Tapering to a sporty pout around the hood and spacing out progressively, this Lexus looks fast. But the two letters that manufacturers adorn fast cars with are nowhere to be seen. Instead Lexus has defined this with an LC badge – Luxury Coupe. Still, it looks like one you can have fun driving up the Jebel Jais. And oh, there is a suffix too – ‘h’. So this is certainly riding to the future.
The Dimensions: 4760 mm long, 2016 kg, Boot space: 153 L
The powertrain: 3.5-liter, 24-valve Atkinson-cycle V6, dual electric motors and a lightweight lithium-ion battery mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission in series with an electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission, Rear Wheel Drive
The performance: 354 hp (including 59 hp from electric) and 500 Nm torque, Top speed: 250 kmph, 0 – 100 in <5.0 sec, Test Fuel efficiency: Approx. 650 km with an 82 L tank or 7.9 km/L, Turning Radius: 10.6 m, Co-efficient of Drag .33
Driver Assistance: Dynamic Radar Cruise Control with automatic braking, Blind Spot Assistance
My test car starts off by ticking two boxes. The Lexus LC 500h is curvy like an hourglass and it is yellow. The Segway-style stance of the spaced out rear suggests aerodynamic competence – the car has a Cd of .33. The long, lurching lead reminds you of British race cars: a Lotus or even an Aston Martin.
The Lexan grille was flared up and billowing the last time I saw it in its sporty state but evolution has helped Lexus look more tempered. The narrow lamps that drop-off like icicles look rather contemporary but there is an overall classic feel to the LC as opposed to the Lexus F line up. The lamps look like they are magnesium like the paddle shifters – they aren’t. But they are so thin without the usual bulky hang-backs that the LC designers could push the wheels further in front. The 21” alloy wheels over the run flat tyres are strikingly sculpted.
Cabin and Controls
Inside the suede-dominated cabin, there is not a speck of real estate that can be termed cheap. Instead, the shelves formed on the dashboard impress by their thoughtfulness in keeping the 10.3-inch screen from daylight glare. Incidentally, the navigation graphics are comic-book-cool, while the rear view camera too offers wide and clear images even in the night.
The touch pad on the tunnel console has evolved – every premium brand has their telematics in transition – and it is a part of the LC’s modern statement. There are points on the screen that are still elusive using the touch pad, but it is much better than the ‘mouse mount’ that used to be the interface not long ago. Unlike some Germans, Lexus doesn’t offer an alternative dial or knob to easily step in for the touch pad controls.
The Lexus LC 500h doesn’t have to be the one of the most engaging drives in the premium segment or one with a communicative steering – given the slide-on-ice steering style of most luxury marques. But it is. So much so that Lexus has the guts to call the LC 500 their most responsive vehicle yet. Alright, the 5.0 L V8 version has 471 horses pulling this claim but the hybrid too spins 500 Nm of torque. Not bad at all.
Now I wonder what is more ironic – having an ECO mode in this hybrid coupe or a Sport mode? Well, it all begins to add up when I realize that even after almost 600 km of testing in various modes, there is some dino juice left. And honestly, the sport modes didn’t make any remarkable difference to the miles covered. So, the 59 hp electric motor is working just fine getting charged and driving the car whenever the speed permits. And if you thought that is only when the car is crawling, you are far from correct. You’ll know why at the end of the next paragraph.
The transmission arrangement in this car is termed a ‘multistage hybrid’. The Lexus LC 500h has an internal combustion engine and two electric motors. The first one starts the ICE and the second one harvests braking energy. The gear complex is a CVT mated to a four-speed planetary gear system. This four-speed system provides the reduction that keeps the electric motor revving below its redline – in turn allowing it to stay on electric mode for longer. As for driving pleasure, in the new M mode, this complicated compounding mimics a 10-speed automatic gearbox while on normal driving it works more like the CVT that it is. The transmission keeps the rev steady and climbing for long enough when you ask for it but settles down quickly to calmness on other times. If may add to its sporty nature that the CVT drone was missing and the geared dip was rather obvious!
There is a comfort mode and a Sport + mode other than the Eco and Sport and you can access them by turning the tip of the stalk to the right of your wheel. There is another to your left, for traction control. Together, they peek out like Yoda’s ears.
The comfort mode is long-drive friendly on highways but overall the car doesn’t take kindly on rough roads, even on the 21” run flat tyres that had replaced the regular 20-inch fellas on my car. May be it’s the wraparound bucket seats but there was hardly any body roll in the LC 500h!
The Lexus LC 500h isn’t a silent car – there is wind and road noise. But rising above it is the waveform cry of yearning inspired by the LFA and amplified through a channel.
Well, the good news is that it is possible. The bad news is, it lasts only till the children reach their teens unless they are willing to be lie across the rear seat. Like children, the golf bag too needn’t be left behind. As shallow as expected, but the stowaway boot space is there for sure.
The seats recline rather nicely; so even on long drives, an unlikely admirer of sports cars would hold on happily – and there is going to be ‘relieved sighs’ or ‘overjoyed squeals’ when they find out they don’t really need to squeeze in or get stuck on their way out of this ‘sports car’!
The essential Lexus LC 500h
The RC-F is a pack of hounds on a wild goose chase – which is kinda fun! The Lexus LC 500h is one well-trained retriever meticulously pursuing the goose you’ve marked. The steering feels quite unlike most Japanese and many Germans. ‘The steering feels’ is the point. The LC 500h is a harbinger of the hybrid future – and an emphatic reminder that it is a place that deserves to be eagerly awaited.