Lexus LC 500 Coupe
A powerful yet refined grand tourer
THIS IS NOT MY MOTHER’S LEXUS. REALLY. HERS WAS AN LS 400, purchased around 1990, and it lived up to the LS designation as a luxury sedan. The younger man I was then was not thrilled with the super- insulated ride, as I wanted road feel. But even then, I had to admit that it was quiet and comfortable.
Flash forward over three decades later and the Lexus of today has a surfeit of models and a panoply of vehicle designations denoting a brand that has something for everyone: case in point, the LC 500 (Luxury Coupe with 500 cubic centimeters of displacement-which has a pretty direct correlation to power.) In this case, 471 horsepower comes from a naturally- aspirated (no turbo or supercharger) muscular V8. The sporty ones among us will enjoy the throaty roar of the exhaust on full throttle, and the almost sprightly feel of the car’s response to acceleration and braking. Those who prefer a more sedate ride will appreciate that this car is an Lexus L (luxury) with leather-trimmed power seats and a transmission so slick it’s hard to discern any shifting going on. (Note: it has eight speeds, but good luck trying to count them while underway.)
Creating the LC500 must be something like creating holy water-you boil the hell out of it—as all of the vestiges of sports car ride and feel have been tamed, smoothed, and luxuriated into submission. That’s not to say that the LC500 isn’t a performer, as it can hang with the others at the “Stop Light Grand Prix.” With a 0-60 miles per hour (mph) time of 4.4 seconds and a top speed of 168 mph (stats provided by Lexus), it’s a respectable athlete. But Lexus has never been known as a manufacturer that focuses on such statistics alone, as they’ve always blended the ability of the car with the comfort, convenience, and ease of driving, all of which, to many of us, add up to a great grand tourer (GT) instead of a car that excels in one or two speed metrics.
“My” Lexus (for a week) was in the cadmium orange colorway which, I admit, was not love at first sight. It did grow on me, though, as did my appreciation for what Lexus brought to the GT table. I grew to appreciate the sound and the relative fury for what they were, and actually enjoyed the ergonomically designed, cooled, and heated seats. On top of the base price of $93,050, the build sheet showed a relatively modest $7,790 in options, which resulted in a sticker price of $102,545. (I have seen some as-tested LC500s priced above $120,000.) However, mine did not seem meager in any sense, partly because the options did include the $5,000 Sport Package, with 21-inch wheels, Alcantara seat inserts, and the $1,220 Mark Levinson 13-speaker sound system.
Though my week with the LC500 was not replete with canyon carving or test track driving, I enjoyed my time with the car. When I wanted to merge on to the 405 with alacrity (which one can do only if driving between 2:30 and 3:00 a.m.), the abundance of power was quite welcome. When I had a longer drive, especially in traffic, the insulated nature of the Lexus was a welcome respite from the day. All in all, I enjoyed the LC for all that it offered and also for what it didn’t.