The 2017 LC 500 shows where Lexus is headed. In this case it's not just a flashy grille and a big engine like earlier Lexus efforts. This time every facet of the engineering went into making the car handle better, and the styling and engineering were developed hand in hand. It won't set any sales records, but it will win a lot of eyeballs.
Why is Lexus making another coupe? That's a fair question, as slow-selling two doors don't do much to improve market share. The reason for the LC is to make a statement, both in terms of style and engineering. It looks remarkably close to the 2012 LF-LC concept. And underpinning the taut styling is a new global architecture that will underpin future cars like the LS.
The LC 500 is Toyota's way of saying, yet again, that it's serious about reforming the Lexus reputation into one that include performance and style. On paper the 467-horsepower, 5.0-liter V8 (the same as in the RC F and GS F) performance claim looks like sloppy handwriting, but Lexus claims a 0-60 time of less than 4.5 seconds. Rumors abound that more power will come to the LC lineup in a few years, most likely in some kind of turbocharged form. Backing up the engine is a ten-speed transmission. Yes, ten. Lexus claims the gearbox is nearly as fast as a dual-clutch automatic, and that the overall size is smaller than some eight speed 'boxes.
Underpinning the LC is an all new structure that includes carbon fiber reinforced plastic, aluminum, and high-strength steel. Torsional rigidity is said to be better than the all-carbon fiber LF A supercar. We're worried the ride could be on the stiff side, with run flat tires on both standard 20-inch wheel and the optional 21-inch wheels seen on the show car. All hope for retaining a pleasant ride lies with the suspension, which is nearly all aluminum. But as we mentioned, this car is skewed towards performance, and Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires on show car promised new levels of lateral grip for a big Lexus. What's more promising is the claim that Lexus spend triple the standard time developing the steering feel and handling.
This could be the best-handling Lexus ever, but don't expect the LC 500 to be a Porsche 911 competitor. Preconceptions aside, the LC is bigger than a Carrera and that alone dictates a different character. The Lexus is closer to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe and BMW 6 Series in size. At 187.4 inches long, it's about 10 inches shorter than the Benz. Like those two Germans the LC seats four, but you still probably don't want to sit in the back. Front seat passengers get to look at a digital dashboard with center tachometer, and a wide horizontal dashboard styling that evolves the current interior design theme.
On the technology front, the 2017 LC 500 comes with an optional package that includes all the driver-assistance goodies the company offers. That includes all-speed dynamic cruise control, lane-keeping assist, collision mitigation, and automatic high-beams. Also optional is a carbon-fiber roof, replacing the standard panoramic glass.
For Lexus, this car is more than simple sales numbers. It's a halo car, meant to show where the brand is going. Based on the concept car exterior and the gorgeous cabin, we're excited to watch the journey Lexus is taking.