The Lexus LC500 is beautiful to behold but spoiled by a lack of polish
– Lexus LC500 –
Sometimes it takes a little time for a car to worm its way into your affections. Others find a way of grabbing at your heartstrings from the off and some, despite their best endeavours, never manage it at all. But very few leave you completely smitten on first sight and sound and then seem to dedicate the rest of your time together to putting you off. The new Lexus LC500 is one such car.
Its appearance will polarise opinion but I think it looks fabulous: modern, edgy, interesting and very, very sporting. The interior is just as good: given how many different materials, shapes and angles it uses it could so easily just be a mess, but it’s not. It’s a very cool, funky place in which to pass the time.
And then there’s the engine. There is a hybrid version with a 3.5-litre V6 motor that I’ve not driven, but the 5-litre V8 alternative is a pearl. In an era of downsized turbocharged engines far more concerned with manufacturing low on-paper CO2 emissions than providing driving pleasure, the voice of the normally aspirated bent-eight comes as something of a howl of freedom. And it’s tied to a 10-speed paddle-shift gearbox, with which it interacts near perfectly so long as you’ve first remembered to adopt the correct driving mode for the conditions you’re in.
But what really surprised me, given a kerb weight uncomfortably close to two tonnes, is that it handles exceptionally well. It’s taut, accurate, quick and genuinely good fun. Not a 911, mind, but for its mass closer than you could reasonably expect it to be.
So, the car has the looks, the performance, the sound and even the handling to be fully convincing in its sporting Grand Tourer role: what’s not to like?
Only the details, which are so important in a car seeking to appeal across as much ground as this. The suspension feels like it was developed in the US, where most roads are untroubled by bumps. My back didn’t care much for the seats after a couple of hours at the wheel and the navigation system is so difficult to understand and use and has terrible graphics, I ended up using the one on my telephone instead. And the boot’s too small.
As a list it’s not long, but every item serves to subvert the LC’s intended role in life and I’d counsel everyone understandably wooed by its appearance and specification to think hard about the realities of everyday life before taking the plunge.
I actually started warming to it again towards the end of our time together, because it’s so different, interesting and characterful. But spoiled by a lack of polish as it is, this is still a qualified thumbs-up, and not the ringing endorsement it’s fundamental qualities undoubtedly deserve.
Price £76,595 Engine 5.0 litres, 8 cylinders Power[email protected] Torque 398lb [email protected] Weight 1935kgPower to weight 192bhp per tonne Transmission 10-speed auto automatic, rear-wheel drive 0-62mph 4.7sec Top speed 168mph Economy 24.6mpg CO2 263g/km