SEATTLE — I get it. The question is, do you – the consumer – get it? I’m referring to the Lexus LC500 which is often mistakenly referred to as a sports car or even a sports coupe’. This is the second time we’ve had an LC500 at CDN and I can tell you with full enthusiasm that what the LC500 is a glorious grand touring car. While it definitely has distinctive Japanese design cues, the most impressive feature about this car – from a driving enthusiast perspective – is its naturally aspirated V8 engine that redlines at 7100 rpm.
Under the hood:
With most of today’s V8 engines getting their boost from either turbo or superchargers, there is still nothing quite like a high-powered engine without those boosting methods. The sound that the Lexus engineers were able to coax from its exhaust system gives you a harmonious balance of a tiger wanting to rip your guts out with the sensibilities of a more civilized creature like a house cat, purring.
With 471 horsepower on tap, along with 398 lb-ft of torque, you’ll love the way this 5.0-liter engine revs; all the way to redline. It’s very responsive, especially while driving the car in Sports+ (plus) mode. Gears are handled by an ultra-quick shifting 10-speed automatic transmission that has augmented by magnesium paddle shifters. From a practical perspective, it’s really a six-speed transmission as the last four gears are essentially overdrive gears.
Road grip is here in spades as well, thanks to the stock 245/30 and 275/30 tires that rest on gorgeous 21-inch wheels. Good luck getting these things to break free around corners. Braking is insanely great as well, stopping the car extremely well with no signs of brake fade — even after hours of hard driving.
What is easily the best handiwork we’ve seen out of Lexus awaits you inside. The quality of details, materials and sense of “oh I want to be in there” cannot be overstated. Soft to the touch, leather aromas inviting you in. Lap of luxury.
From the soft leather on the door panels to the carbon fiber inlay above the glove box to the stitched leather upholstery throughout. Few cars wrap you in and make you feel more invited than what you’ll find in the LC500.
The only miscue is the infotainment system which relies on the now-tired glide-mouse controller. Mixed with a system that guesses which icon you’re moving the cursor to and highlights it – it’s just clumsy. This has been an issue with Lexus for many years now. However, in fairness, if you spend more time using it, you will get better at it. Unfortunately, there are other auto-makers out there, in this league, that do a better job. Let’s hope Lexus catches up soon.
Having said that, the audio quality is second to none. The Mark Levinson-powered system delivers a breathtaking performance that is quite simply the best I’ve heard in any new car, at any price. Bass response will move you, the mids and high frequencies are so smooth and accurate. Turn on the surround-mode and get ready to experience a “live performance”. It’s that good.
On the road:
On the road, you’ll feel like a boss. Ample power, head-turning looks that scream “super car” and enough comfort inside that you’ll want to never stop driving. While I realize this may seem awfully loaded with hyperbole, it’s not too often that we have a car as engaging, fun to drive and comfortable. Sure, there are muscle cars, even sports cars in this price bracket but that’s a different animal.
So what has changed since the 2018 model? Here’s a quick run-down:
- Modified rear engine mounts
- Reprogrammed shift logic for 10-speed automatic transmission
- Range of Adaptive Variable Suspension expanded for improved ride comfort
- Updated brake control for improved brake feel
- Improved steering feel through modification of intermediate damper, retuned electric power steering, revised VGRS and change to aluminum steering support bracket
You can really feel these improvements when driving the car more aggressively. As mentioned, the brakes feel incredible, the transmission shifts nearly rival that of the best dual-clutch out there and the overall handling is completely on-point. Flat corners with enough give in the suspension to make one not feel beat-up.
It’s quite easy to opine about the LC500 as it has a laundry-list of admirable things to enjoy about it. Hopefully more consumers will appreciate this car as a very special one and test drive one soon. While it doesn’t have the most horsepower out there, it has more than enough and when combined with the styling, braking, comfort and handling, you have the makings for a great grand touring car. And that’s exactly what Lexus has done an exceptional job of delivering.