the peterborough examiner Thursday, September 7, 2017
Lexus LC 500h frugal, seductive
Road Test: 2018 Lexus LC 500h
Graeme Fletcher Driving.ca In 2012, Lexus debuted the LF-LC concept. It was greeted warmly and so it went from piein-the-sky ? at the time, Lexus said it would not be produced ? to reality in short order. Where the LC differs from so many conceptto-production cars is the finished coupe holds true to the concept. It has a striking style and the sort of road presence Lexus is simply not known for; the LC drew eyes to it wherever it roamed. Lexus offers two different versions of the LC 500. The first features a 5.0-litre V8 that produces 471 horsepower and 398 poundfeet of torque at 4,800 rpm. The second is the LC 500h. Some will argue that having a 3.5-L V6 engine ? good for 295 hp ? plus two electric motors and a continuously variable transmission that works a regular four-speed automatic is not the sort of stuff that makes your pulse quicken. In this case, they?d be wrong. The combination produces a net system output of 354 hp. The engine is smooth and loves to rev, the transmission works to give 10 speeds and the electric side gets its power from a lithium-ion battery. The transition between the gas, electric and gas/electric modes is seamless to the point that few are better. The key difference between the two LC models boils down to fuel consumption. Where the V8 consumes a posted average of 12.2 L/100 kilometres, the hybrid sips an average of just 8.0 L/100 km. During the week, the LC 500h delivered an overall economy of 9.4 L/100 km, which is outstanding for a performance car that was driven with purpose. Interestingly, the fuel economy advantage does not make the LC 500h feel like it?s lacking. It takes five seconds to reach 100 km/h from a standstill, which is just 0.3 seconds slower than the 5.0-L V8 version. The hybrid also completes the more important 80-to- 120 km/h passing move in a rapid 4.3 seconds. When it comes to the ride and handling, the LC cedes nothing to its peers. The rear-drive hybrid comes with an adaptive suspension, active four-wheel steering and a Torsen limited-slip differential. The combination saw it hoon through a series of switchbacks as well as just about anything out there. The turn-in is crisp, the damping caters to divergent driving needs and, in somewhat of a surprise, the hybrid still loves to wag its tail in spite of the P275/35R21 tires, so it retains the all-important fun factor. It is a delight to drive quickly, but it is equally at home cruising the highway. And the brake pedal, unlike in so many hybrids, is flawless. It is crisp under foot and easily modulated. Most of the mechanicals can be tweaked to suit the tone of the drive. Forget Eco, as it emphasizes economy to the point the LC feels blunt. Comfort is perfect for a long highway cruise and Normal is the right choice for everyday driving. When the drive is kicked up a couple of notches, pick one of the two sport modes; they ramp things up progressively. There is an Individual mode, but frankly, it proved to be redundant. The cabin picks up where the exterior styling leaves off and it is a thing of beauty, for the most part. Forget any notion the LC is
Type of vehicle: Luxury coupe Engine: 3.5-L V6 engine/ electric motor/battery Power: 354 hp (net) Transmission: CVT, four-speed automatic Brakes: Four-wheel disc with ABS Tires: P245/40R21 front, P275/35R21 rear Price: $118,100 base/$118,100 as tested Destination charge: $2,045 Natural Resources Canada fuel economy (L/100 km): 8.9 city, 7.0 highway a two-plus-two; there is a back seat, but it has a paucity of legroom, and headroom for anyone over five-foot-six needs a Jetsonlike bubble in the rear windshield to accommodate them. The back seat does, however, provide some needed additional storage space. The trunk is shallow and rated at 132 L, which is just enough for a pair of roller-type carry-on suitcases. All of this might be considered damning, were it not for the fact this car is all about ferrying two riders around in luxury. The materials are first rate, with leather or suede covering the surfaces and there?s an obvious attention to detail, an example being the magnesium paddle shifters. Then there?s the driving environment. The front-seat support is excellent, the driving position likewise and, for a coupe, the sightlines are clean and uncluttered. The rear-view camera certainly helps. It also has all the right equipment, up to and including a head-up display. The instrumentation is novel. It is configurable, as is becoming the norm today, but in a different way. Pressing a button on the steering wheels sees the central speedometer slide to the right to reveal an active pictogram that shows how the power sources are interacting. To the right of that and at the top of the centre stack is the large glassed-in screen that houses the infotainment, apps, navigation and vehicle setup functions. The different facets are accessed through Lexus?s Remote Touch system. It has radio controls with three hard buttons for certain functions, and a square touch-sensitive pad. The latter is finicky at first, but a little time using it does make life easier. Even then, to describe it as intuitive would be wrong. Once too staid for its own good, Lexus has blossomed and now has a luxury coupe that can play with the big boys. The LC 500h has concept-car looks, a lavishly luxurious interior and the performance to back up its style. And the hybrid does all of this without killing your wallet the gas pump.