“The car loves to run flat through corners and the gearbox tries to get the right ratio at the right place, but feels busy,” said Ershad.
At more than two tons, LC500h is not exactly lightweight, but the near perfect 52:48 weight distribution helps in agile handling characteristics.”
“Hybrids are the immediate answer to using gasoline more wisely and can give high-powered fuel guzzlers a run for their money.”
“It’s a type of a design which will not age!”
If our alien buddies come down to planet earth, there aren’t many choices for them to drive around. Let’s say these guys want to grab a quick bite or chill by the beach, the cars we drive today won’t look right on their Instagram accounts. Unless they drive the new flagship coupe from Lexus: the LC500!
The car with me today is the LC500h, with the ‘h’ pointing at the hybrid version powered by a V6 petrol engine and two electric motors. The normal LC500 is fitted with a V8 petrol engine in its place. Hybrids are the immediate answer to using gasoline more wisely and can give high-powered fuel guzzlers a run for their money.
If the ‘Naples Yellow’ color on this Lexus-badged coupe is not enough to catch your attention, then nothing ever will. The LC500 is based on the LF-LC concept car shown to us in 2012 and it can be termed as one of the closest concept-to-reality cars I have ever some across!
The LC500h carries an air of posh street cred. It is low, wide and runs on big wheels whilst having elegant body contours and an excellent attention to detail. The drama up front is mainly handled by the low-set huge grille with a mesh that looks like Spiderman-gone-crazy! Flanked on either side are headlamps that look like they got shot and are bleeding! The boomerang-ish daytime lights completely fall in line with the alien-looking headlamps, making the complete package look ultra modern from all angles and ensuring that there is no dearth of turning heads. The hood follows a clean line into a tight windscreen, which flows into the roof that disappears towards the rear. The rear quarter of the roof blends into the thick black surrounds on the rear glass, which gives a floating roof feel. The rear end houses a tail lamp cluster which is almost identical to the headlamp units, and there are accent lines sculpted into the rear bumper to mimic the front grille section. Viewed from the side, the LC500h looks clean with air vents integrated into the side skirts. No unnecessary character lines to take away your attention! The tight overhangs and huge 21-inch wheels mean that this hybrid is not just about saving the planet.
The thing with the LC500h design is that it looks so chic without any confusing details. It’s a type of design that will not age. The only eyesore would be the vertical air intake vents in the front bumper that do not seem to gel with the headlamp droplets. I would borrow the vents from the RC-F maybe!
Getting into the LC500h is typically sports coupe-like: wide doors, low roof and a low floor. As you sit in those comfortable seats, you notice that there is something different about them. The seatbacks wrap themselves around the shoulder area and continue towards the rear of the seat. Adequate bolstering is provided to keep you in place during high-speed maneuvers. Once settled, you notice the luxurious feel within the interior-very Lexus-like but just tight enough to be sporty. The steering wheel features varying contours to absorb various grip levels at different points. Other interesting bits include flowing lines in the door panels, which serve as an extension of the hood lines, door-opening handles without any back inserts and a clutter-free fascia. It is majorly leather, suede and soft materials rather than plastics or carbon fiber. Luxurious elements are incorporated into every possible inch of the LC500h to give it more of that grand tourer touch than a sports coupe. The rear seats are not so adult-friendly and the best you can manage is a quick city tour. The best long drives would be just two guys with their minimalistic luggage. Two medium-sized bags would fit well in the rear boot.
A 13-speaker Mark Levinson audio unit fills the LC with concert hall-quality music. One downside in the interior would be the hard to operate touchpad remote which makes accessing the car functions more difficult than changing the cylinder head gaskets! Lexus needs to make it more human-friendly I guess.
That’s enough! Time to drive.
The start-stop buttons bring the 3.5-liter V6 to life and, combined with the electric motors, is good for 354 horsepower at 6,600 rpm. The lithium ion battery for powering the motors is stored right between the rear seats. The Multi Stage Hybrid system employed on the LC500h allows complete electric motor drive for speeds up to 140 km/h. Zero-to-100 km/h comes up in a quick 4.7 seconds, that’s really fast for a hybrid!
Driving the car in urban conditions is easy, but you just need to get accustomed to the wider rear section while negotiating tight parking areas. The electric power steering on the LC is well weighted at all speeds and inputs are transferred effortlessly and precisely to the wheels. The V6 loves to be pushed hard, but the soundtrack is not very inspiring. The power from the engine is transmitted to the rear wheels through a very unconventional 10-speed transmission. The transmission system features a CVT coupled with a four-speed torque converter to give seamless performance. As Lexus engineers claim, this system helps reduce the ‘rubber-band’ effect of the CVT but at the same time provides dual-clutch rivalling shift speeds. Best left in auto mode, the gearbox combo helps you extract the best depending upon the driving mode (Comfort, Sport or Sport+). Manual mode with paddle-shifter may let you be an F1 driver for a moment, but you will be slower! Driving quickly on the LC is fun; you don’t expect such dynamics from a hybrid-badged Lexus. Suspension is definitely a bit on the harder side, but not sports car-grade stiff. A lower center of gravity and run-flat tires provide the LC with good roll-stiffness so that the suspension does not need to be too tight. Moderate rough roads will not unsettle you and suddenly the ‘Lexus-ishness’ creeps in. The cabin remains largely isolated from wind and road noise.
The wide stance of the LC with its wheels pushed to the edges has allowed for more space within the chassis to lower the engine and associated parts. The car loves to run flat through corners and the gearbox tries to get the right ratio at the right place, but feels busy. The wider rear track allows the LC to be thrashed around fast corners with a bit of drift feel. Sport+ mode is especially great, as the gearbox feels crispier and exhaust baffles open up for a better soundtrack. At more than two tons, LC500h is not exactly lightweight, but the near perfect 52:48 weight distribution helps in agile handling characteristics. Braking is taken care of by six-piston units at front and four-piston units in the rear with excellent feedback.
6.4L/100 km is the claimed petrol consumption figure from Lexus, but I think this would be highly unlikely as we only got around 9L/100 km in mixed driving conditions.
A super stylish grand tourer with Lexus reliability and a hybrid engine-the LC500h is made for you. The V8 may provide a bit more of an entertaining drive feel, but hybrids are the future of automobile propulsion. Now let’s wait for the ‘F’ guys to do their magic. LC500h-F coming up!
Pros: As striking as the concept, hybrid works well for the real world, good balance of power and efficiency
Cons: Wider rear end needs a bit of getting used to, V6 may need to be pushed to keep adrenaline levels high, touchpad control is not the ideal interface
Rivals: Mercedes-Benz SL, Porsche 911, BMW 6 Series/BMW i8, Jaguar F-TYPE, Maserati GranTurismo
one word: sport-hybrid alien
3.5L hybrid RWD, combined 354 hp (295 hp @ 6,600 rpm petrol + 100 hp electric), combined torque 348 Nm
Transmission CVT + 4 automatic
0-100 km/h: 4.7 secs, top speed: 250 km/h, fuel consumption: 9 L/100 km
Weight: 2,030 kg