as a result.
What are the Lexus LC500’s safety features like?
The LC500 has not been rated by ANCAP. Standard safety on all models includes autonomous emergency braking (AEB), active lane keeping assist, rear-cross traffic alert, rear lane change alert and blind spot monitoring. The LC500 includes adaptive cruise control as standard and we found it is the best implementation of the system in a Lexus so far. The controls for this system are also now found on the steering wheel, rather than a steering wheel mounted wand.
So, what do we think of the Lexus LC500?
Striking design and a thumping V8 headline Lexus’ new flagship model. It lives up to the Luxury Coupe moniker with its premium cabin finish and luxury seats. It lacks some practicality as far as storage goes and the $190,000 price tag feels too high.