Lexus LC packages sporty performance with lusciousness and refinement
Lexus LC500: Silky moves The LC500 scores in the looks department. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Memos may have been mixed up at Toyota Motors' Lexus division. The LS flagship limo unveiled recently has a distinctively sporty resonance and ride, while the LC two-door coupe you see here is too cocooned for a sportscar.

Or it could all be part of a plan to dispense with convention and do something that is quite different.

Well, the LC500 is certainly different. While it conforms to the general coupe outline, it comes close to nothing out there. It is a stunningly beautiful car which makes even the exotic Lexus LFA look plain. Visually, the car is a perfect 10.

Flush door handles swivel out when pressed. As expected of Lexus, the mechanism is smooth and robust. Inside, a sumptuous cabin awaits. Everything is leather-lined, but done so exquisitely and elegantly and without a hint of ostentatiousness.

The cockpit exudes the simplicity of a ryokan, with the fascia, centre console and armrest presented functionally, without fuss or frills. Compared with the LS' intricate interior, the LC is minimalist. Yet, it is no less pleasing.

A good thing, especially for a sportscar. The last thing a driving enthusiast wants is distraction.

The LC500 is the range-topper, powered by a creamy naturally aspirated 5-litre V8 which begs to be revved. It makes 470bhp at a heady 7,100rpm, and 540Nm from 4,800rpm.

While those numbers look modest in today's turbocharged world, they do not convey the richly textured performance of a big capacity non-turbo V8.

Response to throttle input comes with finer granularity, which translates to an extremely linear and predictable acceleration pattern.

Sudden changes in pedal pressure will not upset the car's calm composure one bit.

Its 10-speed auto transmission is quick to match changes in revs, but offers little in terms of emotional thrill. It moves through the cogs so seamlessly that changes are often missed.

This brings us to the LC's muted vocals. For a burly V8, it is way too quiet inside. The car is over-insulated on this front. Outside, it sounds suitably sportier.

Even in Sport+ mode, you have to strain your ears to make out the throttle blips which accompany downshifts.

The LS limousine, on the other hand, seems to permit more engine sound to enter the cabin.

The LC surprises, too, with its cushy ride. The car literally glides over tarmac imperfections. I imagine it a little soft for the track, but it is great for daily commutes.

The car is effortless to pilot, offering good visibility, neat turn-ins and a steering that is tight and ideally weighted for most situations.

In terms of handling behaviour, it is the closest thing in the Lexus line-up to the LFA supercar, even if it is a tad tamer than the racy Lexus RC F as far as raw performance goes.

Comfort-wise, it ranks higher than grand tourers of its size. The only inconvenience lies with access to the second row, which is hampered by front seatbelts which are buckled to the front seats.

It is also a thirsty car, averaging 18 litres/ 100km.

In short, the LC is a great-looking car inside and out. It offers lots of comfort and a good measure of driving pleasure. But it misses a note in the aural department.

Perhaps the upcoming LC F will fix this.