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.
You'd pay £80,000 just to get the LC500's V8 engine, so getting the car thrown as well seems like the bargain of the century
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.
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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.