Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: June 27, 2021
It seems the more we drive the Lexus LC 500, the more we fall in love with it. While fellow pundits keep comparing Lexus’ halo car to the likes of the Porsche 911 and Jaguar F-Type, fact of the matter is, the Lexus doesn’t hold a candle to those performance-focused vehicles. The LC 500 lacks rear-end grip, and the ability to dynamically shrink its wheelbase to feel like a lighter, tauter, and more athletic canyon carver. By comparison, the LC is a massive boat, large and in charge, and even with a 471-hp V8 engine, rear differential, and raisable rear spoiler, you can hardly categorize it as agile. And our somewhat bald Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires didn’t aid in grip either, with the traction control light incessantly flashing every time we got past half throttle.
Rather, the LC 500 is more effective in other departments, ones that are surely more important to its target audience. I’m talking about driver comfort, road stability, and driving theatrics. Many are quick to label the LC as a Japanese muscle car, but it instead reminds me a lot of the Mercedes SL, which exemplifies grand touring to its core: ample V8 power, effortless acceleration even at triple digit speeds, unwavering road manners, and the ability to satisfy and stimulate with both noise and aesthetics.
The naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V8 that lies under the front hood is possibly the most melodic V8 in production, singing a song up its powerband with a rich, deep-timbred tonality. Other sports cars will emit sharp acoustic protrusions when upshifting and downshifting, but the LC 500 will merge the notes and slur them together without any ear-wrenching disturbances, resulting in a beautifully integrated and sonically pleasing soundtrack that pings right up until its atmospheric 7,300 rpm limiter.
The real highlight is when you put the LC 500 into Sport+ mode and hold the revs at the redline for half a second - it will bounce off the limiter like a V10 artillery barrage, evoking fond memories of the Lexus LFA. You don’t have to be driving at full beans to get the most out of it either. You can keep it under the speed limit and still be treated to an acoustic wonder unlike the Porsche 718 Boxster GTS 4.0 that needs to be wrung out into the realm of impounding before you get some thrilling sounds.
And one look at this tasteful example of Nori Green paint matched with a Toasted Caramel interior will have you falling in love (and hungry for caramel). Nori is a dried, edible form of seaweed, and it looks exactly like the sushi roll I had for dinner last night. The shade of green artistically mellows down the LC’s futuristic, almost space-ship vibes. The looks haven’t changed or morphed since we drove it back in 2018, but that’s a good thing. The silhouette is well proportioned, draws attention faster than a maskless shopper, and looks significantly more expensive than it really is.
We think the only way to spec the LC 500 is with this Toasted Caramel interior. The colour and material uniformity is an artistic achievement compared to the relatively bland Porsche 992 and cramped Mercedes AMG GT. This is how you do proper cabin design: add lavish materials and soft surfaces, don’t go stingy on the colour, and add some Frankenstein bolts protruding out of the instrument cluster to control the driving modes. Just take a look at how much surface area is covered in that brown. It’s not just the seats and dashboard like how other automakers do it. It covers the seat frame, sun visor, seat belts, and even the door pockets.
The Lexus LC 500 remains one of our most highly recommended 2+2 grand tourers, not just for its dazzling looks but for the way it satisfies and stimulates with both noise and tactility. It may not hold a candle to other performance-oriented sports cars, but it makes up for that in arguably more crucial areas such as driver comfort and driver satisfaction. Which makes it even more difficult to accept the truth, that the LC 500 is the last of a dying breed. Naturally aspirated V8s will soon be a relic of the past, and the songs they sing will soon be forgotten. And it’s not like luxury, six-figure coupes are in heavy demand either when compared to SUVs. Get them when you can, while you can.
Model: 2021 Lexus LC 500
Paint Type: Nori Green
Base Price: $103,550
Price as Tested: $117,050
Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,760 / 1,920 / 1,345
Curb weight (kg): 1,935
Engine: 5.0-litre V8
Horsepower: 471 hp @ 7,100 rpm
Torque: 398 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, RWD
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 14.5
Tires: Michelin Pilot Super Sport; Front 245/40RF21; Rear 275/35RF21