A couple of years ago, a Lexus executive told me that customers were beginning to ask for more style, a bit more pizzazz.
Toyota president Akio Toyoda took that thought even further, letting the word go out to his Toyota and Lexus fiefdoms that the company’s cars shouldn’t be just reliable, comfortable ways to get from Point A to Point B. They should also be something that one could get excited about and aspire to. His decree emphasized the need to manage boredom from the Lexus label.
One way to do that is with a gorgeous GT, like the LC 500, Lexus’ fresh prince of grand touring.
This new addition to the Lexus line is a quintessential grand touring car, right down to its long hood/short deck proportions. As a true GT, it provides ample performance, but with an emphasis on comfort and luxury. The idea is to build a car that will run all day at high speeds and leave you at eventide feeling as if you’ve had a treat instead of a treatment. The LC 500 checks all of those GT boxes.
With a starting price nudging six digits, not too many folks will be experiencing the LC 500 treat. Lexus expects 2018 U.S. sales to come in around 4,800. Of those, about 3,800 will be the gas V-8 model I spent a week with (base price $92,000). The rest would be the hybrid variant, which tacks $4,500 on the tag.
For openers the LC 500 is, by virtue of its proportions and sculpture, one gorgeous coupe. My lone aesthetic quarrel with it is its signature Lexus grille. I don’t like that large, wasp-waisted presence, but, then, many people apparently do.
The body design is as kinetic as it is comely. The LC 500 looks as though it’s surging past another car at Le Mans even when it’s resting at the curb.
The lovely exterior is a tough act to follow, but the interior manages. The one in the test car was an imaginative, original design that blew me away.
The seats were very well-bolstered. Broad-beamed drivers may not be as happy with them, but I liked the way I was kept in my place during ambitious cornering.
Things get a bit cramped in this four-seat coupe aft of the front buckets, especially in the headroom department. Trunk space is a decidedly uncharitable 5.4 cubic feet.
Driving the LC 500 proves delightful on every front. It is, first of all, quite fast. Zero to sixty is accomplished in under 5 seconds. That kind of rapid transit is possible even though the LC 500 is a bit on the portly side. (Despite the use of aluminum in the hood, door skins, front fenders, and front suspension and shock towers the car weights in at 4,300 pounds.)
That weight is combated by the 471 horsepower engendered by its big-bicep 5-liter V-8, which sends its good tidings to the rear wheels via a slick 10-speed automatic. (This engine employs an unusual engineering wrinkle in which it utilizes both direct and port injection to maximize performance.)
Handling is also a performance plus. The car is a joy when the way gets wiggly; it stays poised and flat in fast turns.
Despite its athletic suspension tuning, the LC 500 turns out to be a smooth and quiet cruiser. Exercising the right foot sufficiently elicits a V-8 engine note that is delightful rather than intrusive.
The steering is surprisingly communicative. Who would expect an honest-to-goodness road feel in this age of assisted steering? The braking system, starring 15.7-inch front discs pinched by six piston calipers, shut things down as quickly as you can say: 60 to zero in 114 feet.
2018 Lexus LC 500
Base price: $92,000
As tested: $105,375
Standard equipment: 5-liter engine, 10-speed automatic gear box, rear drive and a litany of safety electronics and hedonism ranging from radar cruise control and lane departure alert to heated, ventilated, leather-trimmed, 10-way power front seats
Options: Include 21-inch alloy wheels ($2,650), a performance package ($5,960) that includes rear steering and active rear spoiler, and a 915-watt Mark Levinson sound system ($1,220)
Fuel economy: 16 MPG city, 26 highway (premium gas)
Engine performance: Quite spirited
Ride quality: Good
Warranty: 4 years, 50,000 miles, bumper-to-bumper
4 Bens: Excellent