The all-new 2017 Lexus LC flagship coupe is expected to arrive in local showrooms from May, with a choice of two drivetrains.
Visually, the two variants are largely identical, bar the badging, but under the bonnet these coupes are two entirely different propositions.
The performance heart of the LC500 is Lexus’s proven naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V8 petrol engine, mated to a world-first 10-speed, close ratio automatic transmission for a luxury car, which operates via shift-by-wire – a first for the marque.
Total output is 351kW at 7100rpm and 540Nm of torque from 4800rpm. It’s enough to propel the car from a standstill to 100km/h in less than 4.5 seconds.
The engine also features a raft of exotic componentry including lightweight, forged connecting rods and titanium valves and a dual intake inlet for improved breathing and sound.
It’s also the first Lexus to receive an active exhaust, which includes special exhaust sound control valves that activate on start-up. It's something that distinguishes it from any other Lexus performance model in the range.
The LC500 also gets a Torsen limited slip differential as standard, whereas it’s only available on the LC500h as part of the optional Enhancement Pack.
The 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine featured in the LC500h is a full-strength hybrid drivetrain, but with a bit of a difference. It also adds a more powerful electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack, which collectively mates to a four-speed automatic gearbox (with paddle shifters) mounted at the rear of the hybrid transmission
It effectively introduces Lexus’s new-generation Multi Stage Hybrid System, which the carmaker claims will change people’s perceptions on the hybrid driving experience.
Despite there being only four output changes across four stages, the D-range replicates a similar 10-speed shift pattern like that in the LC 500.
Maximum engine speed has also been increased from 6000-6600rpm, and along with dual variable valve timing and friction-reducing measures, the LC 500h develops a maximum output of 220kW and 348Nm for a 0-100km/h sprint time of less than five seconds.
In a bid to create the most driver focused car since the iconic LFA supercar, Lexus created an all-new platform for the LC500 – one that is even stiffer than that car, and a blueprint for all future front engine, rear-drive models.
Apart from the carbon-fibre roof (part of the optional Enhancement Pack), the LC500 boasts aluminium door skins mounted to the carbon-fibre door inner structures, as well as a composite floor.
Lexus’s engineers placed most of the mass, including engine and driver (and passengers) in a lower, more centralised position for a lower centre of gravity for a more focused drive experience.
In fact, the LC500 is the most torsionally rigid car the company has ever produced – 60 per cent stiffer than the Lexus GS and even more rigid than the LFA.
Apart from special braces in the engine compartment and stiff aluminium front suspension towers, there’s also double ball joints on the upper and lower control arms (lightweight forged aluminium), which help to minimise steering inputs and improve steering response.
The LC500 is also equipped with a raft of handling enhancements including Adaptive variable suspension with five drive modes with a customise function, Variable gear ratio steering and Dynamic rear steering.
Grip is provided by high-performance Michelin Pilot Super Sport run flat tyres (to eliminate the need for a spare wheel and subsequent weight saving): 275/35s down back and 245/40s up front, on 21-inch forged aluminium wheels.
As the new company flagship, Lexus has furnished the LC500 with a host of luxury appointments as standard, such as 3 Bi-LED headlamps with LED daytime running lights and turn signals, heated and cooled front seats with 12-way power adjustment, semi-aniline leather-accented trim, head-up display and 10.3-inch high-definition ventral display.
There’s also a 13-speaker Mark Levinson premium sound system, two-zone climate control, active noise control, rear sunshade and smart key card.
Safety is well catered for too, with features like Pre-collision safety system, Active cruise control – all speeds, Lane keeping assist, Auto high beam, Blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, Tyre pressure warning system, pedestrian safety bonnet and eight airbags.
Both the LC500 and LC500h will be available with the Enhancement Pack, which adds a carbon-fibre roof, active rear spoiler, variable gear ratio steering, sports front seats with 10-way power adjustment, Alcantara and leather-accented trim and carbon-fibre scuff plates.
Expect prices for the LC500 to be released closer to the model’s local launch mid 2017.
DRIVEN: 2017 Lexus LC500 review