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Lexus LC 500 | Slowly, Love

BY Azfar Hashim

This V8-powered grand tourer epitomizes the brand’s know-hows in delivering a car that offers more than just the typical Lexus comfort - but it does take time to love

Photos by Azfar Hashim

We all had that classmate once in our entire school life. That one lad who is talented, but keeps to himself most of the time. But once you get to know him, you realize he’s a swell fellow who really has a lot to offer; and if you’re fortunate enough, he’ll be by your side for the rest of your life.

Which is pretty much like this LC 500 from Lexus. When it was first introduced last year, yours truly thought it was one hideous-looking piece of metal; perhaps it’s due to my conventional tastes in car, or I was just too used to the European offerings that are easier to the eye. In other words, you know how it will work just by the way it looks.

Allow me to cite examples. You look at the Porsche 911 – you just know it offers sporty driving dynamics, and when you sit inside the car, it’s idiot-proof. Or just take a glimpse of the Bentley Continental GT – British class, hence both luxury and speed is a given.

You take a look at the LC 500 here – you’re just not sure. The front end made it look like a serpent and the grill seems a tad over the top. Its headlamps, along with the individual daytime running light and signal repeaters, all LED, seems too abstract. Flanking the car are several creases, paired to a broad shoulder that, potentially, puts Stallone to shame. The rear? Full of details that will not look out of place in a Transformer series, thanks largely to the slit-eyed tail lamps.

Too many things going on…

(Oh yes, the roof is carbon fiber.)

In terms of cabin design and layout, Lexus tried to be more adventurous here, steering away from what everyone’s used to. Boy, you do get a lot of buttons and controls surrounding you, somehow trying to justify the asking price; I’m just disappointed there’s no McDonalds or Starbucks order button. Jokes aside, everything is clearly labeled and easily within driver’s reach; even the multimedia head-unit is perfectly sized. However like any other Lexus, the track pad for the multimedia system is still not the most intuitive. As I’ve said before, Lexus should perhaps mimic the sort seen on either BMW’s iDrive or Audi’s MMI; the Germans have gotten it right in terms of user-friendliness and solidity.

Speaking of which, you can just feel - even with both eyes blindfolded - how brilliantly the interior was put together. Quality is faultless and panel gaps are hidden. On top of that, the entire cabin is wrapped in premium leather and Alcantara; carbon fiber addenda at the doorsills are a nice touch. A-game very strong here, Lexus. Very strong.

The front seats are both comfortable and supportive, which should be highly appreciated during long distance journeys. Its rear seats genuinely are able to accommodate two average-sized adults; however in this particular department, the Maserati GranTurismo Sport has a slight advantage thanks to the fact that it is 111 mm longer and has a wheelbase that is 72 mm dearer.

Powering the LC 500 is a naturally-aspirated 5.0-litre V8 engine and mated to a - get this - 10-speed automatic ‘box, power output is some 470 bhp with maximum torque of 540 Nm. It takes a graceful 4.7 seconds to get to 100 km/h from standstill; something worth respecting, considering it has almost 2.0-tonnes worth of metal to lug around.

Note the 'D10' - photographic proof of the LC 500's 10th gear ratio

Note the 'D10' - photographic proof of the LC 500's 10th gear ratio

Its engine growls brilliantly and the sport exhaust fitted on the test car lets out one of the best melody in Sport S+ mode, accompanied by addictive shrieks and pops as you stay in third and pull the engine all the way to its 7,000 rpm redline and release the accelerator (and repeat).

Lexus rarely shows off its aggressive side, with the last experienced with the RC F. Hence I’m glad to report the LC 500 is sharp and poised, with the steering providing excellent feedback. Show it a series of bends, take it faster than usual, and it munches them all one by one; body movements are well controlled, and you can feel the chassis working as one to let you enjoy and appreciate what it offers. My word, Lexus please keep this up.

Hooliganism is just a twist away...

Hooliganism is just a twist away...

The brakes are equally responsive, and useful even if you decide to brake late while enjoying some hooliganism with pesky hot-hatches. Since we’re at the topic of playfulness, switch off the traction control and you could easily execute some oversteer and burnouts. Not that I’m encouraging, but, ya know

Automatic spoiler a standard feature

Automatic spoiler a standard feature

At the end of the day, the LC 500 is a truly unique proposition, because it won’t make you fall in love with it instantly. And at $550,000 (with COE), I have to agree with you that in reality, it could buy you many other cars. The badge conscious would definitely go for a Porsche 911, Mercedes-Benz S500 Coupe or even BMW M6 Gran Coupe. While those not willing to spend beyond $500k could easily settle for the Jaguar F-Type or Maserati GranTurismo.

But as I’ve mentioned earlier, the LC 500 is the sort of car that makes you fall in love with it slowly, day by day, which is why you will end up appreciating it as a whole and not get tired of it.