DETROIT – Lexus pulled the covers off its new LC 500 luxury coupe at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show today. The LC 500 was previewed by the sleek LF-LC Concept car four years ago and will go into production in the spring of 2017.
As striking as it looks, though – especially in its Electric Candy Apple Red paint – the 2018 Lexus LC 500 is just as significant for what’s underneath its tautly pulled skin. As the brand’s new flagship, it provides a blueprint of sorts for what you can expect from future Lexus models.
It’s built on an all-new front-engine/rear-wheel-drive platform that will be shared with future Lexus products. Most of the mass, including the engine and passenger compartment, was moved down and to the center for a better center of gravity.
The wheels have been pushed out to the corners to reduce overhangs and the drivetrain has been pushed rearward as much as possible. Even the driver seat position was lowered to maximize the car’s driving dynamics. The result is a nearly ideal 52:48-percent front-to-rear weight distribution.
Lexus is promising “razor-sharp reflexes, exceptional handling balance and rock-solid stability.”
“We spent more than triple the usual amount of R&D time to pursue linear steering and to find the sweet spot for road contact feel,” said LC 500 Chief Engineer Koji Sato.
Extensive weight-saving measures include aluminum door skins and suspension components, carbon-fiber door structures, an available carbon-fiber roof and a composite trunk floor. This stands in sharp contrast to the rather portly Lexus RC coupe.
Under the hood is a 5.0-liter V8 derived from the same engine found in the current RC F and GS F. It sends 467 horsepower and 389 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels though an all-new 10-speed automatic transmission. An active exhaust opens baffles when the engine revs past 3,500 rpm and leaves them perpetually open when the car is placed in Sport mode. Lexus estimates a 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds.
Although Lexus did not mention any other drivetrain options, expect to see a turbocharged engine with even more power than the V8 at some point in its lifecycle.
The interior boasts the same impeccable construction as other Lexus models, along with sumptuous leather applied to virtually every surface. The alloy trim and minimal switchgear are also especially striking, though it does seem to have an enlarged version of the much-maligned Remote Touch touchpad electronics interface found in other Lexus models.
A 2+2 seating arrangement should provide plenty of space for two people and some light luggage.
We expect a price tag north of $100,000 when the LC 500 arrives in dealerships in the spring of 2017. Competitors should include the Acura NSX, Jaguar F-Type and Porsche 911.
Edmunds says: The beautiful 2018 Lexus LC 500 promises the emotional connection and improved driving dynamics the brand is desperate to achieve.