Azzy Asghar test drives the Lexus super coupe!
It was the late 1980s and the big three Japanese car brands, Toyota, Nissan and Honda, had recently conquered the hitherto dominance of the major American car brands in the USA, Ford and GM, by offering quality cars that their American counterparts could not offer – complete with extreme reliability. The next phase of the marketing strategy - to add to their established reliability - was the addition of luxury, performance, and high-performance vehicles – and thus three new brands were born; Lexus, Infiniti, and Acura.
I was a young petrolhead growing up in New York and an avid reader of Car & Driver and Motor Trend magazines and remember it all too well. They were all an instant success. Both in terms of their appeal and especially the way they were marketed. Adverts focused on minutiae details such as, the curvature of the door handle, for example, and how it curved around your fingers when opened and the brand's efforts to perfect it, rather than just flouting the car’s overall superiority – it was a true revelation and a real game-changer.
Several decades later and the brand which has not only survived the best but also thrived the best is Toyota’s Lexus – now, of course, a synonym for quality, reliability, luxury and performance. A permanent fixture on all customer satisfaction surveys for reliability and trust. Nowhere is this more evident than in the all-new Lexus LC500 we recently test drove and put through its paces.
Based on their legacy and my already huge expectations of what this car was going to deliver it could only end in disappointment one would imagine. Nothing could be further from the truth.
This could be one of the best sports cars on the market at any price, with head-turning looks to match. This latter point is the only thing that completely took me unawares. Living in Chelsea, we have our fair share of supercars strutting down the King’s Road – I even proudly drive a 2017 Aston Martin Vantage - but the looks, smiles and comments of approval the Lexus received really caught me off-guard.
The exterior lines are unmistakable to the brand, as is the large Lexus grill that dominates the nose. A rakish back lets you know this is a pure sports car echoed further by the rear-raising spoiler. Driving around Mayfair I turned as many – if not more heads – in the Lexus as I do in my car – especially in its copper/orange paint - or more accurately - blazing carnelian, which glistened in the April sunshine.
The Lexus LC 500 is a 2+2 sports coupe – the smallish two seats in the rear are good for extra luggage – or in my case – ideal for my two children aged 4 and 7 who loved it back there.
Driving an Aston as my daily (along with my VW Golf) I understand the importance of the connection between driver and car and the Lexus is unbelievable.
Changes they’ve made to the suspension and a reduction in weight improve ride smoothness and stability and allow the driver to feel in control while enjoying the performance and balance of the car. The10-speed Direct Shift automatic transmission has been configured for greater driver feel and is effortless and the response is amazing. The transmission setting allows revs to reach new higher ratios before shifting into the next gear making the car more nimble and responsive. The effect is amplified by the roar from its abundantly ample V8.
Changes introduced for the 2021 model year deliver greater responsiveness, handling stability and agility, strengthening the driver’s feeling of being directly connected to the car and delivering an exhilarating driving experience.
Reduced overall weight from previous models contributes to the coupe’s dynamic performance, while further updates to the suspension to give a softer, smoother stroke add to the assured feel the driver has of the car being firmly planted on the road surface.
The driver’s cabin is beautifully yet minimalistic design with a large 12 inch LCD screen offering all essential information to the driver. Soft touch controls and a mousepad that takes a little getting used to but should be no problem to master if you actually drove the car longer than a weekend as we did.
The new LC 500 is also available in a stunning convertible guise and costs the same whether you pick the LC500 5.0-litre V8 or LC500h 3.5-litre V6 hybrid model. Both models come with the same gorgeous interior as the coupe, with heated and cooled seats, and climate control. If you decide to upgrade for £1,500 and you also get softer leather seat trim with integrated neck heaters in the headrests – and if you’re cruising around town with the top-down on cold days it is definitely worth it.
Based purely on looks and drivability the Lexus LC 500 is a car to be taken very seriously. For those who want to upgrade to a true sports car the Lexus offers a non-cookie-cutter design that is a serious threat to German and Italian brands with a much heftier price tag and, perhaps, lesser build-quality. The Lexus ticks all the boxes. Throw in the car's true and evident kerbside appeal and you have the formula for a Luxury Coupe unlike any other.
MODEL OTR PRICING
LC 500 - £80,100
LC 500 Sport Pack - £85,300
LC 500 Sport Pack & Manhattan Orange trim - £86,700
LC 500 Sport Plus Pack - £90,950
LC 500h - £80,100
LC 500h Sport Pack - £85,300
LC 500h Sport Pack & Manhattan Orange trim - £86,700
LC 500h Sport Plus Pack - £90,950