Lexus has a new sports car, the LC500. A neat one. That is, Lexus didn’t build a Porsche killer. Akio Toyoda – boss of Toyota and therefore also of Lexus – wanted a comfortable coupe, not a life preserver. The 911 is also becoming more and more so as not to scare the faint of heart. No offense. Soft is the zeitgeist. Courage is an admission of guilt on Twitter, strength is acceptance of your weakness.
On the face of it, you wouldn’t give him his gentleness. Deflowered on brutal test tracks, the seats are hard and defiantly tub-shaped. The design with the bizarre hourglass-shaped grille seems to have been cut from the rampant steel by glowing knives. The upright ‘legs’ of the front and rear lights, which seem to keep the shape in check like T-shaped claws at the corners, are like dripping at the seams – a figure of speech he borrows almost too ironically from the staid Toyota Prius.
The interior is beautiful in a melange of leather and Alcantara. The sleek dashboard has two horizontal, tiered levels with a standing frame between the steps for the ventilation grilles, the infotainment screen and a classic analog clock. The hood with the digital meters rises above the three-spoke steering wheel like a table mountain. Only gimmick: at the push of a button, the circular display for speedometer and tachometer slides aside to reveal the on-board computer. Shall I, conscience? Come on boy. Come on: fat!
The finish is sublime, the spectrum of shapes one of a kind. Depending on the viewing angle, it is coarse and elegant. It’s amazing how harmoniously the hard lines in three dimensions merge into a round, creamy total when viewed from the side. More than its more conformist European competitors, Lexus has developed a completely authentic style.
He is indeed very friendly. There are also four habitable seats in the back that you would not attribute to the oppressively low coupé roof. Inside, with civilized behavior, the tranquility of a sheltered home prevails. Like all Lexuses, the LC is available as an environmentally friendly hybrid, the 500h. I drive it after I first tried the top model with the V8. An amazing party number with an automatic ten-speed gearbox, which, due to its higher CO2 emissions, must yield fifty thousand more than the more timid hybrid. Lexus won’t sell one in the Netherlands, I’m afraid. All the more so because the LC 500h with V6 plus 180 hp electric motor comes out of the comparison surprisingly favorably.
For a sports car, a hybrid powertrain is nothing unusual anymore. The LaFerrari, the McLaren P1, the Porsche 918 and the BMW i8 have not lost their competitive edge. Compared to the V8, the LC 500h must nevertheless eliminate some spots. It has 118 horsepower less – 359 versus 477 – and weighs fifty kilos more than the already two-ton big brother. In addition, the stepless automatic transmission that all hybrid Toyotas have. He misses the gears that the passionate sports car driver plays as the keyboard of his noise keyboard; back two teeth and hear that roar! Such is the man. Lexus meets him with the Multi Stage transmission; with paddles on the steering wheel, the speed and thus the volume can be played artificially in ten steps.
It’s useless Playi. First, it pulls to 100 just as fast, in 4.7 seconds, with no flippers, as the eight-cylinder. Secondly, he races sharper than all the more or less sporty Lexuses before him. Of all the top brands I know, only Porsche has such a sensitive, natural-feeling steering system, which thanks to the steering rear wheels – option! – no child has to the masses. I drove it embarrassingly hard with an average fuel consumption of 1 to 13 thanks to the energy-saving technology. The LC is an aesthetically and acoustically intoxicating stimulant.
Its only weak spot is the operation of the multimedia system. That is an indictment of the mathematical ingenuity of almost everything about the car. You play the on-screen menus by moving a light zone to the function icons via a touchpad. That is jerky and inaccurate while driving, or you’re walking on ice on foam soles. Perhaps the motor inconvenience is a piece of cake for people who eat with chopsticks, but we from the West are rough customers. In front of Reparation we are apparently considered too little, because every new Lexus has that taunting instrument. The adamantness is the night side of a principled whimsy that makes the LC unique. Treat it like a charming, modern flaw; your strength is your weakness.