Lexus LC Review
The Lexus LC’s styling is so jaw-dropping – and the V8 model’s performance is so invigorating – you may be willing to accept that it isn’t that practical, even for a coupe.
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The Lexus LC is the sort of car that satisfies your eyes, ears and backside. That’s because it looks sensational, it sounds like someone’s stuck a NASCAR engine into it, and it performs like a fleeing hare.
You’ll keep the smile on your face when you see the Lexus smart cabin. Its high-quality materials and original design mean it feels a cut above even classy alternatives such as the Mercedes-AMG C63 and Audi RS5.
Sadly, while it looks great, the LC500’s unconventional dashboard layout can make it a pain to use. Things that are easy to do in the Mercedes or Audi – like adjusting the ventilation system and stereo – are annoyingly fiddly in the Lexus.
Unfortunately, things only get worse when you encounter the horrible infotainment system, which you need a Masters degree in computer science and the hand-eye coordination of a professional ping pong player just to use.
The LC500 has more pulling power than a 20-year-old George Clooney holding a labrador puppy
You’ll find the cramped interior easier to put up with given the Lexus’ svelte styling. Two people will be extremely happy in the spacious front seats, but the back seats are next to useless. Mind you, perhaps that’s not such an issue, because the boot’s so small it won’t take more than two people’s luggage, anyway.
Starting the LC’s V8 for the first time will soon take your mind off ‘trivial’ matters such as practicality, though, as it bellows out a bassy rumble that sounds like it belongs on the set of Days of Thunder.
With 0-62mph taking 4.7 seconds, the LC’s not quite NASCAR quick, but it’s plenty quick enough and what the V8 lacks in outright grunt it more than makes up for in character. In fact, it is such a pivotal part of the experience you may find it hard to consider the meek – admittedly cheaper to run and still quick – LC500h hybrid model.
Likewise, if you want your LC to be as sharp in bends as possible, you’ll need the Sport Plus pack, which includes rear-wheel steering and a grip-finding limited-slip differential. But, even when there’s no time for fun, the Lexus’ low-stressed engines, quiet cabin and long list of safety kit make it an extremely relaxing car to cover ground in.
But the reason the LC should be at the top of your shopping list – if you’re looking for a fast and stylish GT car – is its huge desirability that’ll make you the envy of all your friends.
The Lexus has loads of space for two adults, but even small kids will lose the blood supply to their legs in the back seat, and the boot is small and awkward to load.
Getting a comfortable driving position is easy because the front seats have height adjustment, slide miles back on their runners and you get an electrically adjustable steering wheel that moves for rake and reach.
Lumbar adjustment is standard, too, and it’s more supportive than the inflating airbags you get in some cars’ seats. But, while that’s a welcome way of staving off backache on a long journey, the narrow seats can administer you with a dead leg if you rack up serious miles and aren’t, well, the ‘spindliest’ of people.
On the upside, heated seats and a heated steering wheel come as standard and are brilliant for kickstarting your body on cold mornings, while their ventilation function will stop you sweating in the summer.
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for the sweaty palms your friends will experience if you threaten to imprison them in the cramped back seat. The low roof and tight space behind the front seats makes getting in tricky and, if you thought rescuing Chilean miners was hard, just wait until you attempt to extract someone from the back of the LC.
As a result, if you need a coupe that’s also practical, you’d be much better off considering the more conventionally styled Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe or Audi RS 5.
The LC isn’t over-endowed with interior cubby spaces, but there are enough to keep the cabin tidy on the kind of cross-continental adventures the car was built for.
There’s a decent amount of storage under the huge front centre armrest and a USB port so you can leave your phone concealed without having to unplug it every time you stop for petrol – which you’ll be doing rather a lot in the V8 model.
While the door pockets aren’t huge, they’ll take a small bottle of water sitting on its side and you get three cupholders – two under the armrest and a third in front of the gearstick. The latter is a brilliant place to stick your phone when you inevitably give up on using the car’s built in sat-nav.
Unfortunately, Lexus hasn’t managed to pull off any miracles by packing a big boot underneath the LC500’s svelte body. Whichever way you look at it, it’s small.
How small depends on whether you go for the LC500 V8 or the LC500h hybrid. The former has a 197-litre capacity, but the hybrid – which hides its electrical gubbins under the floor – can only manage 172 litres.
Neither figure is brilliant when you consider that alternatives – such as the Audi RS5 (465 litres) and the Mercedes C-Class Coupe (355 litres) – have significantly more luggage space.
Both these cars are also a lot easier to load than the Lexus, which suffers from a high load lip that you’ll have to lift your belongings over and a small opening that is hard to squeeze luggage through.
The LC500’s V8 sounds great and serves up plenty of performance, but some people might put up with the hybrid model’s lack of charisma in return for its slightly cheaper running costs.
The Lexus LC is available with two engines – a petrol-electric hybrid in the LC500h and the 5.0-litre V8 petrol fitted to the LC500.
The former will make a lot of sense if you let your head do the talking, because it combines excellent performance with fuel economy that’s pretty decent for a car like this. Power comes from a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine that’s boosted by an electric motor to produce 359hp.
The combination is enough to get the LC from 0-62mph in just five seconds – so it’ll beat most hot hatches away from the lights – yet can also return fuel economy of more than 40mpg on a variety of roads and even briefly run on electric power alone in town. To get a similar mixture of performance and economy from an alternative, you’d have to go for a clattery diesel.
But if the hybrid model makes a strong case for buying with your head, the 5.0-litre V8 petrol in the LC500 makes an even more compelling argument to let your heart do the talking.
Its thundering soundtrack makes the LC feel truly exotic and the figures – it’s only three tenths of a second quicker than the hybrid to 62mph – fail to convey the effortless nature with which the V8 can build speed. Arguably, this is what turns the Lexus from a good car to a truly great car.
But, of course, there is a downside and that’s that fuel economy can easily drop below 20mpg in town or when the car’s driven hard, although a super-tall tenth gear – which means the engine is barely ticking over on the motorway – means 40mpg is surprisingly easy to achieve at a steady cruise.
If you do decide to take the plunge with the V8 engine, you’ll also want to splash out on the £9,300 Sport Plus Pack.
Amongst other things, it adds a limited-slip differential, adjustable suspension and rear-wheel steering. You also get a carbon fibre roof that makes no appreciable difference to the way the car drives, but looks cool.
What matters, though, is that, with the Sport Plus Pack fitted, the big LC feels smaller than it really is and the sharp steering lets you slice through corners with the instinctive precision of a veteran surgeon performing a routine procedure.
As you start to immerse yourself in the driving experience, you soon tire of letting the occasionally ponderous 10-speed automatic gearbox do its thing and assume full control of the shifts. Doing this allows you to hold on to gears for a little longer and surge between corners, making full use of the V8’s screaming 7,100rpm redline.
When you’re not in the mood for tearing about the countryside, though, the automatic’s super-tall tenth gear means the LC can maintain Autobahn cruising speeds while the engine’s barely ticking over. Even at these speeds, engine and road noise aren’t an issue, although the large tyres transmit a fair amount of noise into the cabin.
On the upside, in its softest setting, the suspension is comfortable enough to take the stress out of a long journey, even if it can get found out in town, occasionally bouncing over potholes and broken surfaces.
Mind you, it’s not a hard car to drive in built up areas – visibility out the back is decent, and having front parking sensors and a rear view camera mean you can sneak into spaces without having to worry about scrapes.
And it’s around town that the hybrid model makes the best case for itself. You still get the brilliant looks, but now they’re combined with affordable running costs and an electric-only running mode that’s perfect for gliding silently through the city. Sadly, the uninspiring engine noise and lazy CVT gearbox mean it can never offer the thrills of the V8 model.
Safety, meanwhile, remains the same whichever model you choose. All LCs come well equipped, with kit such as lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control. Auto-dipping headlights are also standard, but somewhat ineffective, as – judging by the frantic flashing we encountered – even the dipped lights blind other road users.
The Lexus LC’s interior looks brilliant and feels like a million dollars – even the frankly awful infotainment system and haphazard dashboard layout can’t dampen your enthusiasm.