Lexus LC 500 Coupe: Cape Town launch for Japan’s finest

  • Flagship joins global grand-touring coupes
  • 351kW V8 and 10-speed auto transmission
  • New multimedia and safety technology
2017 LEXUS SC COUPE: Image: Lexus South Africa / Quickpic
2017 LEXUS LC 500 COUPE: Ain’t it gorgeous! Sport cars don’t have to be flash and finned. Smooth lines, classy finishes and attention to detail are far more valuable – as on this beautiful new model from Lexus. Image: Lexus South Africa / Quickpic

CAPE TOWN, South Africa – Lexus, a sub-brand of the giant Toyota organisation and now generally recognised as builder of some of the world’s most superb automobiles’, has brought a concept car to life.

It’s now simply the supercar, one of the most beautiful vehicles on the road

Calvyn Hamman, sales and marketing boss of Lexus SA, told the media at the June 2017 launch in Cape Town: “Lexus has turned its amazing LF-LC concept vehicle into an uncompromising production car which has not only visual impact but also ground-breaking engineering and technology.”

2017 LEXUS SC COUPE: Image: Lexus South Africa / Quickpic
2017 LEXUS LC COUPE: There’s no misinterpreting that “spindle” grille. Image: Lexus South Africa / Quickpic

The car was previewed as the LF-LC concept way back in 2012. Four years later it appeared in the metal at the 2016 Detroit auto show with a choice of V8 petrol or hybrid propulsion. Lexus SA has opted for only the petrol version with a basic price of R1 729 600 (including a four-year or 100 000km service plan).

SKILL TRANSFERS

Ferrari, a week earlier and also in Cape Town, launched it five-metre Lusso sports supercar at a price of R6 200 000 – you can do the math…

The LC is being assembled at Lexus’ Motomachi plant from whence come not only the hand-made LFA supercars but also, the automaker says, many of the skilled people involved with the LC project who are applying their expertise with carbon-fibre components and hand-finishing to the new coupe.

Final checks are done in a diode-lit, glass-walled, inspection booth to ensure a precision finish for all surfaces and panels, even paint colour, cabin quality and the operation of parts. Lexus adds: “The substantial thickness of the glass walls means the smallest abnormalities in sound and vibration can be detected.”

2017 LEXUS SC COUPE: Image: Lexus South Africa / Quickpic
2017 LEXUS LC 500 COUPE: The aforementioned “spindle” motif is also plain to see on the new sport car’s tail. Image: Lexus South Africa / Quickpic

The LF-LC’s defining low roof and hood lines have been followed by the LC, which rides on a sport suspension and 21″ forged alloy-rim wheels.

There’s no doubt about the Lexus identity: the spindle grille, dynamic character lines, L-shaped daytime running lights’, ultra-compact triple-diode headlights – each is present

A large glass panel and blacked-out rear pillars create a “floating” roof; chromed mouldings along the edges are said to echo the lines of a traditional Japanese sword. Prominent quarter-panels flare from the centre of the car; door panels are pulled inward. Very slim tail lights use mirrors to create a three-dimensional sequence of L-shaped graphics.

“Large ducts feed air into the rear wheel arches,” Lexus says, “so the airstream exits smoothly across the tyres’ sidewalls to aid straight-line stability and steering response. The underbody is almost completely smooth – even the exhaust, angled like a diffuser, plays a role in aerodynamic performance.”

A rear spoiler automatically deploys when vehicle speed rises above 80km/h.

Other design elements said to help control and direct airflow include small “but critical” fins on the front pillars, just ahead of the external mirrors. “Just a five mm difference in their size or position,” Lexus asserts, “can affect the car’s handling and slipstream noise.”

2017 LEXUS SC COUPE: Image: Lexus South Africa / Quickpic
2017 LEXUS LC 500 COUPE:  Black glass and door pillars give the impression of a floating roof. Image: Lexus South Africa / Quickpic

The heart of the car, of course, is its five-litre, 351kW / 450Nm, quad-valve V8 engine that can launch the car to 100km/h in less than 4.7 seconds. It has titanium intake and exhaust valves to permit a 7300rpm redline and performance-tuned variable valve timing and a 12.3:1 compression ratio.

LEAVE IT TO THE GEARBOX…

Lexus says its new car is “a good citizen” thanks to its ability to switch to an Atkinson cycle for fuel-efficient cruising, back to the Otto cycle for acceleration and speed.

All this tech eventually reaches the road through a 10-speed auto / paddle-shift manual transmission which, Lexus says, is smaller and lighter than some eight-speed units. Very quick downshifts are said to eliminate lag.

In auto mode the ‘box selects the best gear according to its estimation of the driver’s preferences and intentions, based not only on vehicle speed and use of the accelerator but also from driving history.

READ MORE Lexus features on Carman’s Corner

A Drive Mode selector will let the driver set the vehicle’s performance responses according to the driving situation; Sport S+ extracts the most from the powertrain and transmission shifts and fully opens the baffles in the active exhaust (more noise, folks) under acceleration.

2017 LEXUS SC COUPE: Image: Lexus South Africa / Quickpic
2017 LEXUS LC 500 COUPE: The central information/satnav screen is new, as is the tech behind it. There’s a 10-speed autobox, paddle-shifters, and four driving modes. Image: Lexus South Africa / Quickpic

Lexus designers believe a Grand Tourer should balance function and comfort, sporting intent and luxury so, they believe, the car’s intuitive layout and seating position “set the stage for spirited driving”. The driver’s backside is as close as possible to the car’s centre of gravity “where feedback from the car is the most communicative to the driver”.

(It used to be called “driving by the seat of your pants”. – Ed)

Standard shoulder bolsters help to keep the driver secure when cornering manoeuvres; optional sport seats have even more support.

2017 LEXUS SC COUPE: Image: Lexus South Africa / Quickpic
2017 LEXUS LC 500 COUPE: Most of the cabin is leather-wrapped or leather-upholstered,the finishes way upmarket, the hand-grip perhaps needed by the passenger given the car’s performance potential. Image: Lexus South Africa / Quickpic

Talking seats, Lexus says the quality and finish of the upholstery, trim materials and detailing reflect the fine craftsmanship and attention to detail for which Lexus is renowned. “It can be seen and felt,” the automaker says, “in the hand-stitching of the leather-wrapped gearshifter and the draping treatment of the Alcantara door-panel trim.”

WATCH VIDEO of Lexus’ latest supercar

The Lexus LC 500 has the brand’s latest audio, navigation and connectivity. “The multimedia package,” Lexus says, “combines a graphic user interface with software that will allow enhancements and the centre console has the latest touchpad for quick and intuitive operation.”

The LC has a wide array of standard safety features that can help the driver to avoid a collision or reduce the consequences. Standard crash mitigation equipment includes curtain, front, knee and side crash-bags and auto braking.

Standard convenience features are listed as blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping, reversing camera, diode lights, head-up windscreen info display and two-zone aircon.

AT A GLANCE…

  • Auto main-beam headlights
  • Smart-entry door releases
  • Carbon-fibre interior releases
  • ‘Dynamic Handling’ with all-wheel steering
  • Four driver’s-choice traction modes
  • Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres on 21” forged alloy rims
  • Adaptive cruising-speed control
  • Windscreen data display
  • Satellite navigation
  • Front-seats heating and ventilation
2017 LEXUS SC COUPE: Image: Lexus South Africa / Quickpic
2017 LEXUS LC 500 COUPE: Herewith lies the tail… with special air ducts, aero exhaust and typical Lexus L-shaped tail lights. Image: Lexus South Africa / Quickpic
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