Home / Home / Lexus LC 500h Test Review – Set Hybrids to ‘Stun’

 

“Hybrid” has always been associated with greener and more efficient cars, however, the Lexus LC 500h is a hybrid grand-tourer that breaks the chain with a performance-focused 359-hp driveline.

Lexus LC 500h static

Absolutely stunning! That’s the first thing that comes to mind as I behold the Lexus LC 500h standing before me. It’s retained the styling of the outlandish LF-LC Concept shown in 2012 when it made production six years later and, dare I say, it looks outlandishly futuristic even today. It was introduced as a “500” and a “500 h”. The former has a 477-hp 5.0-litre naturally aspirated V8 petrol engine—which isn’t offered here—while the latter is a V6 petrol-electric hybrid with a plentiful 359 hp and almost the same peak torque as the big V8. Much to look forward to, then.

Lexus LC 500h front

The LC, or “Luxury Coupé”, is built on the GA–L (Global Architecture–Luxury) platform. This also underpins the exceptional LS luxury saloon we tested some time ago. The appearance from the design, the attention to detail, the use of unique material to create an ethereal effect, and the driving feel and dynamics to back them up are characteristic Lexus traits. Another little detail, the LC is built at the Motomachi plant—the same facility that built the legendary LFA supercar—and by many of the same “Takumi” master craftspeople who built the LFA and continue to work on the LC in various areas, from carbon-fibre components, leather, and paint.

Lexus LC 500h action

This two-door hard-top coupé screams exclusive from any and every angle anyone may look at it. The striking design and lines, sharp and edgy elements such as the “Spindle” grille, headlights, and tail-lights, plus the low, wedged stance with the centre tightened in like a corset makes the rear appear wider and all business. It is, to some extent, with the rear track measuring 1,635 millimetres to the 1,630 mm at the front. The wheels, too, look exquisite, being the optional 21-inch forged rims with mixed 245/40 and 275/35 ZR21 run-flat rubber. There’s no spare wheel. The RWD sports coupé talks the talk, but does it walk the walk as well?

The “Multi-stage Hybrid” powertrain in the Lexus LC 500h is a potent combination of 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine and a 132-kW electric motor, backed by a 1.1-kWh battery pack. The engine produces 299 hp at 6,600 rpm with a peak torque of between 348 and 350 Nm coming in at between 4,900 and 5,100 rpm. The electric motor is good for 180 hp and 300 Nm. However, as with hybrids, peak output is rarely, if ever, reached and the maximum system output stands at 359 hp and 500 Nm. The transmission is the master stroke here. Like the LS, it pairs a four-speed automatic with a continuously variable transmission (CVT)—akin to a bicycle with four sprockets at the front but with cone cogs at the rear—making for a pre-set 10 ratios for a 10-speed feel, especially when the paddle-shifters are factored in. And it powers just the rear wheels.

Lexus LC 500h engine

As I slip the key card into my pocket and flick the door-handle, the cabin seems expansive with a sea of tan leather, suede, liners, and aluminium trim accents—until I glance at the back. The two rear seats afford little to no leg-room with the front seat back in contact with the rear seat base for the most part, but that isn’t what this Rekasasu is about.

Lexus LC 500h interior

Settle in and the seat offers exceptional support. The dashboard comes to life with a warp mode like animation. The two knobs, one on either side of the driver info-display for drive mode and traction control, allow easy access to the fine-tuning on offer. I start off in “Normal” mode. I also have “Comfort”, “Eco”, “Sport”, and “Sport+” available. The Lexus LC 500h starts in silence. Shift the lever to “D”, lift off the brake, and it begins to coast ahead with no sound; until the park assist system chimes in with fervour. The LC is a big car! It measures 4.8 metres long, two metre wide, and is just 1,345 mm high, with a low 140 mm of ground clearance—necessitating that a different driver profile be invoked; sideways action of a different kind over speed-humps and when tackling overly outrageous remnants of shoddy road works. Nevertheless, the LC was made for cruising and munching miles in style, with a soundtrack that, doubtless, is reminiscent of the LFA’s intoxicating Yamaha-tuned V10 soundtrack.

On the go, there is more than enough go when the right pedal is prodded and, in either of the Sport modes, selected by turning the knob forward once or twice for “Sport+”. The accompanying change of theme in the driver’s cluster ahead is exciting to witness. The LC lets out a howl that sounds half-synthesised and half-rabid and all-powerful. It shoots ahead with authority, after a—necessary and perceptible—little kick from the tail. Good sports car!

Lexus LC 500h action

The multi-link front and rear suspension is quite firm but keeps the near two-tonne weight of the Lexus LC 500h planted, with undulations soaked up and minor cracks and potholes eradicated due to the wheel diameter. This car has the carbon-fibre roof and that meant it was equipped with the electronic rear differential. Useful kit. The steering feel is a little numb but is precise in function, changing direction with surety and, almost, intuitively. The response is good but the weight transfer is evident and, at times, a little disorientating; this is down to the quality of roads. Even the highways switch from tarmac to concrete and have innumerable changes in surface quality; a level road seems like a distant dream. Given an even and level surface, I’m sure the Lexus LC 500h—and its rivals—would seem right at home here, too. Oh, and the LC is quite efficient, too.

Lexus LC 500h

A city figure of 10 kilometres to the litre is not half-bad, but with a mix of open stretches with scarce traffic and a bit of busy patches with flowing traffic, the Multi-stage Hybrid was in its element. It switched seamlessly between combustion and—mostly—electric power to maintain momentum and that meant a staggering indicated figure of close to 40 km/l in “Eco” mode with a consistent figure well over 25 km/l.

The Lexus LC 500h costs from Rs 2.39 crore (ex-showroom) with a limited edition also available for a slightly higher Rs 2.51 crore (ex-showroom). It has a bunch of electronic aids, including cruise control, a rear parking camera, and a handy 172-litre boot under the active rear spoiler. It’s a car for those who want to stand out. A fan of Japan? Don’t want anything from either side of Stuttgart? Or British? Or European? This works well. It feels great. And it looks absolutely stunning.

Lexus LC 500h
 

About the author: Jim Gorde

 

Deputy Editor at Car India and Bike India.
Believes that learning never stops, and that diesel plug-in hybrids are the only feasible immediate future until hydrogen FCEVs take over.

t: @CarIndia/@BikeIndia
IG: @carindia_mag/@bikeindia/@jimbosez

 

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