The emotional designs and high-performance models issued by Lexus in the last few years prefaced a new chapter for the brand, one that begins now with the arrival of the 2018 LC flagship performance coupe. A concept car come to life, the Lexus LC is joining an elite group of international grand touring coupes.
"It is a huge feat for Lexus to have succeeded in turning its amazing LF-LC concept into an uncompromised production car. This would not have been possible without cooperation between the design and engineering teams who worked in tandem throughout the development process. Not only has Lexus delivered a design with high visual impact, it has also developed ground-breaking engineering and technology for the LC 500. This isn't simply a car that looks good - the LC 500 has been engineered in every dimension to deliver a very special driving experience," says Calvyn Hamman, Sales and Marketing Senior Vice president of Lexus South Africa.
Previewed by the LF-LC concept in 2012, the Lexus LC debuted as a production model at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. While available in both petrol and hybrid in other global markets, only the V8-powered petrol derivative is confirmed for South Africa.
Toyota Motor Corporation president, Akio Toyoda, who is also Chief Branding Officer and master driver for Lexus, inspired development of the LC. Focused on offering more emotional and exciting vehicles for global markets, he called for a flagship production coupe echoing the spirit of the hand-built Lexus LFA supercar and delivering the visual impact of the Lexus LF-LC concept.
"Our organisation has been working to evolve with the changing consumer tastes in luxury," says Tokuo Fukuichi, president of Lexus International. "The LC's design, performance and technology are evidence of this evolution. For Lexus, this flagship coupe also represents a fresh approach to vehicle development. The new LC embodies a shift in forward-thinking culture, and is a glimpse into the products and experiences you can expect from Lexus in the coming years."
Provocative, Elegant and Purely Lexus
Debuting at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the Lexus LF-LC was a true concept, not a thinly disguised pre-production prototype. The LF-LC won the EyesOn Design award for Concept Car and stirred many to question whether Lexus would build it. Earlier this year, Car Design of the Year Awards in Geneva recognised the LC 500 as 2016 Production Car Design of the Year.
Turning the LF-LC concept into a production model while remaining faithful to its visual excitement required nothing less than a new development process combining design and engineering disciplines as never before at Lexus. The process yielded an entirely new platform for the LC, called GA-L (Global Architecture - Luxury), which also forms the foundation for the all-new 2018 LS flagship sedan and will underpin future front engine/rear-wheel drive Lexus models. The platform was designed with a lower centre of gravity to aid agility and driving pleasure as well as to enable more alluring vehicle designs.
The desire was to preserve the LF-LC's defining low roof and hood lines, while ensuring the packaging allowed the LC to match the concept in accommodating a sport suspension and 21" forged alloy wheels. At the same time, all powertrain, chassis and safety components had to be housed and comfortable headroom had to be provided in the cabin. The teams had the benefit of working on a completely new GA-L platform, designed for new generations of front engine/rear-wheel drive Lexus models
High-Output V8 with Fury
Upon startup, exhaling through the variable Active Exhaust, the 5-litre naturally aspirated V8 issues a clarion call to driving enthusiasts. Based on the engine in the Lexus RC F high-performance models, the LC 500 version raises the output to 351kW and 450Nm of peak torque. The LC 500 can sprint from zero to 100km/h in less than 4.7 seconds.
This 5-litre V8 is a well-proven performance engine, with a low-mass reciprocating assembly using lightweight forged connecting rods, along with titanium intake and exhaust valves to allow a 7,300-rpm redline. The 32-valve cylinder heads, equipped with performance-tuned Variable Valve Timing (VVT-iE), take full advantage of the engine's low internal friction and aggressive valvetrain specs. The D-4S injection system uses direct fuel injection that allows a high compression ratio (12.3:1), augmented by port fuel injectors to enhance low-speed response.
The V8 is a good citizen, switching to the Atkinson cycle to enhance fuel efficiency at cruising speeds and Otto cycle for higher performance levels when accelerating.
The Lexus LC 500 debuts the first 10-speed automatic transmission for a luxury automobile. Smaller and lighter than some 8-speed units, this new transmission executes shifts at speeds rivaling dual-clutch transmissions, yet with the seamless performance and smoothness of a torque converter automatic. Very quick downshifts eliminate lag in G response.
A New Benchmark for GT Cabins
The ideal grand touring coupe cabin must strike a balance between function and comfort, sporting intent and luxury. The Lexus LC hits that note with an intuitive layout and an optimal seating position that set the stage for spirited driving. The design places the driver's hip point as close as possible to the car's centre of gravity, where feedback from the car is the most communicative to the driver.
The low instrument panel position, together with the low hood line and narrow A pillars, give the low-seated driver a commanding view of the road. All driving controls are easy to reach without altering one's posture. Lexus positioned the information displays at the same height, to reduce the degree of eye movement required to read them.
Comfort and luxury are no less thorough. The LC's exclusive seats feel as good as they look, with a new two-part construction technique where the main part of the seatback drapes the over the shoulder area and then wraps around the seat back. Bolsters in the shoulder area help hold the driver securely in cornering manoeuvres, and the available sports seats feature even more substantial bolsters.
The quality and finish of the upholstery, trim materials and detailing reflect the Takumi craftsmanship and fine attention to detail for which Lexus is renowned.
Technology and Safety
The Lexus LC 500 cockpit artfully integrates the brand's latest audio, navigation and connectivity technologies, making them easily accessible. The new Lexus Multimedia package combines an inviting graphic user interface with software that enables future enhancements, and the centre console features the latest-generation Remote Touch Interface touchpad control, with quick and intuitive operation.
The LC is also equipped with an array of standard safety features that can help the driver avoid an accident, or help lessen the consequences of a collision. Standard safety specification include curtain, front, knee and side airbags, as well as Pre-Crash System (Brake Synchronised).
There is also a host of standard convenience features, including Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Standard-With Rear Cross Traffic Alert; Lane Keeping Assist and reversing camera; LED lighting, large colour head-up display and two-zone climate control.
The Next Chapter
The Lexus brand has advanced into something much bigger than just a motoring marque. It seems to make sense that the Lexus tagline will change from "The Pursuit of Perfection" to "Experience Amazing".
"The reason for the global tagline is because it delivers a strong, unified message and signals the brand's new shift towards a "lifestyle" direction. The two key words are EXPERIENCE - which relates to the design and engineering ingenuity of Lexus vehicles - and AMAZING, which relates to the impressions we would like our customers to feel behind the wheel," says Glenn Crompton, Vice-President of Marketing at Lexus South Africa.
The LC 500 At Glance
- Standard Bi-LED-Auto High Beam Headlights
- Aluminium-Smart Entry Outside Door Handles
- Carbon Fibre Inside Door Handles
- Lexus Dynamic Handling with 4-wheel Steering
- Vehicle Dynamic Integrated Management
- Drive Mode Select (Eco,Normal,Sport,Sport S+)
- 21" Michelin Pilot Super Sport Tyres
- Adaptive Cruise Control
- Heads Up Display
- Navigation System
- Driver and Passenger Seat Heater and Ventilation
- Priced at R1 729 600, the LC 500 comes with a Service Plan of 4years/100 000km and a standard Lexus Distance Plan Complete.