The Car Connection Lexus LC Overview
The Lexus LC is an exclusive high-performance four-seat luxury coupe that’s slightly larger than the automaker's RC coupe but far more flamboyantly styled. It is something of a successor to the company's the SC coupe (and folding metal hardtop convertible) models, which were also V-8-powered but were discontinued after the 2010 model year.
The rear-wheel-drive LC was a project championed by Toyota Motor Corporation president and CEO Akio Toyoda, who has made it one of his goals to push Lexus in a more decidedly performance-oriented direction.
So far, the coupe been announced in LC 500 form, with a 467-horsepower, 5.0-liter V-8, a new 10-speed automatic transmission, and a serious set of sport-oriented underpinnings, as well as LC 500h—a high performance hybrid. Under the hood of the LC 500h will be a 454-hp hybrid powertrain.
The LC 500 goes up against models like the BMW 6-Series, the Jaguar XF, the Cadillac ATS-V Coupe, and the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class, among others. There really isn't a player in the luxury performance hybrid coupe segment, aside from perhaps the decidedly exotic Acura NSX, but Lexus has proven immensely itself capable of going where nobody has before.
MORE: Read our 2018 Lexus LC preview
Lexus cites a 0-60 mph time of just 4.5 seconds for the LC 500.
The 10-speed automatic transmission is the first such transmission in any luxury model, Lexus says. The 10-speed automatic is smaller than some existing 8-speeds and has shift times that rivals those of a dual-clutch (automated manual) gearbox.
Design-wise, the LC makes an interesting counterpoint to the LFA’s sharp lines, contrasted by the 3-D mesh-design grille and low hood. Inside, the LC 500 is said to be both cockpit-focused and elegant, with lots of attention paid to the driving position and strong front-seat bolstering (with a very low hip point). Notably, the LC's body is said to be the stiffest ever put into production.
The LC is mid-size by American standards. It’s about 187 inches long, but has a 113-inch wheelbase and very short overhangs. It’s built on an all-new premium rear-wheel-drive luxury platform that Lexus says is the stiffest unibody vehicle the brand has ever built, with extensive use of high-strength steels that outdo the LFA’s carbon-fiber platform in torsional stiffness.
The Lexus LC 500 rides on a multi-link suspension, made mostly of aluminum, with huge staggered-width 21-inch Michelin Pilot Sport tires. Six-piston front disc brake calipers (four-piston in back) should provide great stopping power for scrubbing off triple-digit speeds. Engineers have spent far more than the usual vehicle development time to make sure steering is precise and communicative.
As it is, the LC exhibits plenty of weight-saving measures (although Lexus hasn’t revealed curb weight). It has a carbon-fiber roof, aluminum door skins, and a composite trunk floor. It carries no spare tire, and the battery is mounted in the trunk to help with weight distribution—adding up to a 52/48 front-to-rear weight distribution. Underneath, the LC will share its platform with the automaker's fifth-generation LS sedan.
Mark Levinson audio is offered in the LC for serious audiophiles, and it can be loaded with tech, including lane-keep assist, and a forward-collision warning system with automatic emergency braking.
The LC is expected as a 2018 model and will go on sale early in 2017.
Lexus has played in the big coupe segment a number of times before. Its first SC 300 and SC 400 were luxurious, but restrained, two-doors largely designed by the automaker's Calty studio in Southern California. A choice of 3.0-liter inline-6 and 4.0-liter V-8 engines were on offer, with the former available with a 5-speed manual.
The two debuted shortly after the original, groundbreaking Lexus LS 400 sedan, and they were updated in 1996 before being dropped from the automaker's lineup before the 2001 model year.
A few months later, in early 2001, the second-generation SC arrived with a 4.3-liter V-8 and a major shift in its outlook on life. Designed from the outset to be a convertible with a folding metal hardtop, the SC 430 was more luxurious, but also softer and not nearly as sporty.
The second-generation SC 430 was updated for the 2006 model year and then discontinued in 2010.
At that point, Lexus was left without a flagship coupe—excluding, of course, its LFA supercar. One of the most advanced vehicles ever created, the LFA stands in marked contrast to the boulevardier SC 430. Just 500 examples of the V-10-powered, carbon fiber LFA were built, selling for nearly $400,000.
While the LFA helped steer Lexus in a sportier direction, it was the Lexus RC that reawakened performance for the masses (at least those with upwards of $40,000 to spend). The RC slots in between the company's compact IS and its mid-size GS sedans and is available to Americans with a choice of 2.0-liter turbo inline-4, 3.5-liter V-6, or 5.0-liter V-8 engines (the latter of which is slotted into the RC F).
But while the RC arrived on the scene first, the LC was previewed by the LF-LC (for Lexus Future Luxury Coupe) show car at 2012's Detroit auto show that shares much of its appearance with the production LC.