What is it?
It’s the LC 500 from Lexus.
It’s the automotive equivalent of Denise Roberts in “The World Is Not Enough”. Great to look at, features some eye-catching curves, but why is it here?
It’s long, looks slim, sounds bloody fantastic, yet its purpose is questionable.
A 351kW/530Nm V8 drinks petrol at a claimed rate of 11.6L/100km and puts power down to the rear wheels via a 10-speed automatic — 10 of them!
It weighs more than 1900kg, which means it’s like a razor that’s been used a few times — it could be sharper and more effective.
If you’re a bit green, there is a 3.5L V6 hybrid version available.
What’s it cost?
It can be yours for $202,971 driveaway.
It’s a helluva of an ask for a car that is long (4770mm) and wide (track is 1630mm), yet has true room for just two adults, and perhaps two travel bags in the 195-litre boot.
The test car was fitted with an Enhancement pack that comprises Dynamic Rear Steering, Variable Ratio Steering, Alcantara and Leather seating, 10-position powered front seats, carbon fibre roof and scuff plates, and the rear wing. All of these are a snip at just (hold your breath) $15,750.
In real terms, the potential for a synergistic whole is present. But, although the soundtrack is truly superb, with an engine and exhaust note that has genuine anger in its snarling, grumbling, snap/crackle/pop — the end result is still why?
There’s an extensive colour palette inside and out, plenty of safety in the form of eight airbags and electronic driver aids such as Radar Cruise Control, but there’s better packaging in Holden’s forthcoming Camaro.
The rear seats are effectively useless unless the front seat passengers pull their fully powered seats as far forward as comfortably possible.
The front seats do have a nifty feature though. Pull the flip handle forward and they automatically power forward to allow rear seat access. Pull the seat back and they power backwards again.
The fighter jet style seats have grab handles at thigh height, and a separate barrier between the seat and centre console. Said console houses a mouseless track pad which accesses the audio system, navigation, seat controls and more. BUT it’s still fiddly.
The driver gets a high definition, full colour pairing of Head Up and binnacle display.
The dash describes a long, narrow sweep from side to side, with grey coloured faux carbon fibre trim to the left, a big widescreen display, and the driver’s display with sliding circular surround.
This provides a choice of basic or extra information, accessed via a tab on the leather stitched steering wheel.
Exterior styling is unsubtle. A triangular shaped headlight cluster with LED headlights paired with separate L-shaped LED driving lights bookend a low set nose.
A pair of brilliant, amber coloured LED vertical indicator strips bracket a surprisingly restrained spindle grille.
A broad front track pinches down at the waist before broadening out again under the 1350mm high carbon fibre roof.
A gentle slope to the roof meets a flattened tail and small wing that’s activated from the cabin. Powerful LED rear lights are housed in a pair of chromed clusters.
Each exhaust pipe is buried deep inside the chrome and black valance.
In profile, the long bonnet sees the front seats set just behind the half way point to balance the weight.
There’s some bling and plenty of grip thanks to Michelin, with polished 21-inch alloys wrapped in France’s finest, at 245/45.
The LC 500’s party piece is the exhaust. Open the long door, slide down into the leather covered seat, punch the Start button and there’s a momentary whirr before all hell is unleashed.
There’s a high pitched growl, akin to the early 2000s note from a F1 car. It settles down into a lower tone with hints of bass after a half minute or so.
When underway there’s a choice of gentle driving and a subdued rumble, or a crack of the whip to gain the snarl of the engine’s overrun.
What’s it go like?
It’s genuinely hobbled by its weight in comparison to the similarly powered GS F.
Acceleration, from start or in a rolling sense, is still very quick, but lacks the extra sense of kapow offered by the four-door GS F.
The steering lacks the razor sharp precision of the GS F, and the brakes don’t have the instant feedback when the stopper pedal is breathed upon.
The tiller has weight but so does the car. The mass becomes evident lane changing on a highway or freeway drive. And on a tight urban test cycle in North Sydney, the lack of forward vision and the width of the car don’t make for peace of mind.
The 10-speed auto suggests that shifts should be smooth across the range. But, compared to the 9-speed found in Holden’s latest offerings, it’s not quite as refined or smooth.
There are subtle but still noticeable body movements on changes, but when it’s pushed hard and the ears are being assaulted by that awesome sound — who the hell cares?
The main issue with the LC 500 is that its not quite up to its sports car pretensions.
Combined with a lack of interior passenger and boot space, it’s more aligned with a Grand Tourer in concept, and, as a result, so is the delivery.
What we like?
- F1 style soundtrack
- It’s not unattractive
- Very comfortable front seats
What we don’t like?
- Lack of room in such a large car
- The point of it
The bottom line?
Much like the ridiculously named Dr Christmas Jones, the LC 500 performs a role that is mainly aesthetic in real terms. It really isn’t a bad looker, really sounds pretty good when wound up, but its raison d’être is questionable.
There is a market for two-door cars, but for GT or sports cars. Trying to be both is generally not a workable solution and so it is for the LC 500.
CHECKOUT: Hardcore RC F targets the track
Lexus LC 500, priced from $203,000 driveaway