2018 Lexus LC500 – Supercar of the Year – Road Test Review



No test car here at CRD has created more of a stir than this Lexus LC500.

Long-lost pals sought out rides.

The Cars ‘n Coffee crowd was enchanted

LC even stirred wild thumbs-ups from other drivers on the road.

Nobody loved this next-generation Lexus supercar more than its driver, though.

This all-new platform started life on a mission to sink the engine lower and much more mid-ship than any Lexus before.  The results not only lighten the handling mood dramatically, but they also sharpen the turn-in radically.

A new 10-speed automatic joins the thrilling 5.0-liter V8 from the GS-F and RC-F to make for a Lexus with scalpel-sharp performance on every metric.  Our tester picked the Torsen limited-slip diff upgrade in back instead of the also-available 4-wheel-steering option.

In all its forms, LC500 is a car with manners like a proper luxury GT when your mood is calmer.   Ultra-high-fashion materials and design inside complete what is a stunning achievement in luxury car design.

High praise indeed!  Let’s kick things off with a racy performance drive video.  Exterior, Interior, Performance and Pricing sections follow this rev-fest of a GoPro adventure.

 

 

 

HD Drive Review Video

EXTERIOR

You might feel very familiar with the Lexus face and its giant shield grille.  Arrow-head LEDs shining bright across the entire model lineup in the same shape create continuity unseen from many brands.

The LC500 both conforms and perfects this design language.  The low, deeply sunken chin spoiler is now the lower frame of the spindle in terrific 3D effect.  The impression with LC is all performance and aggressive aero.  Vertical slices of amber LED blinker line all four corners.  Up front, the elegant intersection of the white LEDs, dark silver lamp bezel and free-floating headlamps is quite stunning.

Three unique pod beams are smooth and pulled tight to into the fender-tops.  The ultra slim LED lamp innards made this exotic design possible alongside 21-inch wheels.

All part of this brand-new platform that also underpins the new LS500 sedan.  Style and performance were twin design and engineering goals.

This hood is so low, in fact, that it has four explosive bolts to rocket it upward if LC500 hits a pedestrian.  A terrific car to be run-over by?

Sliced, taut aluminum and CFRP form all body panels in a sharp swirl of a silhouette.  Swept windshield and glasshouse angles are truly exotic from Lexus.  They even push farther into the future than the cockpit of the legendary LF-A.

Brakes of 15.7-inches in front fill up the 21-inch alloys to the brim.  These brakes are as large as sterling silver trays.

BEAUTY REEL

More LF-A references and respectful homage in the tall vent ahead of the rear axle.  This keeps the brakes as well as differentials cool on the LC500 – those LF-A rear radiators have found homes in the nose.

In the tail aspect, the LC500 brings a fresh, contemporary and unique floating roof/C-pillar execution.  Mixed materials and lots of gloss black joins the side glass with the rear in one clean, dark sweep.

Full trunk length is interesting despite the LC500 having virtually nil overhang length at front or back.  The tail is at once deeply unique versus any Lexus on the road, and yet warmly welcoming.  3D L-shaped light pipes inside the grey opaque rear brake light screens are the opposite of years of RX chrome-lined, clear plastic taillights.

The design game has simply moved forward.  LC500 has pushed it forward.  In the flesh, this is an A-plus supercar that has visuals to move it beyond Mercedes SL and perhaps even 911 competitors, which feel traditional to a fault beside this futuristic spear of metal.

Counterpoint: It is worth noting that for all the Lexus’s extruded-aluminum shock towers, shrink-wrapped body and new engine location… parking beside any recent Corvette is illuminating.  LC500’s upper hood height where it meets the windshield is a cool five inches above that blue-collar hero.

 

INTERIOR

There is great news and good news inside the LC500 cabin.  Only a tiny bit of bad news at the end.

LC500 creates a big moment from the first time you grasp its flush door handles.  The doors are extra long and open on a smooth, upward arc.  Not as swan-like as Aston Martin yet.  But close.

Entry is easy.  This sets LC widely ahead of Vantage, BMW i8 and anything mid-engined.  Sport seats with giant bolsters somehow welcome a simple plop into your seat.  So easy in reverse too.

Once inside, the access gives way to a sense of slow, rosy euphoria.  The drive position can slam you low and deep below the window line.  Your telescopic steering wheel stretches epically to meet hands.  Semi-squared with varying elliptical shaping, this wheel is divine.

Magnesium paddles are always slightly cold and hard to the touch.  Until you work them in anger and they get some body heat from your fingers.

One of this things we love most about the LC500 interior is the comfort.  Having bite-size 2+2 seating means the cabin feels remarkably airy, and there is oodles of space to recline your seat as far as you dare.  This is in sharp contrast with the Jaguar F-Type, whose rear structural bulkhead is directly behind the seats.  Limited adjustment for normal folks, and simply not enough space for those above about 6’1”.  No such troubles in the Lexus.

DESIGNER DELIGHTS

Another highlight of the LC versus any other Lexus?  Fittings and fixtures are vastly upgraded, updated and unique in the Toyota portfolio.  Little things like window switches and green-lit door lock indicators take a huge step into the future.  The door handles on the inside are flowing, metal pieces that are artful and heavenly to look at, and a doddle to use.  So easy, yet so plush and special.

Check out the doors, for example.  These inner panels are nearly one-piece leather recliners – smashed almost flat.  So much flowing, low-slung beauty as the armrest ridge flows upward and forward.  This same open air layout extends across the dashboard.  It helps the LC500 feel exceptionally roomy, lux and special.  Visibility is genuinely good for the segment, and refinement is certainly beyond any Porsche 911 and deep into SL500 territory.

A few of the latest modern advancements miss the mark, mind you.  The new touchpad banishes the old mouse prong that auto-snapped to options on screen.  We frankly liked the old system better, and the LC’s touchpad awkward and cumbersome to use.  Especially on the move – when being precise on the touchpad is fairly difficult/impossible.

Other gripes included the low-res map graphics of the giant, 10-inch display panel screen.  Buried controls inside the central display for the heated/cooled seats are slightly tedious, but thankfully there are physical buttons for most of the nav and infotainment selections.

 

 

 

PERFORMANCE

The LC500’s new automatic with 10 gears and an extra four horsepower (to 471) are ostensibly the biggest changes to the RC-F lower in the Lexus range.

In order to make a truly credible supercar of a GT, however, the LC500 is truly all-new in body structure, suspension, differentials and grip setup.  All hitting the pavement through this ultra-wide, ultra-low new chassis.

Does it work?  Well, for sprint fanatics, perhaps not.  About a 4.2-second 60-mph sprint is the best achievable.  And to show Lexus’ disdain for the benchmark, LC does not even fit launch control of any kind.  Suitably mature and sophisticated.  And setting off from a start, the stark barking bellow from out back is the only clue to the potential inside.  Normal drive mode is exceedingly comfortable, relaxed and lightweight for all inputs.

Here is a cruiser!  Gliding down the road in serene blissful comfort is an LC mega strong suit.

BUT WAIT.

Pop into Sport and the dampers go firmer in an instant, the steering goes heavier and you sense slightly more eager shuffling of gears – starting in first versus third as it might when in calm mode.

Sport Plus is obviously the place to live.  Pack your bags.  Cancel your cable.  Reroute your mail.


SPORT PLUSSSS!

Sport Plus opens the active exhaust baffles all the way.  The steering goes HARD and FAST.  You note instantly that this LC500 changes direction with an aggression and authority unlike any normal Lexus before.  Body roll is nil and chassis balance feels flawless.  In fact, a weight distribution of 54:46 front:rear is a bit less pure than it feels.

Then you get on the throttle.  With this Torsen limited-slip differential, the LC500 is unstoppable off the line.  Any angle, any surface.  LC will be rocketing into the distance instantly.

The bellow from this engine envelopes you and tinges in your lungs and loins.

High-revving V8s like this are supremely rewarding.  And increasingly rare.  All of LC500’s main rivals, for example, are turbocharged these days.  Its intake grunts are matched out back by pops, pings and staccato roars from the quad horizontal-stacked pipes in back.

LC500 dances around corners with huge pace and grip to spare.  The informative, feedback-rick steering is surreal in its brilliance.

The autobox itself is a thing of beuty.  The snickiest, fastest and smartest Japanese automatic in history.  10 gears does not overwhelm – it just helps LC500 pounce on slower traffic like a mad jackal.

A sheer 10 of out 10 for driving pleasure and fun.  Nice in normal mode, naughty as you like in Sport Plus.


We even indulged a few (very respectful!) donuts for the video cameras.

Sheer heart-pumping ecstasy.

With your pants on.

 

 

PRICING

The LC500 tester stickers from $92,000 and added a few major options to reach $100,815 in total.  See the window sticker in gallery here for details.

Our favorite item, and only reco for a MUST HAVE is the $390 LSD.   Makes a great car legendary.  Grip on full throttle – no matter what.

LC500 is doing amazing on the sales charts for its value, curb appeal and the ease of Lexus ownership.  A more casual owner can buy and drive the LC500 without any of the megabuck ‘quirks’ of Porsche or Aston ownership.

 

 

SUMMARY

This long-song of a review is becoming a truly epic poem.  Must wrap up.

LC500 surprises and delights in equal measure.

Beyond being the best-handling (non-LF-A) Lexus ever.

Beyond having ultra swanky cabin details, tech and mood.

Beyond a smile on full throttle and even at idle as the LC fires up its V8.

This is love, people.  LC500 is one of the best cars in the world – bar none.

For all this, the LC500 is the Car-Revs-Daily.com 2017 Supercar of the Year.

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2018 Lexus LC500 - Supercar of the Year - Reviews

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2018 Lexus LC500 – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

About The Author

Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly expanding automotive news magazine.He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.