‘It’s what a more emotional Lexus looks like to me – and what it sounds like…’ The introduction, from Toyota president Akio Toyoda, gives way to a sharp-edged engine roar as the new Lexus LC500 takes the stage at the 2016 Detroit Motor Show.
And it does sound pretty good (check out the video above…) even if the ‘aural thunder’ from Lexus’s new performance flagship is partly generated by a Sound Generator.
Lexus’s intention with this car though is plain – the LC500 is meant as a deadly serious sporting coupe to recapture some of the appeal of the incredible LFA supercar. Injecting more passion into Lexus is something of a mission for Toyoda-san.
From what Lexus has told us about the car in Detroit the LC500’s bite may well be as sharp as its bark. Here’s a rear-drive coupe with a design you won’t miss powered by a 467bhp (and 389 lb ft) naturally-aspirated V8 in an all-new, low centre of gravity chassis that’s set up, says the firm, to ‘offer a dynamic driving experience and character unlike any Lexus vehicle prior to it’.
Weight distribution is 52/48 front/rear and the steel body is the most rigid Lexus has ever made; stiffer, it says, than the mostly carbon LFA. The brakes are six-pot caliper up front. The LC500 also gets the first 10-speed automatic transmission, single-clutch only but with shift times that are claimed to rival a dual-clutch unit. With the high-revving V8 (from the RC-F – see our test of that here) in full song, the car is said to get from 0-62mph in under 4.5secs.
With a typically Lexus oversized grille you will surely see the LC500 coming. The production reality comes four years after the LF-LC concept was shown at Detroit in 2012. Lexus people say they had no intention of putting that into production, but that reaction to the concept made them change their mind.
It has made the transition to the showrooms not much changed: the stance is just as purposeful and there are lots of design flourishes and jewel-like detailing to set it apart from various Mercedes, Porsche and BMW rivals. It takes a particular Lexus-like approach on the inside too – very luxurious of course but also very driver focused for a Lexus – while the roof is either all glass or, as an option, carbon-fibre. That saves a little weight, as does the mostly aluminium multilink suspension and aluminium doors.
The front end’s styling certainly makes a statement. The grille has a new 3D mesh with the L-shaped running lights below a triple LED headlight unit that, says Lexus, uses the thinnest projectors. Dramatic certainly, but not all will love it – let us know what you think.
All up it’s not quite an LFA (but will obviously be far cheaper than that car) but at the same time promises to be substantially more convincing than Lexus’s last luxury coupe, the SC.
Dawn of a new era for Lexus, as it claims? That we will have to wait to discover, but Akio Toyoda is in no doubt.
‘The LC 500 has been an important product for Lexus and me personally,’ said the Toyota president. ‘A few years ago, we decided to guide the future of the brand with products that had more passion and distinction in the luxury market. This flagship luxury coupe’s proportions, stunning design and performance make a strong statement about our brand’s emotional direction…’
There’s no word on pricing yet but you should be able to order one this year for delivery in 2017.