No, that’s not another version of the LF-LC – it’s the all-new Lexus LC500 Coupe, which looks a heck of a lot like the showcar that preceded it way back in 2012.
That’s not to suggest that the styling has aged – we’ll let you make up your own minds on that – but at the 2016 Detroit auto show where the car was revealed in “near-production” guise ahead of its showroom debut in some markets in 2017, there were plenty of jaws left agape.
There is a stunning resemblance between the concept version and the production car. But it’s important to note that this is fully a Lexus project, one that was developed in-house without the assistance of any other company (so, it’s not a Lexus version of the long-rumoured BMW/Toyota joint-venture model, aka the Supra).
With a 5.0-litre V8 petrol engine sending power towards the rear wheels through an industry-first 10-speed automatic gearbox, the LC500 Coupe is good for about 350kW of power (no torque figure has been made available, only a target of 530Nm), and a claimed 0-60 mile per hour (0-96km/h) time of “under 4.5 seconds”.
It’s the same engine as is used in the RC F performance coupe, and that new gearbox should theoretically be able to make good use of the power on offer. Lexus claims the transmission has shift times “rivalling those of a dual-clutch transmission” and, further, says the gearbox is smaller and lighter than some current eight-speed units.
Toyota Motor Corporation president and Lexus chief branding manager, Akio Toyoda, made it clear that he wanted this model to be “exhilarating in every way – inside, outside, and under the hood”.
And as such, the Lexus LC500 has, as Lexus claims, a “fantastic sound”. It features an active exhaust system that opens the baffles in Sport mode to make it sound aggressive from start-up. In Normal mode the car still opens the baffles above 3500rpm, and there’s a sound generator system that pumps noise into the cabin, too.
“We don’t want to make cars to simply fill a category – we want to make cars to fill people’s hearts,” Toyoda said.
“When we designed the LF-LC concept it was to showcase the future Lexus design. We had no intention of turning it into a production car, but your positive reaction – as well as the reaction of our customers – changed our minds.
“We listened – and we made it real,” he said, describing the car as “the result of the combined passion of our engineers and designers who worked together to turn the LF-LC into reality”.
The production coupe spans 4760 millimetres in length, 1920mm wide (yeah, and it looks it!) and just 1345mm tall, all while riding on a wheelbase of 2870mm.
Lexus claims the LC500 has had “all of its dynamic control elements such as power application, braking, and steering tuned to operate rhythmically in sport driving conditions”. And stopping shouldn’t be an issue, either, with six-piston front and four-piston rear brake calipers.
While the steering wheel in the show car is on the left, the car will be built in Japan, and, as such, will be made in right-hand drive. And Australia has confirmed the car will be sold here, but timing is still to be confirmed.
In a release from the company, recently appointed Lexus Australia chief executive Peter McGregor said he was delighted that it would be made available to our market.
“The LC500 epitomises the new spirit of Lexus and will act as a lighthouse model for our expanding range,” McGregor said.
The cockpit is perhaps not as outlandishly stylised as the exterior may suggest, but as the lead designer for the Lexus LC500, Todai Mori, told CarAdvice, there are some big advances in the cabin over the current crop of Lexus cars.
“This is kind of a new direction for Lexus,” Mori said. “The driver’s side has a very nice cockpit area. On the passenger side you have a more open comfortable feeling. We didn’t want to make a sacrifice for passengers. Both seats need to have a very nice, comfortable, welcoming space.”
The car, according to Mori, was designed from the start as a 2+2 seater, and he said that while the vehicle may look similar to the concept car, it was a complete rework to turn it into a reality.
“The car is kind of a joint-venture. The original concept is from CALTY design in the United States and we worked closely, and also we kind of handed over this design. But we had to do everything from scratch, because the concept is just a concept car,” he said.
“So we’ve got to start from platforms and suspension design, but we wanted to make it as low to the ground as possible. We asked our engineers: ‘please, please make this suspension system’. They worked so hard to fit it.
“This is an original Lexus design and engineering. The motor is carried over from the RC F, that’s it,” he said.
**Updated Tuesday 12 January at 12:00pm with new details, including Australian confirmation.
Click the Photos tab above for more images of the Lexus LC500.