2018 Lexus LC 500h first driving impressions at Circuit of the Americas

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Not since the launch of the Lexus LFA have I been star struck by seeing a Lexus in person. Not to say that Lexus doesn’t make attractive looking cars, because they do, but every now and then they build something that’s just the right amount of – extra. Every journalist at the 2017 Texas Auto Round Up wanted a turn in the 2018 Lexus LC 500h. It was definitely the most attention grabbing vehicle out of the bunch. A notable feat considering it was in the same line as the 2017 Mercedes AMG GT-S and colorful representations from FCA like the Challenger T/A 392 and Alfa Romeo Giulia.

I think the reason why the LC 500h is such a head turner is because it looks out of place in time. As if Lexus went a few years into the future and plucked it back to 2017 to foreshadow what lays ahead in the not too distant future. While taking notes on the vehicle I overheard a bystander, not a journalist, make a comment on the LC 500h that left me pondering. He said the car looked “too futuristic” and I had no idea what that meant. It’s one thing to call a car “old fashioned” but too futuristic? That’s sort of like saying a smart phone is too capable, a food that is too satisfying, or a song that’s too catchy. Time waits for no one so being ahead of it seems like a good thing, but that’s just me.

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2018 Lexus LC 500h specifications and features

The model we tested was the LC 500h, the hybrid V6 version. There is the LC 500 which carries a 5.0 V8 making 471 horsepower. The hybrid only makes a combined power output of 354 horsepower, with 295 hp coming from the V6 and the other 100 hp from electric motors. Both will do 0-60 in the 5 second area with a top speed of 155 mph.

Those that have tested both versions of the LC 500 have stated that these cars are not as fast as its equivalent competitors (BMW i8, Aston Martin Vantage, or Mercedes SL 550) but that’s okay. This car wasn’t built to smoke the competition on the track. It was built to drive in the spirit of Frank Sinatra, “My Way.”

The out of this era body is made up of a cocktail of different lightweight materials from carbon fiber trunk lid to an aluminum hood, fenders, and doors. Yet, the LC 500h’s weight tips the scales at a heavyweight sum of over 4,400 pounds! Both versions of the LC 500 feed the power through Lexus’ 10-speed automatic transmission.

The gearing is not what one would expect. With 10 gears you would think your hands would be constantly flicking the paddle shifters as you go along the track. Instead, the gears have long strides so you can stretch each gear like a 4-speed. In automatic mode, being a Lexus, it’s smooth as silk under normal, legal, driving speeds.

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How does the 2018 Lexus LC 500h drive?

I had to wait until the second day of the event to get behind the wheel of the 2018 Lexus LC 500h. Fellow journalist Natan Tazelaar and I literally ran out to the car at the end of the morning driver’s meeting. We jumped in, and took off before even checking with the Lexus rep. (Sorry).

Of all the vehicles I drove at the event this was the only one I drove hard around the track in total comfort. I wasn’t trying to set a hot lap I was just taking it through its paces. The seats felt plush and I was able to feel myself sinking, slightly, into them like a memory foam mattress.

The LC 500h is no slow poke, but it’s no LFA either. I certainly didn’t’ feel like I was blazing a hot lap, and it won’t smoke its rear tires off the line no matter how hard you stand on it.  However, it cornered flat through the fast turns. A surreal sensation to be driving a machine that looks like it’s going 120 mph standing still on a race track and being completely relaxed just cruising through the slalom course and throwing into tight chicanes at Circuit of the Americas. It felt like I should have been listening to music while testing it. It’s a true GT car.

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2018 Lexus LC 500h: The GT car for the emotionally secure

The 2018 Lexus LC 500h is a personal sports car. It’s a super model with modesty. It’s not out to prove anything or win a title. All it wants to do is look good while delivering a smooth ride as a grand touring sports coupe. It’s for the driver who takes joy in long legged road trips through scenic routes, and taking Instagram photos.

Jesus R. Garcia
the authorJesus R. Garcia
Jesus R. Garcia is an automotive journalist and contributor to Future Motoring. He's a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association.

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