The V8 LC500 is a big 2+2 coupe made for the open road

What is it?

A real head turner.

The Lexus LC500 has presence, and plenty of it, in the same way that a Ferrari does.

People stop and look and and ask about the car. They want to know how much it costs, what it’s got under the bonnet and of course what it’s like to drive?.

With its movie star looks the LC500 is the kind of car that people want to have their picture taken with. At least my mate Bob did.

He’s been a bit crook lately, but a quick spin along one of our favourite stretches of winding road put a smile back on his dial — Bob was rapt.

The lights are all LEDs

What’s it cost?

At a shade under $190,000 the big V8-powered 2+2 coupe is not the most expensive car in the luxury car makers’s arsenal, but it’s the best one we’ve driven to date — not counting the $1 million LFA supercar that we drove at Fuji Speedway in Japan (but that’s another story).

For $371 more, you can have the LC500h with a V6 hybrid powertrain, but for our money the smooth, sweet sounding 5.0-litre V8 is the way to go — make that the only way.

Materials and techniques were drawn from the LFA for its construction, including the use of ultra-high-tensile steels, aluminium and carbon fibre reinforced plastic.

The lights are all LEDs, flush door handles pop out when you hit the button, there’s a colour head-up display, and adaptive variable multi-link front and rear sports suspension with massive 21-inch forged alloys and Michelins with liquorice strip 275s on the back.

The dash is dominated by a single instrument dial with an 8.0-inch multi-information display, with 12-way power adjust heated and ventilated front seats, sports pedals, magnesium paddle shifters, six drive modes, and stainless steel scuff plates as standard.

The latest audio and multimedia system features a 10.3-inch display, enhanced voice recognition, satellite navigation with SUNA traffic updates, Lexus Enform connected mobility and, with compatible smartphones — Siri Eyes Free and Miracast.

Icing on the cake is a bespoke 918-watt Mark Levinson sound system with 13 speakers, a real benchmark in this segment of the market, with noise cancelling technology thrown in for good measure.

Ironically, however, we and probably the majority of drivers will be more interested in listening to the sweet sounds of the V8 under full throttle.

Lexus Safety System+ includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collison Safety System, Lane Keep Assist, Sway Warning and Automatic High Beam, plus a Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, reversing camera, eight airbags and tyre-pressure monitor.

The one caveat: auto emergency braking works only up to a speed of 40km/h.

If you want the ‘Full Monty’ there’s a $15,000 enhancement pack that adds Dynamic Handling with four-wheel steering and variable gear ratio steering.

It also includes an active rear spoiler that rises at 80km/h, as well as a carbon-fibre roof in place of the glass roof, combination leather-accented and Alcantara upholstery, 10-way power-adjustable sports front seats and carbon-fibre scuff plates.

The interior is finished to a high standard

What’s it go like?

Impressive. No other word for it.

The high-revving V8 delivers 351kW of power and 540Nm of torque to the rear wheels through a close ratio, 10-speed direct shift auto, with a redline of 7100 revs.

It’s a development of the V8 that powers the RC F and GS F models, both exciting cars to drive in their own right, with a  0-100km/h figure of 4.7 seconds.

You can argue the toss about whether it needs more power, but the 351kW feels more than adequate when you’re behind the wheel, especially playing tag team with the 10-speed auto.

It’s an exciting car to drive, as we powered from corner to corner, sport mode selected and the V8 in full vent.

The noise echoed off the cliff walls of our mountainous drive route, as we snapped gears with the wheel mounted paddles, the transmission automatically blipping the throttle on downshifts.

Reading between the lines, however, the sound of the V8 has been artificially enhanced (no complaints here).

Getting into gear can be fiddly until you get used to the gearbox, as well as alternating between auto and manual mode.

Longer, lower and wider than the RC F that we drove around the Mount Panorama circuit, the LC hugs the road, with a real planted feel, the big sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sports providing plenty of grip.

Some serious stoppers permit the car to brake deep in to corners, with 338mm discs front and 308mm discs rear, and a limited slip rear diff standard.

But, more than a corner cruncher, it’s a car built in the GT tradition, a grand tourer, designed for sweeping, long distance performance, preferably at a rate of knots.

Of course a car like this likes a drink and fuel consumption will vary depending how you drive it.

Rated at 11.6L/100km, we were getting 15.4 from the 82-litre tank after more than 400km — some of them, well a lot of them quite spirited (and it takes 98).

The tyres are run flats dispensing with the need for a spare tyre.

Not much room for passengers back here (those with legs anyway)

What we like?

  • Love the edgy looks
  • Love the way it goes
  • Love the sound of the V8 (even if it is enhanced)
A single display conveys all the required info

What we don’t like?

  • Can’t afford one
  • Fiddly gear selector
  • That silly track pad
  • Tiny boot even without a spare
  • Double amputee back seat
Big thumbs down for the silly trackpad

The bottom line?

The LC is a stunner. Anyone who says otherwise doesn’t know what they’re talking about. It’s only when you start looking at what else the money will buy that doubts start to creep in.

Remember to pack light

CHECKOUT: It’s just a jump to the F

CHECKOUT: V8-powered Lexus GS F makes all the right noises

 

Lexus LC500, priced from $189,629
  • 8.5/10
    Looks - 8.5/10
  • 8/10
    Performance - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Safety - 8/10
  • 6.5/10
    Thirst - 6.5/10
  • 6/10
    Practicality - 6/10
  • 7.5/10
    Comfort - 7.5/10
  • 8/10
    Tech - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Value - 8/10
7.6/10

Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.