2018 Lexus LC500h Review
We review Lexus' flagship coupe on Irish roads for the first time
Pros: Striking design, luxurious cabin, advanced technology
Cons: Premium price tag, cramped rear seat room
The new Lexus LC is one of the most exciting cars to arrive in Ireland of late, and you only have to look at it to see why. With jaw dropping styling, a sumptious interior and the firm’s most advanced hybrid technology to date, the LC is a tempting alternative to luxury coupes such as the BMW 6 Series and Jaguar F-Type. We drove the hybrid-powered LC500h model for a week recently to see what it is like to live with, and if hybrid power can deliver performance and thrills out on the road.
What is it like?
The LC boasts one of the most stylish coupe designs of the last decade with its large spindle front grille, slim LED lights and bulbous rear wheel arches. Those who are familiar with the legendary Lexus LFA supercar will see styling similarities in the LC. Gorgeous 20-inch machine finished-alloy wheels are fitted as standard with generous tyre cushioning, and there is subtle hybrid badges and emblems on the LC500h model. We love how the LC demands attention in an unassuming way, and it drew lots of interest from fellow motorists during our test.
The interior fit and finish is exactly what you would expect at this price point. Soft touch materials surround the driver’s area with brushed aluminium inlays, and the central infotainment screen looks fantastic. The infotainment system takes getting used to due to the finicky touch pad controller however. The LC’s seats are among the most supportive we’ve experienced, and the driver’s area feels suitably spacious. It's a different story in the rear seats however, as rear headroom is restricted due to the sloping roof design and there is limited leg room. As a result, the LC is a car that is best enjoyed by two.
The LC500h is one of the most technologically-advanced coupes ever, thanks to the hybrid system and 10-speed CVT automatic system underneath its bonnet. It mates a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine to an electric motor for a combined power output of 360 horsepower. The LC500h accelerates rapidly with 0-100km/h taking under five seconds, and it has an electronically-limited top speed of 250km/h. The hybrid system alternates seamlessly between petrol and electric power, and it's silent and incredibly relaxing to drive at low speeds. Purists can also opt for a thunderous 5.0-litre V8 engine, and whilst it offers superior performance, European buyers will likely gravitate to the hybrid model.
The LC500h is quite heavy due to the weight of the hybrid system, but it corners with agility and aplomb. There are several different driving modes available via a stalk on the dashboard with EV, Sport and even a focused Sport+ mode that switches traction control off and increases throttle sensitivity. The automatic 10-speed CVT transmission is a technical marvel and shifts with precision, with large paddles behind the steering wheel when manual shifts are required. The LC500h is virtually silent when in electric (EV) mode, whereas at higher speeds on tight and twisty terrain, it is thrilling when the superb-sounding V6 petrol engine bursts into life and takes over.
So, is the hybrid LC economical? We achieved 7l/100km in fuel economy which is a solid return for what is essentially a high-performance sports coupe. In sports mode, fuel economy returns reduce dramatically however. The battery system is recharged through regenerative braking and the LC500h is most economical around town as a result. When you pitch the LC500h against its rivals such as the BMW 6 Series and Mercedes SL-Class, it wins in terms of running costs with annual motor tax rated at just €390.
The LC is positioned at the premium end of the market with prices starting from €110,950 for the entry Luxury model. In terms of equipment, it leaves nothing to be desired, but there are two additional higher specification grades available (Sport and Sport+). The Sport model adds a full carbon fibre roof, while the Sport+ model gains a limited slip differential, an electric rear spoiler and rear-wheel steering for extra agility.
Carzone verdict: 4.5/5
The Lexus LC500h is a marvel of luxury, technology and design, and it is a very worthy flagship coupe for the brand. Some would say hybrid technology doesn't belong in the sports segment, but the LC500h dissolves such views with thrilling performance and an engagng drive. This is met by a superbly crafted cabin that is so comfortable, it is difficult to leave after every drive. It's hard to find fault in the LC apart from its six-figure price tag and rear seat room, but this is to be expected in this corner of the market. Simply superb.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Lexus LC500h Luxury
Prices from: €110,950
Annual Road Tax: €390
Engine: 3456cc six-cylinder petrol and electric motor
Top Speed: 250km/h
0-100km/h: 4.7 seconds
Transmission: CVT 10-Speed Automatic
Body style: Coupe
Boot Space: 172 litres