September 06, 2019 By Kevin C. Limjoco Photos by Isabel N. Delos Reyes

2018 Lexus LC500

Seems more often now than before, our best planned test schedules get altered beyond our control by the sheer might of nature and we thankfully always adjust accordingly. The larger scale events include James Deakin and I driving around a massive forest fire in Yosemite almost 9 years ago in a BMW X6M which we ended up journeying through three US states and covered close to 8,000 kilometers, hundreds of those kilometers on Arizona’s deserts! Then a year later, Isabel and I risked it all to get through the volcanic ash ejected during the 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland which resulted in the largest European air-traffic shut-down since World War II, so we would get to Italy to test the Ferrari 458 Italia for the first time and award Horacio Pagani once again for his Zonda R among other tests during that period. The most recent calamity hit Northern California with forest fires that scorched more than 230,000 acres since they began in October 8 in Wine Country.

We had a grand plan to take the all-new Lexus LC500 grand coupé on a 1,957-mile (3,131 kilometers) route that would have taken the very flamboyant concept car-esque through almost half of Oregon to Eugene, then head east for Boise, Idaho. From there, our next stop was south to Winnemucca, Nevada, where we would have head a bit north west again to Mount Shasta in Siskiyou before heading finally back to San Francisco, California. With as many as 10,000 firefighters from throughout California and surrounding states aiding to battle the vast fires that destroyed or damaged more than 5,500 homes, displaced 100,000 people and killed at least 41, we obviously had to recalculate how we would explore the abilities of the LC500 in a considerably more reasonable format. The plan to visit the lands of the fabled Bigfoot and one of the most prolific UFO-sighting hubs was scrapped for more humdrum daily routes that still culminated to just over 900 kilometers.

So, what did we discover after all that still healthy test mileage? Plenty! We did still have a week in our in-your-face Infrared painted test car which had almost every essential option installed except for the active rear wing and rear wheel steering. I missed neither. The interior, however opulent and fabulous, was dampened by a sea of somber Black leather with Alcantara, though I would prefer the available Toasted Caramel leather or, better yet, the bespoke nautical-themed Ivory leather packaged with the contrasting blue and caramel with Platinum Silver exterior.

The LC is built at the same Toyota Motomachi facility that produced the ultra-limited 500 LFA supercars. As you may already know, the LC is the first Lexus model to use the new, front-engine/rear-wheel drive platform, dubbed the Global Architecture – Luxury (GA-L) platform. So, it uses a more robust and larger platform compared to the RC-F. The LC is definitely a larger grand coupé with a substantially longer by 5.5 inches wheelbase, making the body 2.2 inches longer and 3 inches wider.

However, the trunk, even without the active wing, swallows .7 cubic feet less space. With a larger fuel tank and quick-shifting, in 0.12 seconds, 10-speed automatic gearbox, the LC extends fuel range by at least another 210 kilometers compared to the RC-F.

Lexus is very proud to state that the LC500 is powered by their most powerful normally aspirated V8 engine ever, even if it is only 4 bhp and 9 lb-ft of torque more than the powerplants in both the RC-F and GS-F. The redline was raised to 7,300 rpm which is lovely, but despite the liberal use of aluminum, self-piercing rivets, carbon fiber reinforced plastic composites, higher grade steel, and special adhesives, the LC500 weighs roughly 322 pounds more than the RC-F.

With the mild increase of power, the new transmission takes up most of the credit for being able to match the performance of the slightly smaller RC-F (which is already a very heavy grand tourer), as even the aerodynamics are the same .33 drag coefficient. Amazingly, the LC500 has a lower roofline than the RC-F but it actually has a bit more ground clearance which is great because I was worried that the massive Lexus grille would start scooping up more road debris than channel air to cool the brakes and engine.

The extra weight mostly comes from all the new upgrades applied to the LC500. For example, the new Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) features dampers that are continuously variable through 650 levels—an increase of 641 from the previous Lexus system. The audio system is a deeply rocking 13-speaker, 915-watt Mark Levinson Reference Surround Sound that is managed through a huge but thankfully crisp central 10.25-inch split-screen multimedia display. The cabin is not just more beautiful and stylish, but also more accommodating, though I still wouldn’t suggest having adult passengers sit at the back longer than an hour. Yes, it’s slightly more spacious but not by much. The very comfortable front seats, though, are wonderful; they are very supportive, look and feel great whether you are driving spiritedly or cruising long distance on the highway. The brakes and optional forged 21-inch wheels are also larger than before. The brakes are still Brembo® six-piston monoblock calipers up front with four-piston units at the rear but the sizes went up from 14.9-inch slotted and ventilated discs to 15.7-inch two-piece ventilated discs up front and from 13.5-inch slotted and ventilated discs at the rear to now 14.1-inch two-piece ventilated discs. The LC500 brakes are actually bigger than the carbon ceramic units used in the LFA and the V8 engine makes more torque than the supercar’s V10.

The LC500 does source the dynamic instrument cluster and the magnesium shift paddles from the LFA. The bigger jump is on the alloys, going from 19-inch units on the RC-F to the optional 21-inch (8.5 inches wide in front and 9.5 inches wide at the rear) units with significantly more rubber for both grip and compliance, from 255/35R19 fronts and rear 275/35R19 to 245/40R21 96Y front and 275/35R21 99Y rear run-flat Bridgestone Potenza S001L RFT tires.

The cabin is extra quiet and allows just the right amount of that intoxicating V8 bale at full throttle. Even without the rear wing and rear steering, the LC500 did have the optional TORSEN® limited-slip differential, so the handling felt way more alive than I had expected especially given the weight. There are six driving modes that you can select (Eco, Comfort, Normal, Custom, Sport, and Sport+) so you can literally tailor-fit exactly how you would want the LC500 to behave. Unlike the RC-F, the LC500 actually feels lighter on its feet yet its rolling refinement is exceptional. Even with the Sport+ fully engaged and attacking corners in our favorite proving grounds, the big Lexus soaked up road imperfections admirably while remaining very tactile to the driver through the very quick and precise adaptive steering.

I love the LC500. Sure, I wish it could have more power, and there is a more powerful version coming soon, but its current visual and emotional drama that it creates are already brilliant. The car is so good that I would actually sacrifice some manic acceleration for even better everyday versatility through the 500h hybrid variant that gives up nothing else and retains all the creature comforts, and 90% of the realistically explorable pace. In sum, the LC500 may match the smaller RC-F dynamically, but it performs with better comfort, presence, ease, fuel efficiency, safety, and aesthetics.

Specifications

Engine

Engine V8, 4969 cc, dohc 32V, Direct Injection, Dual-VVT-i, 10-speed AT
Max Power (bhp @ rpm) 471 bhp @ 7100 rpm
Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm) 398 lb ft @ 4800-5600 rpm

Performance

Top Speed 269 km/h (168 mph) Governed
0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph 4.6 sec.

Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions

Fuel Milage (km/l) 16 mpg City & 26 mpg Highway

Ratings

Price as Tested (PHP) US$ 102,890.00
What's Great A real sultry gem with a 7300 rpm redline, an even higher masterstroke of attainable high-performance form and function for Lexus.
What's Not So Could easily handle more power, small trunk, actually not faster than the RCF. If you want more power, you will have to wait for the upcoming twin-turbo 600 bhp LC-F. There is also the 354 bhp net LC500h which is .3 seconds slower with a 250 km/h top speed but yields 26 mph City and 35 mpg Highway but costs US$4,510.00 more.
C! Editors Rating 10/10
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