The 2018 Lexus LC 500 flagship performance coupe is a near perfect production version of the bold Lexus LF-LC concept car revealed – garnering wide acclaim – at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show. The LC 500 is the first generation of new front engine/rear wheel drive Lexus models to be built on the new Lexus Global Architecture – Luxury (GA-L). This platform features a lowered center of gravity, superior aerodynamics and high-speed stability matched with high-performance powertrains.
Arriving in 2017, Lexus has delivered not one, but two high-performance powertrain versions of their new flagship 2+2 performance coupes – the 2018 Lexus LC 500 V8 and LC 500h Multi-Stage Hybrid – for the driving enthusiast.
Together they represent a near perfectly refined collaboration of design, craftsmanship and passionate performance engineering that delivers a stunning look with advanced features and functionality coupled with a drive excitement – the best that Lexus has ever done.
Our not so subtle assessment is derived from actual drive experience behind the wheel of both, the LC 500h Hybrid for a day on the track at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) last spring and most recently a full week of driving the LC 500 V8 as if we owned it (wish we did) in and around Austin, Texas.
Lexus LC 500 V8
Over the holidays, Lexus delivered us a LC 500 V8 for a week-long ride and drive. Appropriate to the season, it came in the optional sophisticated premium Infrared color with Black luxury interior and priced at a base MSRP $92,000.
We are going to tell you that the styling – inside and out – of the LC 500 will knock your socks off as it did us – and to trust us on that. But if you need some confirmation, then look to its recognition with the Eyes on Design Award for Design Excellence in 2016 and most recently named to the Wards 10 Best Interiors list for 2017. The Wards evaluators noted it set a new Lexus benchmark for styling in form, function and convenience, beauty in the utilization of high-quality materials and craftsmanship in the hand-finishes throughout.
As the flagship luxury coupe for Lexus, the LC 500 drive performance is everything and it delivers.
The 5.0L naturally aspirated DOHC 32-valve, Dual VVT-I, Direct Electronic Injection V8 engine, with roots in the GS and RF performance line, is performance tuned to produce 471 horsepower with 389 lb.-ft. of torque in the LC 500. Managing the performance is a new and lightning fast 10-speed Sport Direct Shift automatic transmission with driver selectable-manual mode and magnesium paddle shifters (for those so inclined to amp it up a bit further).
Equipped with the optional Torsen Limited Slip Differential and using the Drive Mode Select feature, the driver can adjust vehicle performance capability to just meet conditions or to challenge the road or track as desired. We recommend SPORT for what we call spirited everyday driving and – when ready to go for the gusto – take the LC 500 into SPORT S+.
With a unitized high strength steel body, steel front and rear subframes and aluminum members, the slightly heavy 4,280-pound LC 500 V8 coupe sprints easily 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds and tops out at 168 mph (electronically limited).
Its tight yet responsive Adaptive Variable Suspension of the LC 500 is Multi-link both front and rear and has speed-sensing coaxial rack and pinion Electric Power Steering that with standard 20-inch wheels, keeps it well-planted in all situations. Of note was the small diameter 3-spoke steering wheel that enhanced the handling from the driver-focus designed cockpit.
Efficient braking is delivered by four-wheel power assisted ABS brakes with Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Brake Assist. Sporting high-friction brake pads, the front brakes are 15.7-inch ventilated rotors with six-piston opposed calibers and rear 14.1-inch with four-piston calipers.
The LC 500 ably manages stability and control through the Lexus Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system that coordinates Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Power Steering and Braking.
No matter how fast or hard we drove the LC 500, we were always confident we were comfortably in control.
If it looks great and runs even better, it needs to sound the part and the LC 500 does. Equipped with an Active Exhaust system, the driver can adjust the refined performance roar of the fast-revving V8 through the Drive Mode Selector system.
Other features of note
We would make note of the LED exterior lighting front and rear (especially the LED Cornering Lamps), the puddle lamps, logo illumination on the pop-out door handles and direct spray windshield wipers that made night and inclement weather driving easy.
Called a 2+2 coupe, the LC 500 is functionally just a two-seater but with exceptionally comfortable and supportive seats, excellent sight lines and ready access to information, convenience and control functions – all the things a driving enthusiast wants or needs – the rear seats are a non-issue.
Infotainment technology is abundant including a color 10.3-inch TFT multi-informational display, available Head-Up color display, full package of Enform systems and apps and an advanced Remote Touch Interface pad that allows tapping and flicking for quick access to information and function controls.
Packages and Options
Our test LC 500 was fully loaded up for performance with including upgraded 21-inch Forged Aluminum Wheels mounted with 245/40RF21 front and R25/35R21 rear Performance Tires, Torsen Limited Slip Differential, Color Heads-Up Display, Carbon Fiber Roof, Heated and Ventilated 8-way Power Alcantara Sport Front Seats, Mark Levinson Premium Surround Audio System with 13-Speakers and 915-watt amplifier, Intuitive Park Assist (IPA), Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert and the sophisticated Infrared exterior color and more.
With delivery, our test 2018 Lexus LC 500 priced – in the garage – at $102,890.
LC 500h Hybrid
Now that we have driven the V8, we confidently share with you that the hybrid version of the LC 500 is no second fiddle to the gasoline version.
Early in 2017, Lexus brought the LC 500h to the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) F1 track in Austin to compete in the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) spring automotive roundup. On arrival it was the eye stopper of the event and – on the track – was the show stopper, easily running off with the 2017 TAWA Performance Coupe honor as judged by the automotive media attending.
With all of the same performance engineering of the V8, the new Multi-Stage Hybrid powertrain of the LC 500h delivers nearly every bit the dynamic performance of the LC 500 gasoline version. In fact, it was so good that many drivers had to step back to check for the badging to confirm it was the hybrid.
Weighing in at just 155 pounds more than the V8 due to the lithium-ion battery pack, its 354 horsepower (net) hybrid powertrain does 0-60 mph in just 4.7 seconds and tops out at 150 mph (electronically limited) – and easily handled the challenges of – what many say is – the premier road track North America.
The hybrid costs a tad more than the V8 at MSRP $96,510. Equipped the same as the V8, its fuel economy stands out – rated at 26/35 mpg city/highway and 30 mpg combined, more than 11 mpg better (combined) than the V8. For those who value that metric – and are already planning to spend in the range of $100K for a top performance coupe, the LC 500h is a very attractive alternative to the V8.