The 2018 Lexus LC 500 is, in my opinion, the most beautiful car being made today. Especially in the Infrared candy-apple color of our test car, this Lexus isn't just the prettiest ever made by Lexus, or a Japanese manufacturer, but by anybody right now. Dismiss that as one guy's opinion if you like, but after spending a weekend with the car, photographing it, watching the gawking, staring, and pointing from passers-by of all ages, I'm sure I'm not alone.

The interior is nearly as pleasant to look at as the exterior, and we'll let you decide if this or the new LS 500 has the best interior of any Lexus ever. Start the engine, and you're greeted with a bark that revs just slightly too much, but it's OK, because it sounds as good as the car looks. Settling in behind the wheel, having fallen in love with the sensual shapes and textures inside and out, I’m prepared for the driving experience of my life.

Beauty Skin Deep?

But when I started to drive, I suddenly realized that the sheer beauty of the LC 500 is making promises the car can't keep. It's so sensual, so fast looking, that it raises expectations to an absurd height. The 471-horsepower V8 sounds incredible as it revs to redline, but it’s pushing around nearly 4,500 pounds of luxury sport coupe, and the reality is that the LC 500 actually isn't particularly fast by modern standards. Sure, its 0-60 time of about 4.7 seconds isn't slow, but drivers should wave off newer Camaros, Mustangs, or even a Lexus GS-F that throws down revs at a stop light. The steering suffers from a combination of being too quick and too light, without a precise on-center feel. On the highway it wanders in the lane, and on mountain roads it's too twitchy, something that's exacerbated by the fact that the hood falls away so dramatically that there's no way to visually pinpoint where the front wheels are. Our test car was an early prototype, and so we're willing to overlook the 10-speed automatic transmission's occasionally clunky shift until we can get a full production version to test. Don't get us wrong: It's very good in many ways, one of the best driving cars Lexus has ever made. It just doesn't live up to the promise of that sensual sheetmetal.

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Think GT, not sports car

However, there's a silver lining to all this whining about the LC 500. It's not meant as a competitor to sports cars like the Jaguar F-Type, Porsche 911, or Chevrolet Corvette. Instead, it's a grand touring machine, one designed to soak up hours of driving, sometimes brisk and sometimes cruising, delivering its occupants refreshed and ready to hit the links or finely dine or whatever it is people who drive GTs for hours do.

Through that lens, the LC 500 makes more sense. It's a way to arrive beautifully and with flourish, a way to guarantee the front spot at valet parking, and a way to make your heart skip a beat every time you look at it. Instead of 911s and Corvettes, the LC 500 rivals the BMW 6 Series coupe (even though it’s not sold here anymore), Maserati Gran Turismo, and even more expensive cars like the Aston Martin DB11.

I unabashedly love the styling of the LC 500, but the car itself I only like. Hopefully the upcoming LC-F, with its rumored 600 or so horsepower, will rectify some of the car's shortcomings. But for now, there is no more beautiful automotive sculpture you can buy, and just by itself that counts as a win for Lexus. 

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