22 January 2018

Lexus LC500 2018 car review

Cast one look at the Lexus LC500 and you can tell that the brand’s old rep for terminally boring design has hit the bin. And it needed to, especially for this car, which is pitched against the likes of Jaguar’s F-Type, the Maserati Gran Turismo and Mercedes’ S-class coupe.

LC 500 1
Lexus LC500
LC500 2
Lexus LC500
LC500 3
Lexus LC500
LC500 4
Lexus LC500
LC500 5
Lexus LC500

That makes this a GT, a grand tourer rather than a pure sports car, a vehicle designed to take rich people across continents in comfort, yet able to deliver a high-performance sporty feel when required.

It certainly looks the part. Its concept-car lines and details turn heads, and they stay turned once you start that engine, for there’s distinctive promise of hoodlum undertones to its idle, more so if you select a sporty setting once under way. For the 10-speed transmission will blip the throttle for you on downchanges and sounds like a hooligan if you mash the accelerator pedal, while just as capable of purring like a happy lion under cruise thanks to this engaging 5.0-litre naturally aspirated V8. The aim is to deliver both performance and relative efficiency, which means you can cruise at 100kph fairly frugally.

As for the goodies, the neatly stitched, leather-lined cabin looks and feels smart, the front seats are spacious, adjustable, supportive and comfy, the set-up’s efficient ergonomics are impressive and as for features, the car is packed with them. Almost too packed – your choices are all reached via a handy touch pad accessing options via the large, high-mounted screen, but a few steps are needed for some functions where a quick button would suffice. Seat heating, for example, though that said, also being able to waft cool air through the seatback and base on a hot day is fabulous.

That seatback is designed to resemble samurai armour, but no samurai would fit in those rear seats, though the armour might pile into the surprisingly roomy boot (the car uses runflat tyres and has no spare), with its effective non-slip mat. Yes, Lexus hasn’t forgotten the practical bits. Even reversing this low-slung coupe is easy thanks to the cameras, sensors, and even rear cross traffic alert.

And now we return to the fruity stuff. You can choose eco, comfort, normal, sport or sport-plus settings which adjusts the likes of gearing, and suspension, and do make a noticeable difference in terms of how hard the ride is, how guttural the engine note, and what you see on the instruments – for the central round bezel slides here or there to show different information depending on what you’re doing.

I generally stuck to ‘normal’, which was comfy enough for most surfaces and delivered a reasonable compromise between easy round-town puttering and brisk open-road performance.
Choose ‘sport’ instead and the car makes a decent fist of feeling like a high performance sports car, thanks in part to its nearly even front-rear weight balance, though that feeling ebbs on the really tight stuff thanks to the compromises made to ensure this car is as good round town or cruising as it is anywhere else.

Sport Plus? Accessing the best of that isn’t possible at legal speeds. But stick to one turn down on the dial and what you do still access is that feral soundtrack as the auto changes down a handful of gears at a time, blipping the throttle to release a V8 bark that quickly builds to a blood-stirring roar under acceleration — and elicits double the grin because it’s coming from a car which feels so tractable when you’re just doing the commute.

This is a soundtrack, and a feel, which allied with the modern look, delivers a car entirely unlike anything that fits the Lexus mould of just a handful of years ago. But it might take a while for the message to get through, for this vehicle will never sell in big numbers.

Whether you choose this V8 or a hybrid V6, the price starts out at $215,000. Yes, that accesses a lot of car, not to mention the superb Lexus customer support, but with just 16 sold since it launched in July 2017 – about a third of them hybrids – don’t expect to see one at a car park near you any time soon. 

At a glance


LC500, LC500h available


5.0-litre naturally aspirated V8


From $215,000 (glass roof), $220,000 (carbon roof)

ANCAP safety rating

Not yet tested


351kW at 7100rpm/540Nm at 4800rpm


10-speed automatic

Fuel economy

11.6L / 100km

Towing capacity



Rear drive, Torsen LSD

Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload

197 litres

Safety systems


Lane departure & keep assist (active)

EBD & Brake Assist

Blind spot monitor / Rear cross traffic alert

Pre-crash safety system

Parking camera & sensors

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