By all appearances, the Lexus LC500 is a world class coupe to compete with the German automaker’s entries…
by Wallace Wyss –
The proportions of the Lexus LC500 are those of an American muscle car; think Mustang. Yet the car is built for a loftier market, meant to compete with Europe’s best four seater luxury coupes.
The 5.0 liter engine is 3.5 inches in back of the front axle. When you open the hood there’s a lot of crossbraces to add structural rigidity which is why you get the airy roofline.
The Lexus LC500 engine is derived from the proven, high-revving 5.0-liter V8 that is found in the RC F and GS F. The all-aluminum, 32-valve V8’s output is quoted at 467 HP and 389 lb.-ft. of torque.
It sounds like this car plays quite a melody. In their press release, they say: “The LC 500’s special exhaust sound-control valves activate during start-up, helping to provide a robust growl when coming to life. During acceleration, a Sound Generator enhances the engine’s raucous melody into an aural thunder that helps distinguish the LC 500 in its competitive segment.”
The Lexus LC500 engine is mated to a newly developed 10-speed automatic transmission―the first ever in a luxury automobile―with shift times they say rivals those of a dual-clutch transmission.
In the press kit Toyota said this car is the first Lexus to use the brand’s all-new, premium rear-wheel-drive luxury platform that is not shared with any current Lexus models and is part of the new corporate global architecture for luxury vehicles(GA-L).
This chassis will become the blueprint for the company’s future front-engine/rear-wheel-drive vehicles. In an effort to make the car’s handling world class, they say the LC 500’s engineers focused on the platform’s fundamentals by placing most of the mass, including the engine and the occupants, more centralized and lower in the chassis to improve the center of gravity.
The Lexus LC500 press release says: “Internally, Lexus engineers referred to this menu of mass-arranging tactics as the “inertia spec”. The driver hip and heel points have been lowered, wheels pushed to the corners of the car with shortened overhangs, and the drivetrain mass has been located behind the front axle line to create a front mid-ship layout. The LC 500 also relies on run-flat tires to improve packaging, reduce weight (thanks to no spare), and help shorten overhangs in the interest of dynamic targets.”
The 12-volt battery was relocated to the trunk to help accomplish their goal of redistributing weight.
The car tips the scales at 4,280 pounds, close to the BMW 6 Series but well below the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe’s 4,700 pounds. But that’s a bit of an unfair comparison because the Benz is all-wheel drive.
They quote 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds but don’t give a top speed. I would say if it’s ungoverned, 175 MPH would be possible. They don’t quote a price, but this is a car that would compete with the best Mercedes and BMW coupes so would be in that ballpark.
Here’s a critique of the design, angle by angle:
It’s got that big maw, that toothy air intake that looks sort of praying manta-ish. But the mesh is expensive looking (dare we say Bentley-like) so doesn’t look “mean” so much “mean” as “expensive.”
It is amazing they still can deliver an energy absorbing front area with the grille so exposed. The vertical LED lighting is well integrated, giving the car a look of its own when only the driving lights are on, but not the full headlamps.
The “floating hardtop” (the phrase used for a break in color on the roof pillars) is being used by a lot of automakers, to make the roof look lighter—like it’s detached from the lower body. The flush door handles look expensive.
The scoops on the lower side are well integrated and don’t look as “added on” as they do on much lower priced American cars. The rear fender “haunches” are strong looking and give the car most of its performance car character.
The decision to have the side glass beltline run a few inches below the continuation of the hood line gives a sort of mismatch from the side like the last version of the Mitsubishi Mirage but that way the roof could be lower and the car still offer good side visibility.
The mis-match between the hoodline and the lower window line is more marked in some colors than others. The fact that everyone of them comes with a flowing carbon-fiber roof (glass roof standard) gives it a somewhat airy look counteracting the claustrophobia some low roof coupes have.
Those three-way taillights seem to be overreaching—in that they go to the side, part of it travels downward and part of it wraps around to the sides of the car. The chrome metal exhaust surrounds complement the rear sculpturing. It’s not that obvious in the pictures but there is a rear diffuser and available active rear spoiler.
Why oh why do some automakers (Jaguar and now this car) insist on such a huge grab handle for the passenger in the front? Do they think the passenger will be panicking at the speeds available? The bucket seats in front appear to be adequate in helping counteract side loads.
The instrument panel seems dominated by an overly large tachometer—I would think that is more important in a car built largely for track use.
It’s not as daring as say, the Bentley EXP10 prototype but it’s still far more sophisticated than anything Detroit is building in that category.
It’s also undoubtedly going to be pricier than any coupe Detroit offers but you’ll be getting top-notch quality in fit and finish and reliability for that price.
Let us know what you think in the Comments.
THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is the author of the Incredible Barn Finds series, available directly from the publisher, Enthusiast Books, at (715) 381 9755.
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