2018 Lexus LC 500: From Concept to Reality
Driving the LC 500 almost feels like you’ve been let in on a secret concept car.
I remember it as if it were yesterday. Early September in 2016, that was when Lexus brought the LC 500 Concept to the Japanese Classic Car Show in Long Beach, CA. Ahead of the Los Angeles Auto Show, this was the first time the concept was displayed to the public. Upon first laying eyes on it, boy was it a sight to see. Long, sleek, and wide in the hips, thoughts of a modern SC 430 immediately come to mind. Looking straight on at the front end, you can’t help but be reminded of some LFA DNA. At the time, the LC 500 Concept looked perfect and I wondered what changes would be made for the production model. I even tried interviewing someone from Lexus PR to get some insider information, but he was tight-lipped. No dice.
Here we are in 2018 and much to my surprise (along with everyone else), the production model LC 500 is virtually unchanged aesthetically from the concept I saw two years ago. Usually when OEMs debut concepts before the actual production car hits the dealer lots, the two look quite different, more often than not. It almost seems as if the Lexus executives took one good look at the concept and said, “Looks great!” and BOOM. Well, that was easy wasn’t it?
When sticking to your guns pays off. Turbos? Not needed.
Powering the LC 500 is the very much familiar, tried and true naturally aspirated 5.0L V8 making 471 horsepower at 7,100 RPM and 398lb-ft of torque at 4,800 RPM also found in the GS F and RC F. With a 4,200 curb weight, most would wonder why Lexus didn’t opt to go with a turbocharged V6 power unit much like the one found in the LS 500. However once I got behind the wheel, I slowly begun to understand why. Even just by the simple push of the engine start button, a loud rumble emerges from the engine bay and channels all the way to exhaust trumpets, umm I mean mufflers out back.
Once I got to some open road, I gave the LC a boot-full. Launching from a dig won’t let you keep up with any Teslas (Maybe a Model 3), but you’ll definitely be pushed back into your seat. To go with the rush of speed, the orgasmic exhaust note that plays while revving to the 7,300 RPM redline is all the music one needs to hear. Equally as pleasing is the sound of the overrun from the crispy downshifts, especially when using the flappy paddles in manual mode.
“Sport + Mode is the one and only mode that should be available on the LC 500. Throttle response is at its quickest, makes the most noise, and you’ll find yourself smiling from ear to ear.”
The 10-speed automatic gearbox works well, however shorter gear ratios would’ve gone a long way. 3rd gear is tall enough to top out 89 MPH. That leaves you with 7 more gears to go and for what? To save as much fuel as possible while cruising. As if being fuel efficient is the important factor for LC 500 owners. Being conservative with fuel consumption was the last thing on my mind while driving the LC for a week. I blame the exhaust note.
Road manners and performance. This GT car shines once you get behind the wheel.
It would be an understatement to say that I was excited to finally drive the LC 500. Just from its gorgeous looks alone, I just had to see for myself what Lexus’s new luxury sport coupe was all about. Once you actually get out on the road, things start to feel very familiar – very Lexus-like. By that, I mean the ride quality feels very solid, yet providing a level of comfortability that is expected from Lexus. Engineers claim that the LC’s chassis rigidity is even stiffer than the legendary LFA. I myself have never driven the LFA, but can definitely feel how tight the chassis feels going around corners.
No matter where you drive the LC, whether it’s to the grocery store, a road trip or even on a winding road, it’s always a joy to drive. Even with its 4,200 pound curb weight, you’ll never feel like the LC is dragging you down. Only at the limit will you get a slight hint actually how much weight you’re actually hauling. Even then, the chassis is controllable under heavy braking and while changing directions. It’s no Toyota 86, but the LC 500 will have no problem taking the long way home on a mountain road if you so choose to.
Looks so good, the world almost stops to stare.
With competitors like the BMW 6-Series Coupe and Mercedes S-Class Coupe, it may seem like the LC 500 has some stiff competition. If you’ve ever seen the LC with your own eyes, the competition starts to look bland and somewhat boring. And boring is as far from the spectrum when it comes to the LC’s absolutely stunning good looks. At virtually any angle, the sleek and sexy lines will simply mesmerize you. With a long hood, short deck and wide stance, it’s a textbook example of a proper rear-wheel drive GT car. One of the LC’s best attributes is its ability to attract attention. Whether you’re driving through the city, pumping gas, or cruising down Pacific Coast Highway, there is 100% chance of someone looking eyes with luxury land yacht. You almost feel like a celebrity and quite liked that.
When you combine great aesthetics and comfort, you get the LC 500’s interior.
The exterior design of the LC is almost too good that one would be afraid that the interior might come up short. You’d be very wrong. Sure, the engine isn’t making 550+ horsepower and maybe you won’t get as much props as driving a 911, but if you’re still scratching your head over the close to 6-figure price tag, just take a seat inside. Lexus have always had great interiors, but my goodness is the LC 500’s interior design outdone itself.
Starting with the extremely comfortable leather seats with 1.2 million-way adjustability, driving from LA to San Diego was almost effortless. Not to mention that the seats cool you from head to your bottom – a very nice touch on a warm summer’s day. The steering wheel is the perfect diameter and thickly rimmed with just the right amount of buttons to make driving less distracting. The digital gauge cluster is LFA-like, easy to read and pretty neat to look at. The center infotainment screen is massive and fairly easy to use using the touch-pad on the center console. I wish the LC was equipped with the physical mouse instead as the touch-pad can be a bit too sensitive to scroll.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. The LC 500 is a home run for Lexus. We can’t help but think about an F version with more aero bits and a more powerful engine. What do you think about the LC 500? Let know on the forum!