Did I enjoy my drive in the Lexus LC500h?
Lexus are known for their reliable cars packed full of technological innovation – just take the LFA for example. But for such a premium brand, they are rather undervalued in the industry. That’s not any fault of their own, but rather the fault of the consumer for sticking to what they know best (Mercedes, BMW, Audi etc..). The brand occupies quite a few production spaces in the industry; producing hatchbacks, luxury saloons, 4×4s, coupes and more performance orientated models with their F performance line. The F performance division is Lexus’ in-house tuning division, think AMG for Mercedes or M Power for BMW. Two current models that benefit from this are the GS and RC which both become far more boisterous once their ‘F’ badges and upgrades are fitted. Recently, Lexus have adopted a new angular and far more aggressive design language that extends to all of their cars, but there’s one in particular that has been gaining a lot of attention, the new LC500 and LC500h.
With this and their F performance division, it is clear Lexus has a desire to create luxury performance vehicles, and they have succeeded in that, but they’ve been lacking in the true 2 seat car or 2+2 category as of late. That’s until their new model was unveiled – the LC 500 and LC 500h. As the name suggests this new model comes in two guises: a 3.5L V6 hybrid and a more thoroughbred 5L V8 (the former producing 359 Din hp and latter 467bhp). For a more detailed look at these cars, please check my in-depth tour out here.
As I literally only just mentioned, I was lucky enough to film the new LC500h at my local Lexus dealer (Guildford). It was the first time I had managed to get proper time with their new model and just from moving around the outside and inside I was very impressed. Now, I’ve been lucky enough to drive quite a variety of cars thanks to my social media work, but until this, I had never driven a Lexus. So when the dealership manager told me I could have a quick drive in the LC500h I was rather looking forward to it.
Key in hand and co driver sitting next to me in the passenger seat I turned on the car and marveled at the screens start sequence (imagine sci-fi jumps to light speed or hyperspace). Being a hybrid it’s basically silent at first so it took me a while to realise it was actually on. After being alerted to its silent running state, the co-driver directed my attention to the 10-speed auto gear box lever. All it took was a smooth and seamless flick into drive and we were away.
What were my first thoughts? The seats are incredibly comfortable and really provide a sense of security. They feel smooth and soft to the touch and the padding is firm. The steering wheel feels great to grip and the translation between steering wheel turns and wheel angle is very direct and quick. The track pad used to control the screen takes a little bit of effort to locate and get used to, but overall it isn’t complicated to use. Being silent it’s very easy to just waft along with the smooth suspension feel and easily manageable throttle pedal. What was the gearbox like? Previous Lexus CVT based gearboxes have come under fire in the past, but I hardly noticed the 10-speed auto at work. From my brief drive I can conclude the gearbox felt very smooth; it wasn’t clunky or loud. Everything came together to produce a very good GT effect. What about the hybrids grunt? I only managed two proper foot down spurts towards the end of the drive. In Sport mode the car’s displays turns red and more engine noise can be heard as you depress the throttle. It felt quick, but very manageable with wind noise to a minimum throughout thanks to great sound insulation. The hybrid V6 that I went out in has a sub 5 second 0-62 time, but feels effortless to cruise in, and that’s the beauty of Lexus – they can really utilise powertrains to produce real world performance and only give you what you can actually use…and enjoy. Now to the other end of the spectrum, braking. Maybe I was going faster than I realised, but the brake pedal did need to be depressed quite hard to bring the car to a complete stop. However, when used appropriately they were very effective and I didn’t worry about the car’s braking ability while driving.
Did I come away with any negatives? Maybe my seat wasn’t configured properly (which is probably right so this may have been my fault), but it was a bit too high so my head was brushing on the top. The aggressive front really does slope down so even though I was quite high I found locating the very front quite tricky, although it was difficult to turn in or maneouvre. Finally, there really isn’t usable seating space in the rear for a fully grown adult. I think this is comparable to a 911 which has the same problem. The first two are probable subjective, but the latter definitely isn’t.
One final thought, Lexus have been criticised for their interiors in the past. I honestly feel the interior of the LC500 models is one of the most modern, fresh and high quality I have experienced. There’s high quality leather that’s upholstered well, carbon fibre in raw and weaved form and alcantara. The Takumi craftsmen have really created a great environment.
Once again I need to say a huge thank you to the team at Lexus Guildford for the opportunity. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled for the in-depth tour and future Lexus videos!