A grand tourer with serious hardward under the hood
Lexus has a stated mission to inject more excitement into its lineup, and adding a second rear-drive, V-8 coupe to the mix is part of the plan. The big LC 500 is a grand tourer through and through, but don’t let its grandness and opulence fool you. There’s a lot of serious hardware under the hood.
Power comes from the F performance brand’s 5.0-liter V-8 with 471 horsepower and 398 lb-ft on tap. It’s delivered to the rear tires by an all-new 10-speed automatic transmission and optional limited-slip differential. Adjustable dampers and optional rear steering work the handling angle while big calipers clamp down on steel disc brakes. They’ve got their work cut out for them stopping 4,364 pounds (1,979 kg) worth of car.
It’s Best Driver’s Car week! Keep it on MotorTrend.com this week as we count down the finishing order of our contenders this year and share bonus content you’ll only find right here.
Work they do, pulling the LC 500 to a stop from 60 mph in 105 feet. Getting to 60 mph in the first place takes 4.7 seconds, and covering a quarter mile requires 13 seconds flat at 109.8 mph (177 km/h). On the skidpad, the suspension and tires do their thing to a tune of 0.93 average g, with a figure-eight lap needing 24.6 seconds at 0.79 average g.
“Despite the isolation, it’s surprisingly fast and very difficult to upset with Trac/VSC off (when on, it’s maddening). It does have the most understeer of any of the vehicles on 198, but like a good BMW, at least the understeer is clear and distinct. Lexus hasn’t tried to mask it with weird EPS or rear steer inputs.” – Ed Loh
“Most shocking. I was expecting nothing. In fact, I argued against even bringing the LC 500 along because it’s just so big and heavy. I was wrong. Folks, we have an athlete on our hands. It’s a bit heavy, sure, but the fundamentals are all there. Gorgeous sounds from the V-8, a gearbox that loves shifting, reflexes that hide the size, and fairly stout brakes. Great body control, too. Not a car you’d think you can push, but— surprise!—you totally can. Amazing job, Lexus.” – Jonny Lieberman
Read about other 2017 Best Driver’s Car contenders:
- Mercedes-AMG GT R
- Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
- Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport
- Aston Martin DB11
- Nissan GT-R NISMO
- Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
- McLaren 570GT
“How can this car have 10 gears and never ever be in the right one? There were at least a dozen rejected requests for a downshift, so I had to learn to slow the car on the brakes before requesting a downshift. On the way up it was fourth gear almost all the time, which doesn’t give it any snap. The soundtrack is good, but the response is not there. I’m not a fan of the rear-steer. There were several corners where I didn’t know where the steering was going to point me. The brakes were fine, except not a lot of feel through the pedal, similarly not a lot of feel through the steering with a tendency for understeer that just doesn’t say sports car but grand tourer.” – Chris Walton
“The exhaust notes on the LC are intoxicating and so unexpected coming out of a Lexus that you check the rear mirror to make sure that a race car is not coming up behind you. The engine sound builds; you hear it ratchet up with each gearshift with an almost unnatural precision. But the highlight is the amazing downshift burbles. I am a sucker for a downshift burble. It makes me go weak in the knees.
It doesn’t carry the speed as well, and I found myself gripping the steering wheel and trying to muscle it while also braking more than I should entering the corners, which contributed to a disjointed drive—ironic coming from Lexus, the king of the smooth ride.” – Alisa Priddle
“Part of the driving experience is tailoring all the vehicle settings to your liking. Whoever designed the infotainment system should be stripped naked, covered in honey, and tied to the top of an anthill. Everything is buried under layers of menus, and the only way to access it is by using a hilariously inaccurate touchpad. It took me five minutes to figure out the seat coolers on the first day, and it stayed on throughout the week of testing because it was too much of an effort to turn it back off. Good luck changing channels on the satellite radio.” – Derek Powell
“Mostly I was waiting on understeer. Then by the time I could finally get to some power it was much nicer. I like the steering, I thought it was really accurate, reasonably quick, and I thought it was a fun car on track except for that entry understeer. It was like this one characteristic that just doesn’t fit right. Go into the corner, and it was just, ‘Ah! I want to go that way.’ Then, on power, it’s beautiful, and it was a really fun car to drift on my cooldown. Even though it doesn’t want to turn under hot-lap driving, it’s really easy to drift it if you’re not.
“It was beautiful, smooth car accelerating, and you hear that engine note and go ‘Wow, where is that coming from?’ I look around to see who’s coming by, and I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s me.’ I just love that.
“Even in Sport+ mode, it’s still a little soft on the racetrack. Damping is pretty soft. I actually think the spring bars are in a really good place, and I kept pushing Lexus on that, too. I consulted on that car three and a half times, and every time I told them it’s too soft, too soft, too soft.
“The brakes are very reactive—you get a lot. So they don’t need an aggressive application. Don’t be stabby. I did once, and it just wouldn’t stop. It wasn’t making the brake gs that I knew it was capable of. So from then on I would just, you know, apply the pedal gently, and then it stopped great. Stopped really well for a street tire.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Randy Pobst was an on-call dynamics consultant during the development of the LC 500.
|2018 Lexus LC 500|
|DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT||Front-engine, RWD|
|ENGINE TYPE||90-deg V-8, alum block/heads|
|VALVETRAIN||On-demand Atkinson-/Otto-cycle DOHC, 4 valves/cyl|
|DISPLACEMENT||303.2 cu in/4,969 cc|
|POWER (SAE NET)||471 hp @ 7,100 rpm|
|TORQUE (SAE NET)||398 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm|
|WEIGHT TO POWER||9.3 lb/hp|
|SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR||Multilink, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar|
|BRAKES, F; R||15.7-in vented 2-pc disc; 14.1-in vented disc, ABS|
|WHEELS, F;R||8.5 x 21-in; 9.5 x 21-in, forged aluminum|
|TIRES, F;R||245/40R21 96Y; 275/35R21 99Y Michelin Pilot Super Sport ZP (Tread 300)|
|TRACK, F/R||64.2/64.4 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||187.4 x 75.6 x 53.0 in|
|TURNING CIRCLE||34.8 ft|
|CURB WEIGHT||4,364 lb|
|WEIGHT DIST, F/R||53/47%|
|HEADROOM, F/R||36.8/32.2 in|
|LEGROOM, F/R||42.0/32.5 in|
|SHOULDER ROOM, F/R||56.5/48.9 in|
|CARGO VOLUME||5.4 cu ft|
|ACCELERATION TO MPH|
|PASSING, 45-65 MPH||2.2|
|QUARTER MILE||13.0 sec @ 109.8 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||105 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.93 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||24.6 sec @ 0.79 g (avg)|
|2.2-MI ROAD COURSE LAP||1:43.40 sec|
|TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH||1,200 rpm|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$104,465|
|AIRBAGS||8: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, front knee|
|BASIC WARRANTY||4 yrs/50,000 miles|
|POWERTRAIN WARRANTY||6 yrs/70,000 miles|
|ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE||4 yrs/Unlimited miles|
|FUEL CAPACITY||21.7 gal|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON||16/26/19 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||211/130 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||1.00 lb/mile|
|RECOMMENDED FUEL||Unleaded premium|