2017 Lexus LC500h Review
Our Rating

4/5

2017 Lexus LC500h Review

The LC is Lexus’s new hybrid sports car, which combines concept-like looks with the option of a hybrid or V8 powertrain. Here we try the hybrid version.

Introduction

Lexus is known for producing well-made and luxurious cars, but if we’re being honest, its cars can often be a little dull. In 2010 the Lexus spark was ignited with the V10-powered LFA, which offered monstrous performance and an incredible driving experience. While there has been the RCF coupe and GSF saloon, Lexus has been crying out for a standalone sports car, which it has now got with the LC.

The LC is designed to be the flagship of the Lexus range, and it looks like it too, with its concept-like profile and sweeping lines. Interestingly, Lexus hasn’t chosen to target any particular rivals, instead forging its own path making it truly unique. 

Most of the LC is all-new, such as the chassis that has made its way into the LC – it will underpin the luxury LS saloon, too – while the suspension and gearbox (on the hybrid) are also entirely new.

Two powertrain options are offered on the LC, a hybrid and a V8 petrol engine, allowing customers to pick whatever is right for them.

Performance 

While the LC is a sports car, it is not as performance-focused as indirect rivals such as the Porsche 911. There are two versions available depending on which tune you are looking for – the 5.0-litre V8 petrol and a 3.5-litre V6 paired with an electric motor.

While the hybrid does not offer supercar performance, it couldn’t exactly be described as slow with its 472bhp. It has a top speed of 155mph and gets from 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds. Meanwhile, the 5.0-litre V8 LC 500 has 471bhp. It has a top speed of 168mph and manages the 0-60mph dash in 4.2 seconds. In reality though, there is very little difference between the hybrid and V8 engines, mainly thanks to the instant torque that you get from the electric motor in the hybrid version.

The LC 500h was the car we spent most of our time in and was incredibly capable on the mountain passes we drove it on. While the V8 engine uses much more fuel, it sounds awesome and is a delight to rev out.

Ride and handling

During the long journey we took the LC 500h on, we found it to be a sublime cruiser. The seats offered exceptional comfort that would be ideal on road trips across Europe and it had a ride that was silky smooth – there are few cars that can eat up miles as effortlessly as the LC 500h can.

What impressed us the most, though, was just how accomplished it was when you actually got to the twisty stuff too. It handled impressively well on the winding back roads and felt remarkably composed for a car weighing circa two tonnes. Unsurprisingly it is nothing compared to the drive of the 911, but it’s not really appealing to the same calibre of customers. It definitely reacts to smooth - as opposed to sharp - steering inputs far better, but it still settles into direction changes with little fuss.

However, the character of the two cars are quite different so it’s definitely worth giving both a test drive to see which suits your needs better.

Interior and equipment

While Lexus interiors in the past have been quite hit and miss, the LC’s is an undoubted hit. Lexus have hit the nail squarely on the head with its stylish, but not too outlandish, interior.  

The seats are exceptionally comfortable, while the seating position is spot on. It’s not quite perfect inside though. Despite being labelled as a four-seat grand tourer, there is no chance of anyone near or over six foot sitting comfortably in the rear seats. The Lexus infotainment is fine in its own right, but it is annoyingly let down by an annoying trackpad controller. Also, the drive mode selector that sits on top of the instrument binnacle requires a stretch to use.

While these are minor grumbles, they do detract from the driving experience and that’s not something you would really expect when you are paying around £80,000 for a brand’s flagship car.

Cost 

Pricing for the LC starts at £76,595 for the Luxury model. Lexus has interestingly made the decision to make the price for the hybrid and the V8 option absolutely identical - it says this is to make customers choose the option they want, rather than the option they can afford.

The Luxury gets a whole range of safety technologies as standard, as well as premium-feeling leather upholstery and a 10.25-inch display that includes satellite navigation.

The Sports package costs £5,000 extra and adds 21-inch alloy wheels, Alcantara upholstery and a carbon-fibre roof.

Top-of-the-range Sports+ package starts at £85,595 and you get an upgraded handling kit and rear-steer technology for even sharper cornering.

Cost probably isn’t the greatest concern for anyone who is buying an £80,000 car, but needless to say the hybrid is far better on the pocket than the thirsty V8.

The LC 500h emits between 145 and 148g/km of CO2 depending on whether you opt for 20- or 21-inch wheels, and between 43.5 and 44.1mpg on the combined cycle. Meanwhile, the non-hybrid LC 500 achieves between 263 and 267g/km of CO2 and fuel economy ranging between 24.4 and 24.6 – again depending on wheel choice.

Our Verdict 

The LC 500h is a car that is hard not to love. It looks incredible, is exceptionally comfortable and would make a fantastic grand touring car. While those wanting a sportier drive are better suited with the V8, if you choose either we’re sure you won’t be disappointed.

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