For today’s review we’re driving the Lexus LC500h, the hybrid version of the V8 powered Lexus LC500. It’s our 2nd Lexus review after the RC300h, which truly impressed us with its GT capabilities, back in 2017.
First of all we need to tell you the story behind this car. In 2012 Lexus presented the “LF-LC” sports coupe/hybrid concept at the Pebble Beach Concours. It has been warmly welcomed by car enthusiasts all over the world but the media expressed clear doubts on a potential mass production. They were sceptic about Lexus spending their resources for such an exciting sports car since they discontinued the LFA after just 2 years in production. Akio Toyoda, Toyota Motor Corporation CEO, heard this critique and a couple years later he said the famous words “No more boring cars”. So of course the concept was put in production, and Mr. Toyoda explained to his engineers that the final product should be as close as possible to the concept car.
To make this possible, they had to re-design some parts like the front suspension. We must say the engineers at Lexus did an amazing job. When we look at both cars quickly we can barely notices the differences. We’re definitely a fan of the looks of the LC500h. We collect the car on a sunny Thursday afternoon in Vilvoorde, near Brussels. After signing a couple of papers, we get handed keys to our press Lexus LC500h. Being one of the first times we are able to see this car up close, the excitement was really high. This Lexus LC500h is a beautiful but subtle “Sonic Titanium” paint job with a black interior. The paint makes the lines of the car really pop. With the typical spindle grille andthe chrome accents, this car screams Lexus.
We’re truly impressed by the exterior design. There are even a couple of easter eggs hidden on the outside like the mirror behind the taillights and the disappearing door handles. There’s also no bulky button to open the trunk, instead Lexus chose to add a small button to the right taillight. The 21inch rims look nearly identical to those of the concept and work really well with the rest of the car.
Time to hop on board. The first thing you notice when you get inside is the level of craftsmanship that went into the Lexus LC500h. We are already learned that Lexus knows how to create a beautiful interior but this is on another level. There’s no piece of plastic in sight. Every button, every piece of material used, they all have a premium feel. The interior is very driver oriented and almost feels like a cockpit.
The Lexus LC500h technically is a 2+2 seater but the space in the back is limited. The front passenger has plenty of room and enjoys exactly the same comfort as the driver. Both frontelectrical seats are heated andventilated. Behind the steering wheel, we can find some LFA DNA with the handles that control driving modes and traction control. The multimedia display isn’t touch but it would be hard to reach from the seat anyway. Instead, we can find the typical Lexus touch pad on the middle console. Lexus has got a lot of critique on this in the past but we find that, after some time, you get used to the feel and it’s quite easy to use.
The climate settings can be controlled through some buttons on the dashboard but most functions are controlled through the menus of the infotainment screen. When we start the car, all we hear is a little beep and silence, we forgot we were in a hybrid for a second. We put the car into drive, take off and after a couple seconds the engine turns on. There are 5 Driving modes: Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport +. These change different aspects of the car that influence the driving behaviour like the suspension, pedal feedback, steering wheel feedback and sound. In Eco and Comfort the Lc500h behaves very gentle. With some soft music in the background we can barely hear any noises from outside the car. Bumps are absorbed by the suspension and car swings around the corners. We would almost forget the weight of the car which is 1960kgs.
The LC500h is powered by the newly developed 10-Speed Multi Stage Hybrid System. It combines an e-CVT and a 4 speed planetary gear set. Lexus chose this setup to make the gear switches as smooth and as natural as possible. Through ECUs the car can adapt the way the gears respond when selecting different driving modes. In comfort and eco the car shifts are very smooth and we can barely notice them. In sport and sport + the shifts are quick and responsive. Although we feel for a car of this level the system could perform quicker. When we found some open roads and put the LC500h to the limit we noticed some slight hesitation in the shifts. Note that we were driving very sporty when this occurred and this is not what the car is made for.
When we get back to the essentials, getting to your destination as comfortable as can be, the LC500h really shine, this is its natural habitat. From the moment you sit down to the moment you get out you feel so comfortable you would almost forget you’re in a car. Overall the LC500h is an amazingly beautiful and comfortable car. The Sport/Sport + modes are a cool extra and offer plenty for those who want the sportier sensation but they’re not what this car is essentially about. The LC500h is a perfect alternative for people who’re looking at a 911 but want something special, more comfortable and don’t plan to take their car to the track. And don’t forget about the tax “benefits” since it’s a hybrid.