The concept car is a manufacturer’s chance to showcase what they could make if budget and practicality were off the table. Of course, the majority of the time none of these cars ever come to fruition, with maybe some features or design cues potentially making their way into production models. Back in 2012 Lexus showcased the futuristic LF-LC, a unique hybrid of the traditional stylings of a muscle car and a sports coupe. Due to its positive reception, they took the concept and made it a reality with the Lexus LC 500. Having experienced the hybrid version last year, we couldn’t wait to get our hands on the beefier V8, and it didn’t disappoint.
There is something to be admired about how coherently the contrasting styles of the LC 500 are tied together. Its sculpted design gives you the impression that the body has been carved out of one piece of metal, with the LED lights and door handles all sitting flush to the body. The hood and rear are both wide like a muscle car, but the sleek cutaways on the side and overall low profile bring it back toward sports car territory. So too does the spindle grill on the front that is more reminiscent of what you’d find on an Aston Martin rather than a Lexus.
The LC 500’s bold design is bound to be divisive. You’ll either absolutely love it or not. We fall into the former category, but regardless of how you feel about its looks, the LC 500 is a head turner that demands attention wherever it goes.
The luxury interior surpasses what you’d traditionally expect from a Japanese manufacturer and is right up there with the best offerings from their contemporary European rivals. It certainly lives up to the car’s $192,000 AUD price tag. Two tones of tan upholstery, in leather and suede, cover nearly every surface of the cabin and are offset by matte chrome accents, handles and buttons. The driver’s seat has many points of adjustability, including excellent lumbar support. We noticed that the wings on the seats were quite snug, which was great for tight corners but unfortunately they couldn’t be altered. The driver and front seat passenger will have plenty of leg room, but unless your friends are happy to curl up into a ball for the whole journey, the back seats are better used as storage for your briefcase or gym bag.
Tucked away behind a stealthy black panel across the dash is the 10.3” infotainment system. It’s packed with a rich set of features such as satellite navigation, bluetooth for audio playback and calls, an app section with Yelp and Pandora, and data on the car’s components. Navigating to these options though, can be a frustrating experience with the system’s complicated set of menus. We’d been driving the LC 500 around for a week before we finally discovered where the option was to heat the seats; when we did, it was nice and toasty and we never wanted to turn it back off. Using a touchpad to navigate the menus isn’t as natural or precise as the more traditional click-wheel. Even though we use them every day on our laptops, we couldn’t quite get the hang of it in a car, which resulted in us spending more time fiddling with the settings rather than focusing on the road.
The LC 500 also features a custom Mark Levinson Reference Surround Sound System. It features 13 speakers throughout the cabin powered by a 915 watt amplifier. It gets ridiculously loud and you probably won’t ever be able to get the volume to full without giving yourself tinnitus. We put it through its paces with some of our favourite tracks, across a series of genres, even with the volume raised it didn’t distort and maintained separation across instruments. On Kendrick Lamar’s ‘HUMBLE‘, you could feel the air flying out of speakers on every bass kick and still hear the piercing highs of the symbols without them sounding shrill; On Queens of the Stone Age’s ‘Go With The Flow‘, the pounding drums didn’t drown out subtle nuisances of the piano and guitar; and on LCD Soundsystem’s ‘Dance Yrself Clean‘ the speakers maintained clarity between the clean and fuzzy synthesisers with no messy spill over from the reverb. It’s one of the best speaker systems we’ve heard in any car.
While we managed to resist the temptation to buy a pair of special driving gloves, the Lexus LC 500’s allure meant we readily made excuses to drive it anytime we got the chance. The mid-morning coffee run? No worries, we’ll just pop over to this new place we’ve heard about on the other side of town. It’s nearly impossible not to fall in love with when you first press the start button and feel the engine rev. Even at low speeds or idle, it rumbles along waiting to be unleashed. When you do get the chance to push the power, the LC 500 will accelerate through its 10-speed transmission with effortless efficiency due to its naturally aspirated V8 engine. There’s no jerky turbo lag here.
The LC 500 comes with five different driving modes built in: Eco, Normal, Comfort, Sport and Sports+. We spent the majority of our time in Sports mode, where the acceleration and transmission settings are recalibrated to their highest settings and the suspension is tightened up. Even driving around the city, it’s a thrill with instant acceleration that pushes you back into the set as you fly forward. Sport + removes all traction control, perfect for a weekend at the track but not for taking the tight corners through the city with the heavy car having a bit of body roll. When driving around the road-works near our office, Comfort mode dampens the suspension and does an excellent job of absorbing the road’s bumps. Each mode feels slightly different from another but none detract from the driving experience.
Although the safety features of the Lexus LC 500 aren’t as plentiful as some of the other luxury cars we’ve tested, it’s not completely void of them either. The cruise control feature uses radars to employ brake assistance when it detects a decrease in distance between you and other vehicles. These radars are also used for collision detection, which allows the vehicle complete control of the brakes if you don’t have time to react to a sudden movement ahead. This is capped off by the lane departure system, that warns you with a series of beeps if you begin to veer outside and once activated, begins to bring you back to your lane and keeps the vehicle central. This all happens behind the scenes and doesn’t affect the LC 500’s driving experience.
Lexus LC 500 Review | The Wrap Up
The Lexus LC 500 is an absolute thrill to drive. The luxury interior is stunning, and its daring looks will turn heads wherever you take it. Other than the incredible amount of fun we had driving it, the most lasting impression it left on us was the fact that there’s now a Japanese-made luxury vehicle that won’t look out of place amongst its European counterparts.