Thursday, March 09, 2017

Lexus LC 500 Athletic, Artistic, Accomplished

Lexus LC 500h On The Kona Coast. Image Credit: James Groth (2017)

Lexus LC 500 Athletic, Artistic, Accomplished
by: James Groth, Miles Ahead Communications - Kona, Hawaii - February 2017

“Experience Amazing” is the new tag line for Lexus. The journalists on this media trip certainly did have an amazing experience from the exotic setting of volcanic Kona to the overall performance and striking design of the 2018 Lexus LC 500 and 500h coupes.

Toyota Motor Company committed one billion dollars over a five year development period to launch these Grand Touring Coupes to compete in the Prestige/Luxury Sector of $100,000 cars. The new models arrive in May at a rate of 400 units per month. The low production will add to the exclusiveness prestige clients and early adopters seek. Pricing for the LC 500 will start at $92,000 the LC 500h starts at $96,510.

Lexus LC 500 V8 Showing Its 3D Graphics Tail Lights. Image Credit: James Groth (2017)

This project started at the top with president Akido Toyoda. Mr Toyoda changed the culture of Lexus cars from highly reliable generic looking luxury cars to cars with a distinct style and spirited performance. The new models that create powerful emotions from their driver or bystanders.  Mr. Toyoda is also Chief Brand Officer and one of the Lexus Master Drivers, so he is well equipped to inspire as he has with these flagship models.

Lexus LC 500 V8 In Autumn Shimmer Kona, Hawaii. Image Credit: James Groth (2017)

The LC coupes are not intended to directly compete with Lamborghini and Ferrari, since these are primarily weekend cars. The target is Mercedes SL, Jaguar F-type and BMW 650, cars that are usable as daily drivers while highly capable as  international touring vehicles. The LC 500 coupes keep the romance of crossing Europe safely at high speed and comfort a practical reality. Note that the LC 500h is particularly fuel efficient for a high performance car, given its EPA rating of 26 city / 35 highway / 30 combined. The V8 version is  EPA rated at 16 /26 /19.

Lexus LC 500 Four Seasons Hotel Kona, Hawaii. Image Credit: James Groth (2017)

Thees coupes have an entirely new platform designated as GA-L (Global Architecture - Luxury). The design goals that were met are a low center of gravity for improve handling and a chassis stiffness that exceeds even the half million dollar Lexus LFA supercar. During the day long drive roll and lean were never an issue in tight corners. The LC 500 feels as light on its feet as a wide receiver making down field cuts. Co-drivers gave this set up high marks
for comfort and handling.

Lexus LC 500 Road Test Kona, Hawaii. Image Credit: James Groth (2017)

I had the opportunity to drive and compare both the 471 horsepower V8 and the 345 horsepower Multi Stage Hybrid V6 with twin electric motors. Both versions have their own personality with only  three-tenths of second  performance variance from 0-60 mph in favor of the V8. The 5.0-liter V8 has DOHC, 32 valves with variable value timing and 398 lb-ft. of torque at 4,800 rpm.Red line is 7,100 rpm and peak torque in held from 4,800 to 5,600 rpm.

The acceleration from a stop is to sixty is a mere 4.4 seconds. Top speed is limited electronically to 168 mph. The V8 weights in at 4,280 lbs. The island’s roads while fine for testing on road handing don’t provide many opportunities for high speed, but that was not essential to get the true spirit of how most owners will enjoy their cars. I found two-lane passing effortless and happening as fast as you can plant your right foot down and snap the paddle shifters.

Gear Shift in Leather and Satin Chrome. Image Credit: James Groth (2017)  

The transmission is a 10-speed Sport Direct Shift with paddle shifter and manual mode.  This multi cam V8 is  exhilarating at any speed without flat spots in its power curve. The 10-speed transmission efficiency wastes none of this power by with its rapid change and seeming endless gearing.

However, the rush that impressed me was the sound and feel of dropping fours gears at ninety. It’s a sound I have only heard on the track when Formula 1 or  Indy Cars or are downshifting. I always thought I really don’t need more than five gears as long as one is an overdrive. This Sport Direct Shift 10-speed changed my mind, not only for the fast times and fuel efficiency but
for the sheer fun of it.

Lexus LC 500h in on Kona Coast. Image Credit: James Groth (2017)

Power in the 500h is derived from an Atkinson-cycle 3.5-liter gas V6 with direct fuel injection, variable value timing and red lining at 6,600-rpm. This engine accounts for 220 kW / 295 HP and torque of 348 Nm / 256.7 lb.-ft @ 4,900 rpm. The MSHS allows the LC 500h to operate the gas engine off at speeds up to 87 mph. Emission certification is LEV lll SULEV30.

Lexus LC 500h in Smokey Granite Mica in Kona, Hawaii. Image Credit: James Groth (2017)

The hybrid system includes twin permanent magnet synchronous motor generators. MG1’s function is primary generator, engine starter and control of engine speed. MG2 drives the rear wheels and handles regenerative braking. The compact battery is Lithium-icon made up of 84 cells and is located between the rear seats and luggage compartment. The nominal voltage is 310.8V and the system voltage is 650V. The total systems power is 264 kW / 354 HP. The manufacture times are 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds, outstanding for a car that weighs 4,435 lbs. Lexus says this is their first hybrid that can spin its tires.

Lexus LC 500h Multi-Stage Hybrid logo. Image Credit: James Groth (2017)

Bill Kwong of Lexus College explained the Lexus Hybrid Synergy Drive as keeping the planetary-type continuously variable transmission and adding a unique four-speed transmission. Working in concert,the two gears alter output in four stages to utilize the V6 engine across the entire speed range. In M mode, the two gear sets act together to provide the effect of 10 ratios, giving the LC 500h a highly engaging feel and allowing the driver to shift thought the ratios with paddle shifters.

Lexus LC 500h in Ultra White. Image Credit: James Groth (2017)

Top speed in the hybrid is electronically limited to155 mph, another indication that this model is not trying to be a track day star. Instead this is a 2+2 is designed for safe touring in comfort at speed. These coupes are front midship engine layouts with rear-wheel drive.

I inquired about the possibility of all-wheel drive. No AWD is planned at this time and in the case of the 500h there in not the space to accommodate the hardware. Given the effectiveness of the suspension that includes double ball joint front suspension AWD should not be draw back. The turning circle curb to curb is a tight 17.7 ft and with the optional Active Rear Steering a mere 17.4 ft.

The Lexus Corporate Identity Design Feature Is Its Spindle Grill. Image Credit: James Groth (2017) 

The spindle grill gives the LC 500 coupes a distinctive recognizable look and is the brands signature design feature. Lexus designed a unique mesh texture that changes visual tension as it spreads across the front of the car.

Compact Triple Projector LED Headlights. Image Credit: James Groth (2017)

Adding to the sleek look of the front end are ultra compact triple LED headlamps with functional venting.The venting adds aerodynamic stability and cooling.

The Chrome-Plated Moldings Reflect A Traditional Japanese Sword. Image Credit: James Groth (2017)

The chrome plated moldings on the edge of the roof are meant to represent the lines of a traditional Japanese sword. Even the rear tail lights have a design element to them not previously seen. The tail lights use mirrors to create a three dimensional series of L-shaped graphics.

The standard wheels are 20” cast aluminum with run flats Fr. 245/45RF20. and Rr. 275/40RF20. There optional forged aluminum 20” Fr. 245/45RF/20 and Rr. 275/45/20 and 21”Fr. 245/45RF20 and Rr. 275/35RF21. The front brakes have 6-piston calipers and the rear have 4-piston calipers.

Materials and Details Showcase ’Takumi’ Craftsmanship Artisan Design. Image Credit: James Groth (2017)

The interior appointments of the monotone interior are exquisite with switches that are intuitive requiring little movement to reach.  An 8” LCD display with Eco driving indicator is set low in the cockpit in keeping with the low center of gravity objective. The door handles are sculptures in satin chrome. Alcantara door panels have a wave effect artistically complimenting the lines of the dash. All of the interior stitching is done by hand and is so precise
it’s hard to tell.                          

The Satin Chrome Door Handles Are Sculptures. Image Credit: James Groth (2017)

Thankfully Lexus designers have retained an upright gearshift lever rather than a ‘pop up dial shifter’. A 10.3 inch multi-information display combines graphic user interface with upgradeable software along with latest remote touch interface touchpad.

The instrument binnacle is unique in its singular design and look. It is the lasted version of thin film transistor display tech, first introduced on the LFA supercar. Front seats are 10-way power in leather, rear seats are Nu Luxe.

Traditional it is not, the LC 500 may be setting the new contemporary look for functionality.  It is understandable why the LC 500 was selected as “Best Design Interior”.

10-Way Power Front Seats in Leather, Rears in NuLuxe. Image Credit: James Groth (2017)

The test LC 500h came equipped with the optional Mark Levinson 835 watt, 7.1 channel,13-speaker system  tailored to the LC interior and will attract audiophiles seeking a reference quality setup. This system includes Claire-Fi music restoration tech that enhances playback by analyzing and improving the sound quality of compressed digitized music.

Also, there are Sport, Performance and Touring Packages to further personalize the LC5 500h. As expected in this level of automobile all the latest safety systems are standard and include pre-collision with pedestrian detection, all-speed radar cruise control, lane departure with steering assist, sway warning and intelligent high beam system.

Lexus LC 500 An Aggressive Design and Stance Backed Up by Its Performance. Image Credit: James Groth (2017)

Lexus already has ‘reliable’,’trusted’ and ‘practical' in their consumer confidence deck, now they are adding the emotional appeal of ‘high style design' to their hand of cards. For some the trump card may be the offering of a hybrid model with unrivaled fuel efficiency for its sector; the figures are worth repeating 26 city / 35 highway / 30 combined.




TAGS: Lexus, Lexus 500, Lexus 500h, Experience Amazing, Toyota Motor Company, James Groth  

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