The 2018 Lexus LC 500 sport coupe heralds not just the launch of a new flagship for the Lexus brand, but is also the first car to be built on an entirely new architecture that will underpin the next generation of rear-wheel drive Lexus cars. It boasts a powerful V8 engine, precision tuned handling, and the attentive eye to detail and luxury that is expected from the Lexus brand. It also looks absolutely amazing.

The LC 500 is a real-world version of the LF-LC concept from the 2012 Detroit show. At the 2018 LC 500 unveiling, Akio Toyoda emphasized the commitment by Lexus to bring that stunning shape into production, and this is one of those rare times when it's not hyperbole to call it a "concept car you can buy." Touches such as the 3D effect of the taillights, the three-element headlights underscored with a sweeping LED checkmark, and the dramatic Lexus grille all make it to production. Inside, the LC 500 is more conventional, but uses high-end materials with the usual obsession to detail we expect from Lexus.

Luxury Abounds

The 2018 LC 500 interior was designed to be as driver-focused as you'd hope from a sports coupe, while retaining the elegance expected from a car that will likely command a starting price of somewhere around $90,000. For example, the LC 500 was designed so that the driver's hip-point is as close as possible to the car's center of gravity, which helps the driver have a good intuitive "feel" for what the car is doing during aggressive driving. The seats themselves are designed for comfort and support, and available sport seats offer extra bolstering more support during hard corners. There are magnesium paddles behind the steering wheel for manually shifting the 10-speed transmission.

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However, the focus is equally on luxury, with the engineering and design teams again working closely to satisfy the requirements of creating an environment that was luxurious without detracting from the driver focus. The standard interior can be upgraded with soft leathers and Alcantara trim, and there are numerous electronic driving aids such as active cruise control, lane keeping assist, and collision avoidance. An available Mark Levinson sound system is designed to blow an audiophile's mind, but sound engineers for the standard Pioneer system worked to maximize the sound quality in the car's interior. Most of all, details like sight lines through the windows and to the gauges, the relationship from the driver's seat to the steering wheel and controls, and the rest of the interior is designed to help the driver focus, rather than distract.

Power and Performance

The LC 500 is based on an all-new global architecture for luxury vehicles, known internally at Lexus as GA-L. It uses a combination of aluminum, carbon fiber, and high strength steel to achieve a combination of light weight and structural rigidity. For example, the doors use an aluminum skin over a carbon fiber structure. The standard glass roof can be replaced with an available carbon fiber panel. Lightweight high-strength steel is used throughout the chassis. The LC uses run-flat tires, eliminating the need for a spare. The chassis is also stiffer than the exotic all carbon-fiber Lexus LF-A sports car from a few years ago, but much less expensive to manufacture.

The suspension is nearly all aluminum, with new geometry to help hold the road like a sports car, with exceptionally communicative steering. The wheels themselves are pushed out to the corners, giving the LC 500 very little front and rear overhang. The engine is located behind the centerline of the front wheels, helping the car achieve a 52/48 weight split front to rear, a balance that's very close to the 50/50 ideal for better handling. Power comes from a 467 horsepower 5.0-liter V8 engine, driving the rear wheels through the industry's first 10-speed automatic transmission. Lexus says the LC 500 should be as quick as it looks, with 60 mph coming from a dead stop in about 4.5 seconds.

The 2018 Lexus LC 500 will go on sale in the early months of 2017 as a 2018 model, targeting similar two-door rivals such as the BMW 6 Series, and V8-powered versions of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe.


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