Reflecting on Lexus's journey, it's evident that there was a period where the Japanese brand seemed to lose its edge. The pivotal question is, when did a Lexus last make you stop and say WOW? It's been quite some time, hasn't it?
The latest Lexus LS and LC models represent a significant step in the brand's design evolution. These models reflect Lexus's commitment to refining every detail, embodying the brand's philosophy and its ambition to make a mark in the 21st century. These vehicles showcase how Lexus has evolved from past experiments to present a more polished and contemporary look, aligning with modern design trends and consumer preferences.
In the LC Coupe, Lexus's flagship model, you'll notice design elements previously featured in other models. Key features include the large radiator grille, distinctive boomerang-shaped daytime running lights, and a robust yet refined body shape. Lexus's strategic focus on harmonizing various subtle details has significantly enhanced the overall appeal and design of the LC Coupe, demonstrating their commitment to evolving and refining their design language.
The interiors of modern Lexus vehicles, while showcasing excellent assembly quality and impressive materials, exhibit a mix of strengths and weaknesses. Sitting inside a Lexus, with its finely crafted interiors, justifies the price, whether it's €50,000 or around €120,000 for their higher-end models. The balance of luxury and quality in Lexus interiors makes it clear why these vehicles command their prices.
The Lexus LC's interior design is highly rated, yet it includes some unconventional features. Notably, the dashboard has two distinctive round knobs, one on each side. These knobs have specific functions: one adjusts driving modes and the other controls electronic assistants. This design choice, while not standard, adds to the car's unique character, fitting for such an extraordinary vehicle.
The majority of ultra-luxury coupes typically feature factory-fitted petrol engines with one or even two turbochargers. Brands like Audi, BMW, Bentley, and Mercedes-Benz have embraced smaller, turbocharged engines. However, Lexus challenges this trend, highlighting that turbocharged engines may not always be the optimal choice, a sentiment we share.
The Lexus LC offers a hybrid option, featuring a 6-cylinder, 3.5-liter engine and two electric motors, generating an eco-friendly 359 hp and 348 Nm of torque. This hybrid powertrain propels the LC coupe from 0 to 100 km/h in 5 seconds, with a top speed of 250 km/h. In contrast, the model we evaluated boasts a more robust 5-liter, 8-cylinder naturally-aspirated engine, known as the 2UR-GSE, producing an impressive 447 hp and 580 Nm at 4800 rpm/min.
The engine in the Lexus LC is both exotic and captivating, bringing a smile to your face. It's mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission, not a cleverly calibrated CVT gearbox, but a pure-blood automatic machine. This innovative combination complements the 8-cylinder engine exceptionally well, ensuring rapid and precise gear changes with no discernible delay. This responsiveness is particularly enjoyable when you desire quick downshifts and want to unleash the fantastic roar of the engine.
Lexus has accentuated the dual nature of the LC Coupe by offering five distinct driving modes: Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport, and Sport + S. For those seeking a personalized experience, there's also the option to select Custom mode. Eco mode is ideal for daily commuting, while Sport mode delivers an exhilarating adrenaline rush when you crave it, highlighting the versatility of the LC Coupe.
During calm and serene driving, the engine and gearbox operate discreetly in the background, allowing you to enjoy your favorite music through the exceptional Mark Levinson sound system without distraction. In comfort mode, the transmission shifts with a gentle and seamless quality, precisely meeting your expectations for a comfortable and refined driving experience.
When the gearbox switches to Sport or Sport + S mode, it undergoes a transformation. In these modes, the 10-speed unit becomes more responsive, shifting gears with greater speed and aggression. However, the true exhilaration comes when you take control into your own hands. Activating Manual mode and utilizing the paddles behind the wheel unleashes the immense potential of the naturally-aspirated engine, allowing you to fully experience its power and performance.
The engine is a masterpiece crafted by Lexus engineers, showcasing a range of distinct voice tones. Initially, it roars and rumbles akin to a muscle car. As the revs climb, the low and rugged notes give way to a symphonic melody reminiscent of Italian sports cars. The culmination of this performance occurs when the engine surpasses the 4,000 rpm threshold, unveiling the true essence of the 8-cylinder powerplant, akin to the virtuoso performance of a top-tier opera soloist.
Lexus has consistently placed a premium on comfort, even when developing high-performance models like the RC F and GS F. The Lexus LC, known for its comfort without compromising athletic control, exemplifies this philosophy. It seamlessly combines comfort and dynamism, resulting in a delightful fusion of both qualities.
The sporty essence of the car is embodied by its flawless, low driving position, enveloped by curved contours and a remarkably tall digital dashboard. Furthermore, the tested model featured a four-wheel-drive system and a limited-slip differential, further enhancing its performance capabilities.
Despite its initial appearance of being bulky and unwieldy in tight spaces, the Lexus LC, with its nearly 4.8-meter length and almost 2-meter width, handles like a nimble compact hatchback. Even on narrow streets, it presents the feel of a much smaller vehicle. This agility can be attributed to the four-wheel steering system, which greatly enhances maneuverability in confined areas and during high-speed cornering.
As the Lexus LC takes on the country road, it continues to impress with its vitality and liveliness, qualities often associated with more compact sporty models like the Porsche 718 Cayman, rather than a car of its size, which approaches nearly 2 tons in weight.
The most notable revelation is the exceptional suspension balance, enabling precise and progressive handling without concerns of sudden front-end grip loss or slipping. While the two-ton weight does impose some limitations on the dynamic performance of the Lexus LC, it remains one of the most enjoyable Lexus cars to drive, thanks to its comprehensive features and behavior during operation.
The Lexus LC serves as a prime illustration of what we desire from every Lexus model - that elusive wow factor that has been noticeably absent and longed for. This model has managed to impress us significantly, and if Lexus were to produce more models imbued with the charisma of the LC rather than focusing on SUVs, it could soon find itself as a contender among the coveted German premium trio, drawing envy and admiration.