2018 Lexus LC500h Coupe Review

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2018 Lexus LC500h Coupe

Hypes: Buck Rogers Rocket Ship Shape and Sound
Gripes: Sun Visors Too Short, Vehicle Dynamic Integrated Management (VDIM) Too Invasive

Aside from the 500 car run of the $400,000, 2010 LFA, Lexus has never been known for cutting edge styling or technology. Until recently, this Japanese luxury car maker has been content to refine and perfect ultra-luxe versions of Toyota sedans and SUVs. But the recent introduction of the breakthrough LC500 coupe moves Lexus into a new league where players like Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Porsche have long been on the varsity. Does the LC500h deserve elevation to major league status? Or does it need a few more years of seasoning in the minors?

2018 Lexus LC500h Coupe

The genesis of the LC series came about when Toyota Motor Corporation CEO and Chairman Akio Toyoda visited the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2011 and rued the fact that his company was unrepresented on the 18th green, while products from every other luxury maker were in full view. Shortly thereafter, Toyoda decreed that Lexus would design and develop the kind of show car that the preeminent division would be proud to display at Pebble Beach. That car is the LC500, and it presents a startling new look for a company conditioned to building perfect but prosaic products.

2018 Lexus LC500h Coupe

This long-nosed short-tailed beauty evokes comparison to Jaguar’s sensational looking XK-E which debuted in 1961. Both cars share a fineness of line, a purity of design that sets them apart from anything else on the road. But unlike the 260hp XK-E, the LC500 comes with a choice of sensational engines: a 471hp, 5.0 Liter V8, or a 3.5 Liter V6, supplemented by a multi-stage Hybrid system. We spent a thrilling week driving the 3.5 Liter V6, which benefits from double overhead cams, and variable intake and exhaust valve timing to produce 354 total system horsepower in consort with the electric motor. While the LC500h is 117hp short of the V8’s output, you will never notice the difference because the Hybrid combo really screams. Take that evaluation literally. When you dial the LC500h into Sport+ mode via the knurled knob flanking the instrument pod and lay hard into the accelerator, the V6 emits an ethereal banshee shriek that is unlike anything you’ve ever heard in a car before.

2018 Lexus LC500h Coupe

And does this coupe ever scat! In Sport+, the fully electroluminescent rev counter lights up like Tokyo’s Ginza. As the revolutions soar to the red zone at 7000rpm, the CVT gearbox, which Lexus calls a “Multi-Stage Transmission” soars without cease as the next stage takes the redline back to 7000rpm. The best part of this orgiastic explosion of raw power is the bug that appears for a second or two on the rev counter as it reaches redline. The graphic displays in the LC500h are enchanting and unlike anything you’ve ever seen on a dashboard before. Although this coupe’s engine and gear train take precedence over other performance aspects, the rest of the package is equally intriguing and productive. The wheels, tires and brakes on this Lexus are enormous. Up front you’ll discover 10 spoke 8.5×20” forged alloy rims bearing Bridgestone’s finest high performance run flat tires measuring 245/40R20. These wheels are backed by 15.7-inch 6 piston brakes that stop the coupe like a safety net on an aircraft carrier. The rear carries even larger 9.5×20” rims with 275/40R20 Bridgestone tires backed by 14.1-inch discs with 4-piston calipers. The wheels are finished in a smoky chrome that complements the dagger lines of the car gracefully.

2018 Lexus LC500h Coupe

Inside the tightly wrapped cabin, you will appreciate the most supportive seats you’re likely to find in any sporting coupe. They are perfectly contoured to hold you in place under the high g-forces generated by the Bridgestone rubber. Yet they never interfere with your ability to slide in and out of the cockpit unimpaired. Our test LC500 was upgraded with a $1,790 Touring Package which made those seats plusher than ever thanks to semi-aniline leather trimming. The package also upgrades the headliner with Alcantara which feels like suede and looks like heaven. In addition, the audio system receives a Mark Levinson bump to an ear splitting 915 Watt “Reference Surround Sound” which plays through 13 speakers. Unfortunately, the good news inside stops there. Lexus has decreed that the its upmarket products will utilize a tiny, over-sensitive touchpad between the seats to control the center display screen on the dashboard. It took me 10 minutes of fiddling with this control to bring up the screen dedicated to seat heat and ventilation. And I was parked the whole time! There is no way you can manipulate this control interface while driving and retain your concentration on the road.

2018 Lexus LC500h Coupe

But you have to expect a few glitches in a product that is as revolutionary as the LC500h. All in all, this coupe marks a turn in the road for Lexus, from the one more traveled to the one unexplored. It’s a courageous move, and their first foray into the upper echelons of automotive greatness should be both congratulated and commended.

2018 Lexus LC500h Coupe

  • Engine: 3.5 Liter V6, 24 valves, DOHC, VVT-iW intake and VVTi Exhaust plus Lexus Multi-Stage Hybrid System
  • Horsepower: 354hp
  • Torque: N/A
  • Fuel Consumption: N/A
  • Price as Tested: $101,385
  • Star Rating: 9 out of 10 Stars

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