This year's Straits Times Car of the Year Lexus LC500 impress the judges with its build quality, styling and X factor
The Straits Times Car of the Year 2017: Lexus hits top spot The Lexus LC500 offers classic muscle car grunt with Lexus finesse and sophistication. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

The sensational Lexus LC500 has clinched this year's Straits Times Car of the Year title - a first for the Toyota-owned marque.

Just looking at the LC, it is not hard to see why. The car is as futuristic in looks as it is in execution.

With a beefy 5-litre V8, the coupe offers classic muscle car grunt with Lexus finesse and sophistication.

Power is channelled to the rear wheels via an industry-first 10-speed automatic transmission, propelling the sleek two-door to 100kmh in 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 270kmh.

While those figures may not seem exceptional for a 5-litre V8, the LC impressed the judges with its build quality, styling and X factor. In fact, among the 10 contenders this year, the Lexus scored the highest for these three attributes.

No other contender had so many top scores.

Mr David Ting, editor of Torque, a motoring monthly published by SPH Magazines, says: "The LC is sexy, special, and simply the coolest Straits Times Car of the Year since 2015's BMW i8."

Fellow judge and freelance writer Lynn Tan was won over by the car's "multi-sensory experience".

"Its seductive and bold design is a beautiful sight to behold, its svelte silhouette and premium finishes beckon to be caressed, its V8 symphony is music to the ears and the lingering scent of burnt rubber after a bout of enthusiastic driving lures you back behind the wheel," she says.

"And having given you a taste of its wild side, it goes on to surprise you with its more subdued temperament, which proves to be every bit as delectable."

Torque senior writer Jeremy Chua was equally wowed. "This is a car that Lexus of old would never have built. It looks stunning, is fun to drive and has a sexy soundtrack too. An erotic thriller, if you ask me."

The panel of 12 judges, which consists of motoring writers from The Straits Times and Torque, awarded points based on a scoring system that scrutinises nine attributes: performance, handling, ride, build quality, economy/efficiency, ergonomics, styling, value for money and the X factor.

In total, the Lexus LC500 - the second Japanese brand to win ST Car of the Year - garnered 336 points.

It was a narrow victory, though. Only two points separated the LC500 and the runner-up, Peugeot's 3008 - a sport utility vehicle (SUV) that is extremely well put together, offers a high equipment level and drives exceedingly well. In fact, the 3008 had the highest score for ride quality among all the contenders.

Coming in a close third is The Volvo XC60 with 331 points. Clearly, this is the best premium compact crossover there is today. Its technology, design and attention to detail surpass those of pricier rivals. It is not too shoddy in the performance department, either. In fact, it took pole position for performance among this year's contenders.

It was also a closer fight among the rest of the pack this year. In fact, the difference between the average score of the top five and the rest was just 46 points. That is about the same lead that last year's winner-the Volvo S90 - had over the runner-up, the BMW M2.

This year's cream of the crop is surprising in at least one aspect. The French, which rarely have a strong showing in this annual tally, took three spots.

The Germans continued to dominate as before, with four.

And reflecting their global popularity, SUVs and crossovers made up half of the 10 cars that were shortlisted among 50 or so new models launched by authorised agents this year.

Will they continue to put up a strong showing next year? Well, we will just have to wait and see.