Lexus has launched its flagship performance coupe, the 2018 LC flagship performance coupe, a concept car come to life. The Lexus LC combines stunning design, scintillating performance, long-distance comfort and premium craftsmanship to join an elite group of international grand touring coupes.
Brian Joss – The Lexus LC makes the strongest statement yet about the brand’s future direction. Previewed by the LF-LC concept in 2012, the Lexus LC debuted as a production model at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. While available in both petrol and hybrid in other global markets, only the V8-powered petrol derivative is confirmed for South Afric, says Calvyn Hamman, Sales and Marketing Senior Vice president of Lexus South Africa.
Toyota Motor Corporation president, Akio Toyoda, who is also Chief Branding Officer and master driver for Lexus, inspired development of the LC. Focused on offering more emotional and exciting vehicles for global markets, he called for a flagship production coupe echoing the spirit of the hand-built Lexus LFA supercar and delivering the visual impact of the Lexus LF-LC concept.
The LC is built at Lexus’ Motomachi plant, famously home to production of the hand-crafted LFA supercar. The factory’s layout and facilities have been tailored to the production of the LC, to ensure the highest quality levels.
Many of the Takumi and skilled workers who built the LFA transferred to the LC project, bringing with them a wealth of knowledge and experience, particularly in areas such as the handling of carbon fibre components and hand-finishing.
The new production line at Motomachi has a pure white finish from floor to ceiling to create an environment that helps the team members focus on their work. Each person will spend as much as 20 minutes working on every car, combining hand and eye skills with the use of tablet devices to check and re-check the quality of each process. Skills – both mental and technical – are constantly developed to support a “no compromise” mindset when it comes to achieving Lexus’ rigorous quality standards.
Debuting at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the Lexus LF-LC was a true concept, not a thinly disguised pre-production prototype. The LF-LC won the EyesOn Design award for Concept Car and stirred many to question whether Lexus would build it. Earlier this year, Car Design of the Year Awards in Geneva recognised the LC 500 as 2016 Production Car Design of the Year.
Immediately identifiable as a Lexus thanks to its hallmark spindle grille and dynamic character lines, the 2018 LC represents the most passionate expression of the brand’s design direction. The grille itself features a unique mesh texture that changes visual tension as it spreads across the front of the car. Independent L-shaped daytime running lights beneath new ultra-compact Triple LED headlamps create the distinctive LC front lighting signature. Functional venting serves aerodynamic stability and cooling.
The combination of a large glass panel and blacked-out rear pillars creates a floating roof appearance, and chrome-plated moldings along the edges, which echo the lines of a traditional Japanese sword, amplify the effect.
As much as Lexus sought to carry forward the sensuous styling of the LF-LC concept into the production LC, it also worked to introduce a high level of aerodynamic performance to improve the coupe’s handling stability and ride quality and suppress wind noise.
The aim was to achieve a smooth, unbroken front to rear airflow both over and beneath the body. Design elements that help control and direct the airflow include small but critical aero stabilising fins on the front pillars, just forward of the door mirrors. Just a 5mm difference in their size or position can affect the car’s handling and level of wind noise.
The treatment of the underbody has been given equally close attention, with an almost completely smooth finish. Parts are aligned with the aero line, which kicks up towards the rear – notably the silencer is angled upwards, like a diffuser.
Upon startup, exhaling through the variable Active Exhaust, the 5-litre naturally aspirated V8 issues a clarion call to driving enthusiasts. Based on the engine in the Lexus RC F high-performance models, the LC 500 version raises the output to 351kW and 450Nm of peak torque. The LC 500 can sprint from zero to 100km/h in less than 4.7 seconds.
Under acceleration, the LC 500 V8 reveals its character in a continuously rising power curve, with the maximum power of 351kW developed at 7,100rpm and the torque peak of 540Nm at 4,800rpm. The fast-revving V8 issues a stunning soundtrack amplified by a special resonance tube connecting the intake to the firewall, plus a standard Active Exhaust that rumbles and roars like a high-performance GT should. The driver can adjust the natural exhaust sound level via the Drive Mode Select system.
Lexus considers the sound of the engine to be an important contributor to delivering genuinely multi-sensory driving pleasure, and in the new LC Lexus has taken great steps to achieve truly emotional engine sound. In fact, engineers have worked to combine the sounds produced both by the air intake system at the front and the exhaust system at the rear to create what they describe as a “concert hall” effect inside the cabin, both as the car gains speed and slows down.
The Lexus LC 500 debuts the first 10-speed automatic transmission for a luxury automobile. Smaller and lighter than some 8-speed units, this new transmission executes shifts at speeds rivaling dual-clutch transmissions, yet with the seamless performance and smoothness of a torque converter automatic. Very quick downshifts eliminate lag in G response.
The LC 500 exhibits razor-sharp reflexes, exceptional handling balance and rock-solid stability. Rock solid could also describe the stiffest unibody Lexus has ever produced. The strategic use of lightweight, high-strength steels yield a structure that is more resistant to twisting forces than even the exotic, carbon fibre-intensive LFA supercar.
Comfort and luxury are no less thorough. The LC’s exclusive seats feel as good as they look, with a new two-part construction technique where the main part of the seatback drapes the over the shoulder area and then wraps around the seat back. Bolsters in the shoulder area help hold the driver securely in cornering manoeuvres, and the available sports seats feature even more substantial bolsters.
The Lexus LC 500 cockpit artfully integrates the brand’s latest audio, navigation and connectivity technologies, making them easily accessible. The new Lexus Multimedia package combines an inviting graphic user interface with software that enables future enhancements, and the centre console features the latest-generation Remote Touch Interface touchpad control, with quick and intuitive operation.
As thrilling as the LC sounds from the outside, Lexus also ensured that sounds inside the cabin would delight those with a fine ear for musical detail. Lexus’ industry-exclusive 15-year partnership with Mark Levinson has yielded a reference-quality 13-speaker system tailored to the LC cabin.
Clari-Fi music restoration technology enhances playback by automatically analysing and improving the sound quality of compressed, digitised music sources.
The LC is equipped with an array of standard safety features that can help the driver avoid an accident, or help lessen the consequences of a collision. Standard safety specification include curtain, front, knee and side airbags, as well as Pre-Crash System (Brake Synchronised).
There is also a host of standard convenience features, including Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Standard-With Rear Cross Traffic Alert; Lane Keeping Assist and reversing camera; LED lighting, large colour head-up display and two-zone climate control.