Let’s test the Lexus LC 500h, at least, the nicest Lexus ever produced
Unfortunately, crashing cars into the gravel tray is not my daily job. In fact I work for a law firm in order to afford the different bolides I destroy during the race season. As a lawyer, you regularly need to legally qualify the behaviour of your clients. It is why we use standards. The reasonable man or woman is one of them. It defines the conduct of a rational person or investor. I always wondered what was the car of the reasonable person, picturing it was probably a 911. Recently I changed my mind : the car of the reasonable investor must be the Lexus LC 500h.
First time with a Lexus : fighting against my own bias
The reasonable person is someone who behaves in the most logical way thanks to its good knowledge of the situation. He/she is not exuberant neither excessively careful. Well, a person like you and me ! (Ummm…)
So you wonder why on earth would you buy a Lexus? Because you believe it is a boring brand doing boring cars. In fact you never tested it, and you don’t want to. You already made your opinion about Japanese cars and that’s all ! Don’t worry, this was also my case, until Nicolas requested me to bring back the car to the Lexus France Head Quarter. I was so impressed by the car, and felt so ashamed about my partiality that I decided to write a few lines about this surprising UFO. Eventually, I find myself writing the article….
Introducing you to my last week-end partner, the Lexus LC 500h
I’m aware that Lexus sales remain quite confidential in France despite we tend to see more and more advertisement on TV, so you need a refreshment. The Lexus LC 500h is the top of range coupé from the luxury brand of Toyota, available with two motorization : the V8 5.0L delivering 464 HP (yep, in a Lexus hood) or the V6 3,5L hybrid powering 359 HP. Both have the merit to be atmospheric, which is a great thing considering that most of the manufacturers plug turbos everywhere in order to reduce carbon emissions. Downsizing as they call it.
We chose the V6 which is a bit lighter even if it already weights 2 tons. This data is important considering the fact the car is front engined, and that V8s generally impair the quality of the steering.
Enjoying a Lexus LC 500h on small roads (can you believe it?)
My ride of the day impressed me by its precision. It doesn’t under-steer, which is a frequent problem with cars of this category. On the contrary, in tight corners the car is at ease, the inscription very good, due to the fabulous work of the suspension.
The whole conduct is excellent, especially on small roads where the Lexus turns out to be perfectly balanced. At a point you start wondering where the limits are, even on wet asphalt. Well, we are in a proper sports car! Who would have imagined that, talking about a Lexus?
The additional performance results from the fact it has not been obtained to the detriment of the comfort. I believe Lexus found the perfect way between cosiness and precision. The seats are tailored for 80 +/-10 kilos driver. Provided you are in the range, you feel like in your pajamas.
What you don’t necessarily bargain for is the funny side of the car. To be honest, I thought that it would be too serious and sanitized. You see, a kind of Nissan GT R (with less power of course) : really performant but soulless.
Provided you select the Sport or Sport + mode, the Lexus LC 500h is funny. Keep calm, I haven’t said it was a muscle car. But, if you accelerate strongly, the electronics let the back move, sliding between the right and the left of the road, however without being dangerous. You feel like in a proper sportive, but if it’s not enough, you can shut off the ESP. It will largely satisfy most of the owners.
Does driving an hybrid car makes you feel better?
We now reach the point where Lexus will probably depart with my opinion. I always have been sceptical about hybrid cars and will remain so as long as fuel savings will not be significant in normal driving conditions. I mean, of course hybrid helps saving a bit of petrol, but it appears to be much efforts, especially if after 100 km of reasonable drive you suddenly want to play with with the right pedal. You fill like a person being on a diet during the week days and eating burgers the week-end.
However, I found two other interests to this technology. The first one is the additional torque it procures to the car, especially at low RPM which implies it is able to react immediately, in any circumstances. The second one is the comfort added for city drive due to the absence of noise or jolt. You feel like driving a Japanese flying silk carpet.
It really miss the plug-in, in order to increase the electric capacity and have a real ecological impact (at least in your mind). This is the main critics I can do, but who said we were looking to be greener..?
A green sport GT car, really a Swiss knife?
You might think it is paradoxal to talk about comfort, environment in a sports car review? Yes and no. Remember my introduction about the reasonable man or woman. This is the figure of someone who seeks to enjoy life but who is not radical in his/her choices. This kind of guy doesn’t not daily drive a Morgan neither have a car for each circonstances. He or she want to realize a multipurpose investment.
Lexus provides a serious answer to the reasonable person’s requests. This is a good option to go to work, to withstands the traffic jam, and relax after a long day, because you already feel like in your sofa. This is also a good car to enjoy small roads during the week-end while going back to your childhood village, visiting your family.
A rational person is not a bored nor a jaded one. Sometimes, he/she has enough with his serious life and needs to have a bit of fun. The Lexus LC 500h offers this possibility. The acceleration is good (0-60 mph in less than 5 seconds). The 10 speeds gearbox is one of the most impressive I’ve ever tested. The shift is already triggered but you still have not noticed it. It is a mix of softness and quickness you would expect in a Rolls-Royce or a Bentley. Absolutely brilliant! I particularly advise the manual mode with paddles following the steering wheel, if you want to have a 100% control over the car. Otherwise it sometimes seems to tell “fuck off, I remain in 5th”.
So, is the Lexus LC 500h the reasonable man’s car?
I would go for a yes… The Lexus is impressive on a lot of aspects, especially on elements that you don’t except. We didn’t talk about the inside where the level is high, at least equal to german opponents.
Even if the price is not reasonable. Lexus sells the model tested at 120 000 euros. This is a lot of money if you are a reasonable person, even if there is a carbon roof for the price. I am not saying the car is expensive. It is probably the right amount of money you have to put in a car to have so much technology, good finitions and quality of manufacture.
#FunToDrive Score: 82/100
At least we can conclude saying Lexus reached a reasonable set up. The engineers managed to find right compromises. For example with the technology : present everywhere but absolutely not invasive. It is more an help for the driver than a way to restrict him. Second example with the design of the car that offers some personality, which becomes rarer and rarer. The drawing is sensual, I even would say erotic, but the shape remain acceptable for a large public. It is a considerable step forward considering the fact that Lexus were far from being the prettiest cars two decades ago…
One thing is sure : I did not manage to be reasonable while driving the Lexus LC 500h ….