Review: Lexus LC500h – an impressive vision of the future

It looks like a concept car, yet it is a sports car available nowadays. In today’s test, the unique Lexus LC in the hybrid LC500h version.

Lexus LC is one of the latest GT cars on the market. Its premiere took place in January 2016 during the Detroit fair and its production started in March 2017. When I saw the first photos of the model during its premiere, I didn’t like design at all. It seemed to me that the shape of the headlights was exaggerated, and the body shape too large – the car is very wide (1920 mm) and very low (1345 mm), making it seem disproportionate.

After a few days of testing I began to perceive the LC completely different and I liked this somewhat crazy look very much. Compared to Porsche 911, Mercedes-AMG GT or even Aston Martin’s DB11, Lexus LC seems to be the least boring compared to the rivals. But how else could a car that the manufacturer proudly advertises as a vehicle designed by 4000 people look like?

Lexus LC pays attention to itself on a normal daily ride, regardless of the situation and even in gloomy grey lacquer. It often happened to me that when I was standing on a red light, people were running to take a photo and record when the car starts, and at the petrol station many people want to change two words and congratulate the car. Sitting behind the LC wheel we can also count on photos from carspotters – only this particular copy has 20 photos in the popular Autogespot.

The interior is the latest vision of Lexus designers. Unlike other models of the manufacturer, the dashboard is divided into two sections and the display is separated at the top. The whole project looks modern and luxurious. The number of buttons is also kept to a minimum by moving many functions such as heating and ventilation of the seat directly to the infotainment system. As a disadvantage can be considered only one drink holder and its location, lack of space for a phone other than a locker and an armrest, from which the cables cannot be pulled outside.

Depending on your choice of equipment from three possible variants, you can choose between comfortable or bucket-type sports seats. The SuperTurismo version of the tested model is equipped with these sports and they are multi-purpose. When driving aggressively, they hold our body well and at the same time they are so comfortable that I didn’t feel fatigue after driving almost 1000-kilometre long to the north of Poland.

It is said that sports coupe cars are only 2-person cars, even with an additional 2 seats behind them. The Lexus LC, the 2+2 design, is exactly the same. Adults may only sit at the front and attempts to sit behind may result in legache at most when folding the seat backrest. Even teenagers in the back will have very little space and the only passenger can be small children in the seats – there are isofix handles available for them.

The boot capacity of a sports car such as the Lexus LC is secondary. However, everyone sometimes goes to a meeting or visiting a family and why should we drive a large limousine instead of our sports car? Here the capacity is extremely low – it is only 172 litres, so there is enough space for two small suitcases and a few little things. This is caused by placing the battery and repair kit under the floor and a bit lower 82 litre fuel tank and drive train.

Lexus LC made its debut in January 2017 with the conventional drive unit signed as LC500, and two months later, the world saw a hybrid version with the notation “h”. Currently, engineers are working on a stronger and heavily modified LC-F, which is expected to be introduced in early 2019 and the most powerful and fastest Lexus in history.

In the classic version under the bonnet there is a 5-litre V8 engine which generates 477 hp and 540 Nm. this unit is taken out of sports models with the acronym “F” – RC-F and GS-F. Here, the transmission of the drive is carried out by a 10-stage, classic 1-clutch gearbox and the whole power is transferred to the rear axle.

Today the subject of the test is the hybrid LC500h. This is a unique construction using the V6 3.5-litre, 299-horsepower V6 motor as a base unit, with a 179-horsepower electric motor. The whole system is managed by the innovative Multistage Hybrid transmission, which consists of an e-CVT transmission with 10 gears and a 4-speed classical automatic. The total output is 359 hp and is transmitted to the rear axle only.

Driving experience is amazing. The car simply drives exactly the way it looks – phenomenally. The engineers managed to achieve an almost perfect weight distribution – 52/48, which translates into the brilliant driving characteristics.

Probably the best thing is steering system. The Lexus LC reacts precisely to the steering wheel movement and drives exactly as we wish. Even the tiniest, sudden change of direction is perfectly reflected and we have a sense of perfect control over the situation.

I was very impressed by the suspension. In this car, we expect it to be very hard and the 10-second descent from a perfectly smooth surface will be remembered until the end of the day. This is not the case here. The suspension is not so soft, but it forgives us a lot. Driving into a small hole does not end with a broken wheel, but only with a light shock absorber.

For a better adaptation of the car to the current road situation and our preferences, we have a total of 7 driving modes that affect the engine, gearbox, suspension and traction control. The last one is also controlled by the second switch behind the steering wheel, which can be partially or completely switched off and set to Snow mode to support us on snowy roads.

Driving a car of this size causes obvious problems in everyday use. As I mentioned at the beginning, the car is very wide and low. Most other road users treat us as if we had a maximum width of 1.6 m as an average car on European roads. This makes it easy for us to be forced to rescue our side mirrors or to be unable to go further, because the road is too narrow and we will not fit with the bus going from the other side.

There is also a concern with moving along all the side roads, and those with a poor surface fall off at the beginning. All due to the huge, 21-inch rims and low-profile tyres. It often happened to me to make up for several dozen kilometers, just to not get a bill for a set of new wheels.

Due to the winter weather during the test, I had no opportunity to take my car to the track and check what it can do if we have no limits. I wasn’t able to check if the car really is accelerating to “hundreds” in 5 seconds and how much Sport+ mode with traction control turned off allows. This and much more I will try to check during the test of the petrol version LC500 with 5-litre V8 under the bonnet.

Lexus LC is a car that seems to be from another planet. It has a brave and beautiful design, which makes a great impression when we encounter it on the road and the car will not age for the next dozen or so years. Its driving characteristics are excellent and the comfort of travelling is shockingly high for GranTurismo.

Hybrid version of this model is a misunderstanding for many people. However, in reality it is interesting because of the still excellent performance and huge savings during refuelling. After all, it is not important for everyone to have the car shoot from the exhaust at standstill. Is it right?

Text and photos: Michał Śniadek

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