Review: 2017 Lexus LC 500

Review: 2017 Lexus LC 500
Review: 2017 Lexus LC 500

Lexus has been around for 25 years – and now it’s decided to make a bid for sports car mastery. A convincing one it is, too…

Remember when a Lexus was a boring thing? Brilliantly made, superbly engineered and all that, but dishwater dull to look at and all too often no more than worthy to drive.

Well, Lexus has been around for a quarter of a century now and the company has come of age. We know this because it says so. To celebrate, it’s tearing up the rule book and entering a new era.

Lexus LC 500

lexus-lc500-webdrive-1108
On sale: late summer 2017
Price: £80-90,000 (est)
Engine: 5.0-litre, V8, petrol
Power: 467bhp
Torque: 389lb/ft
Gearbox: 10-speed automatic
0-60mph: 4.4sec
Top speed: 168mph
Economy: n/a
CO2 emissions: band n/a

It’s a new era of bold styling and exciting performance. Backed up by the build quality, engineering brilliance and customer service we’ve come to expect, of course, but that’s all good.

As bold moves go, putting a concept car into production takes some beating. Especially when it was never meant to be anything more than a concept car in the first place.

But that’s the LC 500. It’s the 2012 LF-LC concept, re-engineered upon Lexus’ new GA-L platform and offered with a choice of V8 and hybrid engines. And just as Lexus’ first car, the LS, arrived 25 years ago on a mission to beat the Mercedes S-Class, the LC 500 has its sights locked on the SL.

And the BMW 6 Series. And the Porsche 911, dammit. But can it really be that good?

Answer: yes. Yes, it actually can. The 911 is still ahead by a nose, but Lexus is right in the mix with this car.

lexus-lc500-webdrive-1110

The V8 engine we mentioned is the 467bhp 5.0-litre unit from the RC F, which is mated to a new 10-speed direct-shift auto whose changes are so precise and so quick that the whole driving experience feels completely linear. There’s a drive mode dial with no less than six settings; the top one is really only suitable for using on a circuit, but one step down from there is Sport S – which we found ideal for getting the best response from the LC 500’s chassis.

And the response is good. Really good. It’s grippy and poised, retaining its balance even when pushed hard on poor roads, and though it rides firmly around town it gets into its stride on faster roads, becoming easier to drive than you’ve any right to hope a front-engined, rear-wheel drive sports car will be.

lexus-lc500-webdrive-1099

We need to add that our test car had variable-ratio steering, rear-wheel steer and a limited-slip diff, all of which helped make it more agile and sure-footed than ever. Even with this borne in mind, though, the LC 500 is delicate and confidence-inspiring to a triumphant degree.

Inside, it’s as lairy to look at as it is from on the street. Taste is personal, of course, but there’s no denying the sheer quality of the way it’s put together.

lexus-lc500-webdrive-1103

There’s also no denying the sheer lack of space in the rear seats, but see it as a 2+2 and there’s nothing about the LC 500 that should confound you.

Not unless you’re on a spying mission from one of Lexus’ perennial German rivals and you were hoping for this new direction for the company to be the kind you take when you go off the edge of a cliff, at least. Because what we see here is convincing evidence that not only has Lexus come of age – but that the next 25 years are going to be very exciting indeed.

Group test: Used Honda CR-V v Used Mazda CX-5 v Used Subaru Forester

Honda CR-V 1.6 i-DTEC SE Navi auto (3 stars) Engine size: 1.6-litre diesel List price when new: £30,520 Price today: £17,500* Power:

Review: Mini 1499 GT

The Mini 1499 GT name won’t be so familiar, but the car that inspired it might be: the 1970s Mini 1275 GT. It’s a special edition

Review: Range Rover Velar P300

The Range Rover Velar is a very upscale premium SUV. Up to now, we’ve enjoyed it in both V6 petrol and diesel guise – the P380

Review: Skoda Karoq Edition

The Skoda Yeti and Kodiaq were two of my favourite cars of last year. The Yeti, despite some flaws was a characterful utilitarian compact SUV