This test might not have taken place, since some time ago I was almost ready to order a Dodge Challenger from the USA. But colleagues advised to look more closely at the Lexus. And despite the opposite philosophy of these models, according to the criteria of having a rear-wheel drive and using it as a weekend car, I could easily afford to compare them. That’s how it all started.
The Lexus LC 500h front view
It should be noted at once that I am not a fan of the Japanese car industry, and in General I never thought about such a car as the Lexus LC. Nevertheless, I wondered what he was like. In addition, the opportunity to take this LC for a long-term test turned up. Looking ahead, I will say that this compartment surprised me very much. Especially considering the conditions in which I was able to test it.
During the test, I really wanted to understand what class this car belongs to: supercar, sports car or Gran Turismo? It was also interesting to find out whether this coupe is suitable to use as an everyday car, or whether it is still an option for “special occasions”. I also wanted to find the advantages (or disadvantages) of this Lexus over Porsche or Maserati, and also to understand whether it makes sense to compare it with Mercedes or BMW.
To answer all the questions, I decided to try this Lexus on a family trip to the Carpathians. Yes, the things of two adults and two children in the trunk of 175 liters, of course, did not fit. So we took everything we needed with us, and the rest of the Luggage went to the delivery service.
Given the specific shape of the body, I wasn’t sure that even children would be comfortable in the back. Especially in the context of upcoming long journeys. But the younger passengers, sitting in their child seats, did not feel any inconvenience on the road. These cars are more focused on those who sit in the front, but the rear sofa here is still equipped with ISOFIX mounts, so there were no problems with installing child seats. Even before I took the Lexus LC on a long trip, I was worried that the huge 21-wheel drive and low ground clearance might be a problem and not allow me to get where I want to go. Still, we are talking about a trip to the mountains. But just the clearance pleasantly surprised me, although more on that later.
The origin of the model
The history of the Lexus LC began in the late 2000s. At that time, the brand showed the world the concepts of its first LFA supercar with a V10 engine from Yamaha. With the release of this model, the Japanese manufacturer proved that Motorsport for Toyota is far from the past.
From a commercial point of view, the idea with the release of the DAN model was a failure. All 500 produced supercars were sold at a loss. Nevertheless, the company’s image skyrocketed. Taking advantage of this fact, in 2012, Lexus showed the LF-LC concept. Many saw it as a civilian successor to the LFA supercar. Four years later, almost unchanged, the LC model was launched in the series.
Engines and technologies
First, a 5.0-liter V8 engine was installed under the hood, which produced 477 horsepower. Then the line of power plants was supplemented by a more modern sports hybrid. This is the engine equipped with our test car – LC 500h. Immediately it is worth noting that a completely different hybrid technology is used here (compared to the” normal ” Lexus). At least because there are two transmissions.
Lexus LC 500h engine
But the main thing is that even then the public had an important question, the answer to which is still unknown. What kind of car is it: a supercar, a sports car, or a Gran Turismo? The manufacturer initially stated that this coupe should be classified as a luxury GT. After all, the relatively modest dynamics does not give the Lexus LC a chance to directly compete with the ultimate sports cars. But at the same time, Japanese engineers have equipped this car with so many super-modern and expensive technologies that this coupe, it seems to me, is somehow cramped among the “highway yachts” of Gran Turismo.
The body here is half carbon fiber. The chassis is fully controlled, like BMW and Porsche. Also, the Lexus LC has almost perfect weight distribution along the axes and a low center of gravity, just like the LFA model. There is also a self-locking Torsen differential in the rear axle and variable-sharp steering. The cherry on the cake can be considered a unique suspension with adaptive shock absorbers, which can give a sporty drive and a comfortable ride at the same time. But the main thing is that all of the above is not empty words: the car really goes well and tenaciously holds on to the road. At the same time, it is perfectly controlled and gives emotions that we have not expected from the Japanese car industry for a long time.
I wonder why this seemingly almost flawless Lexus never became a bestseller? After all, it is much less common than any Porsche 911, Audi RS or BMW M-series. In my opinion, the Japanese here just don’t want to play by the General rules. After all, you will agree, they could equip this car with some kind of sports, but twitchy “robot” and launch-control. As a result, the LC could show acceleration to 100 km/h in some 4 seconds (and not in 5, as it is now). But Japanese engineers decided to focus on comfort and reliability. But the target audience did not understand this idea, paying attention to the relatively modest dynamic indicators.
Lexus LC 500h automatic transmission selector
Yes, and with marketing, it seems to me, too, not finalized. After all, in order for this car to be noticeable not only in Japan, it had to be shown in some blockbuster like one of the bond films or in the next series of “fast and Furious”. But the blue LC 500 appeared only in the next film adaptation of the fantastic comic book from Marvel “Black Panther”.
And the cost of this car is off the scale. Which is logical, given the technologies that engineers have implemented here. Therefore, the price here is certainly not lower than that of the historical leaders of this class. As a result, most potential buyers have either not heard of this model at all, or simply did not expect anything truly outstanding from Lexus. In our market, due to high duties on 5.0-liter LC cars, about 120-140 thousand dollars were asked for a car. Now something has changed, and a well-equipped LC can be purchased at a price of 88 to 115 thousand rubles. (at the time of the test release – Infocar.ua). So it turns out that the price of this Lexus is no more than that of some Mercedes E-Coupe or BMW 8-series, but only with basic engines.
This is not a hybrid setup like other Lexus models. The engineers were tasked with building the first Toyota sports hybrid, and in a sense they did it. It was based on a hybrid installation from Lexus GS with a 3.5-liter gasoline engine and a planetary variator. But here, between this bundle and the wheels, another box was added – a four-stage torque Converter. In addition, the electric motor and battery were replaced with lighter, compact and productive ones. The result is the world’s first Multi-Stage Hybrid.
Lexus LC 500h top view
All this resulted in faster gear changes, and the range of gear ratios became much wider. With a relatively low power of 360 HP, the car shows improved dynamics and lower consumption. But it is also important that the Lexus LC received the most cherished sounds and jerks when switching, which are so lacking in conventional hybrids. Each of the four gears of the torque Converter is as if multiplied by three virtual gears of the variator. In fact, this technology allows us to say that the total number of transmissions here is 12. But it seems that the Japanese were too shy, so they only display values up to ten on the dashboard. Probably to emphasize in this way: the hybrid LC is almost as good as the petrol one, where a ten-speed “automatic” is actually installed.
But in the dynamics of a special breakthrough did not happen. To begin with, it is worth saying that before this, the fastest hybrid in the Lexus model range was the GS 450h. That car accelerated to the first “hundred” in 5.9 s. of Course, the hybrid LC significantly improved its performance, accelerating (according to the passport) in 5 s. But many expected more from such technologies and a considerable price.
Lexus LC 500h suspension
I was able to accelerate to 100 km/h on the LC 500h in only 5.5 seconds, but it was during a 30-degree heat wave. In any case, there is a very big loss at the start, which, again, could be compensated for by a super-fast “robot” and launch control. Yes, two tons of hybrid mass make itself felt (even despite the use of magnesium and carbon in large quantities). On the other hand, as soon as the car reaches 30 km/h and the signal of the working traction control goes out, we get something completely different. Now it’s like it’s not a hybrid at all. The LC 500h accelerates very well, switching gears rhythmically, and the pleasant sound of the engine buzzes furiously in the speakers. The hybrid coupe is ready to change 200 km/h in 22 seconds.
During the launch of this model, Japanese engineers said that this is the first hybrid Lexus that is ready to drive the tires into a slip. But intelligent electronics settings are not completely disabled, and the complex transmission scheme of the moment to the wheels, alas, does not allow you to turn the Lexus LC into a real car for drifting. Apparently, the Japanese simply do not understand why the hybrid has such a feature. After all, it is destined to win over a more Mature, intelligent audience in Europe. Probably for the same reason, the exhaust system was essentially silenced here.
Lexus LC 500h acceleration to 100
Of course, there are a lot of connoisseurs of this approach, but a hybrid car will never become the dream of yesterday’s yard hooligans. For them, there is another LC, 5.0-liter. There are already specially configured exhaust system dampers and a sound moderator on the intake create a completely different effect. In addition, a V8 with almost 500 HP is installed under the hood. unlike the hybrid, this “monster” easily confirms its acceleration in 4.7 s to 100 km/h. It accelerates to 200 km/h in less than 20 seconds. Of course, the fuel consumption is already more than 20 l / 100 km, and you are unlikely to drive at least 600 km with a full tank. But thanks to the torque of 540 Nm and, so to speak, the direct connection of the engine with the wheels, this car is already a serious contender for the role of tire destroyer.
This car attracts the eyes of all around: both pedestrians and drivers. And in General, I think that this is the best car drawn by the Japanese in the last decade. There is some inexplicable magic in LC. I don’t know how to explain it, but unlike most of the expensive cars I’ve driven, this coupe attracts not hatred, but positive emotions. Everyone takes pictures of LC, looks after him and sees him off with a smile. The secret of this behavior of others is unknown to me.
Lexus LC 500h rear view
But the main thing is that this coupe looks very expensive, even in white. The appearance is successfully complemented by forged wheels of 21 sizes (on different tires), from under which you can see the calipers of reinforced brakes. I will also note the carbon roof, complex body shapes, and, of course, nothing like diode optics. However, the headlights are still with an ordinary automatic high beam, without the proprietary Lexus matrix Blade Scan. But they Shine very brightly.
Lexus LC 500h headlights
As a result, the only competitor in attracting the views of others in this class, I would call only Maserati GranTurismo. But the Italians have already removed this model from the Assembly line, and the last such cars have long found their owners. You can also include Aston Martin, but the brand’s models cost at least twice as much. But Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and BMW, with all due respect, have long ceased to be something exclusive with us.
Perhaps, for a complete image picture, there are not enough doors opening up a La BMW i8. But on the other hand, where did you see this in the Japanese? Probably, when creating the LC specifically abandoned pop ostentation just for the sake of practicality. This, of course, can be a cause for complaints, but it makes the car more convenient in everyday use. For example, the clearance here is as much as 14 centimeters. I am sure that many people (like me at first) will be surprised by this indicator. After all, this is even more than some “crossovers” and luxury sedans. Last but not least, thanks to the clearance, I managed to overcome difficult areas in the Carpathians, especially during heavy downpours that took us by surprise during the trip. And if you add to this the fact that the LC is equipped with adaptive suspension, which virtually eliminates the buildup in Sport mode, we can talk about the real versatility of this coupe.
After completing this difficult trip, I specially stopped at the service STATION to see if everything was all right with the bottom of the car. As a result, no problems were found: everything is intact, without damage and stands in its place. By the way, the bottom of the car is well protected by various materials: aluminum, steel and felt.
Lexus LC 500h clearance
The most vulnerable point in the LC from below, I would call a rather long front overhang. The fact is that there are no all-round cameras here, so the front dimension is almost not felt. But you can go back with confidence: there is a camera there.
I think the hybrid LC is the perfect car for traveling. First, the average consumption for the entire trip was 12 l/100 km. At the same time, it should be said that my movement speed was high, and I overtook almost everything that was noticed. The power reserve with a tank volume of 82 liters with a quiet ride is almost 1000 km. In comfort mode, the car behaves quietly and smoothly.
The main detail of the interior I would call the door cards. When you first look at them, you immediately want to touch them. They are simply incredible in their appearance and materials. So when you first get inside, you are already under the impression. The seat upholstery feels more like suede than Alcantara. I think it is a key element in the design of the LC salon. After all, it is so pleasant that it makes you not notice other, not the most luxurious details. Like, for example, the inexpensive-looking leatherette on the top of the front panel.
Lexus LC 500h interior
On the other hand, there are relatively few plastic parts that are unified with other models of the brand. Each element is carefully sheathed with some material. At the same time, everything is accompanied by a perfectly smooth line, and the Assembly is monolithic and strong. But again, do not forget that this is a car from a Japanese manufacturer, so sometimes you can (and even need) to find fault with the design, the selection of colors and, of course, the multimedia system.
The Lexus representative office will assure you that the “multimedia” here is clear and logical. It only takes a little time to get used to it. But the fact is that for a month spent with LC, I have not been able to get used to the algorithm of the settings of this system.
Lexus LC 500h multimedia
The good news is that all the main functions are placed on the hard buttons, so you don’t have to use the display very often. You only need to connect your phone via Bluetooth once, and activate the automatic seat ventilation mode. However, Apple CarPlay is not yet available (this feature will appear only on models in 2020). As for me, this is a big drawback, because it is very inconvenient to use standard navigation here.
But as for the audio system, this is, to put it mildly, everything is in order. The sound of compositions in the Lexus LC 500h is incomparable thanks to the Mark Levinson audio system on special order from Lexus, its components are specially lightened by 30 % compared to other models. Each speaker lost 100 grams of weight, but the sound quality was not affected by this diet. Making a small salon sound good is just as difficult as making an extra-large one. But in this case, the engineers did a great job.
Lexus LC 500h wheel and door cards
The digital dashboard is equipped with a dynamic “well”, like the LFA model. This is a branded “feature” of Lexus, which looks very cool. But I have complaints about the fonts on the panel.
It’s great that the entire middle vertical part of the torpedo is covered with glass. It looks interesting, while the glass does not create glare and does not scratch. And the interior has a very delicate lighting.
Lexus LC 500h seats
With a height of 193 cm in many coupes, I have problems with landing either in height or width. But the LC interior is very well thought out in this regard, so I easily found a comfortable position. Even though the seat is equipped with a fairly small (compared to the same Porsche) number of adjustments. Nevertheless, it is comfortable to sit here, and the ventilation works perfectly.
For the incredible balance of driving characteristics, I just love this car. Given its class, I will say that it is comfortable to move on the Lexus LC, even despite the huge size of the wheels. At the same time, the coupe is perfectly controlled and holds on to the asphalt as firmly as you may need it in 99% of situations. For example, during my trip on the difficult roads of the Carpathians, I never ran into the limit of the suspension and brakes. Of course, I did not test the car in extreme situations and did not try to go too far (and the dynamics of this car is still not comparable to supercars). But at the same time, he did not deny himself the pleasure. Of course, it feels like a heavy hybrid, but this feeling adds even more to the perception of the car as a good one.
Lexus LC 500h road behavior
From Lexus, I initially expected comfort. But I was sure that the engineers would completely ruin the entire drive with the same comfort. As a result, this car became something else for me, not just a Lexus. Some other dimension.
Lexus LC 500h driving in the city on paving stones
The suspension works very well on large bumps. Sometimes, even with acceleration, you fly into a hole, but there is no sense of breakdown. Also, small shagreen leaves unnoticed. But occasionally, when you get to some average profile (especially in the city), you start to think that the 21st diameter of the disks is still too much. An alternative to it are 20-e-basic-disks, and they are also forged. And this is a huge advantage in the fight against unsprung masses.
How can I praise the LC so much if I know what a Porsche is and have driven a 992 body? It’s very simple. The Porsche 911 is an ultimate sports car. Although the most everyday of the top sports cars. And the Lexus LC is the most beautiful everyday car with very good sports car features.
Lexus LC 500h driving on a dirt road
Of course, Lexus will lose to Porsche on the track. The Japanese car is heavier, and it just won’t catch up with the German. He will not enter the Porsche in one turn and will not have time to brake as effectively. That’s just the confidence that many choose a Porsche, but later pay the price with an overly sharp steering wheel and gearbox, as well as a (relative) lack of noise insulation.
All this can be endured if you drive a car like this two days a month or have the opportunity to stop at some race track like the Nurburgring. But of these two cars, I wouldn’t choose the 911, for example, for traveling. And not because the Porsche is significantly more expensive. I just would like to get behind the wheel of such an extraordinary car more often, which would undoubtedly always be in the center of attention. And while I enjoy driving, I want to enjoy everything else, not compromise.
The situation with the competition between Lexus and BMW is interesting. The fact is that the Japanese started developing the LC model in the late 2000s. Just at that time, they took the example of the BMW 6 Series. They did not hide the fact that they were inspired by this German model. But only the Japanese engineers wanted to make their LC better-softer and more comfortable, taking into account all the disadvantages of BMW.
But, as is often the case with the Japanese, the process was delayed, and the Bavarians managed to release the 8th series on the market. And now the situation is such that never before have Lexus and BMW in the same class were so close to each other. Of course, they are far from identical, and there is still a huge gap between them in some aspects. Especially with regard to the multimedia system, which is almost perfect in BMW. But the thing is that now BMW has become much softer and more comfortable than before.
Lexus LC 500h on mountain roads of the Carpathians
At the same time, the Arsenal of the German coupe has a number of advantages. For example, the presence of an ultimate engine in the M850i version. This is a 4.4-liter V8 that accelerates the car for a passport 3.7 s, which Lexus can not do.
But arguments like this are broken down by the price difference. The fact is that the prices for the 8-series coupe in an absolutely basic configuration with a 3.0-liter engine, rear-wheel drive and dynamics, like the Lexus LC 500h, only starts at 100 thousand euros. For the M850i version, you will have to pay at least 120 thousand euros. And if you complete the model commensurate with the Lexus LC, you will get 140-150 thousand euros.
And Lexus has one irrefutable advantage. The prices for the official service for this car are just ridiculous. Only about 200 dollars will cost you SOMETHING for 15 thousand mileage. For THAT 30 thousand, which includes the replacement of all filters and liquids, you will give about $ 600. And let me not even tell you how much it costs to service a Porsche!..
Lexus LC 500h crossing the river in the Carpathians
Adding to this list is the reliability of Lexus, which has always been head and shoulders higher than its competitors. I think this is the only car in the class that can drive at least 150 thousand km without any problems. Although it is also not worth idealizing the brand in this regard, because now everything breaks down, and even Lexus is no exception.