Lexus Sports Car
Even Lexus’s language masks its intent with the LC500. The company is careful not to call this 2+2 a sports car, instead using descriptors such as “grand touring coupe” and “luxury sports coupe.” But the LC is studded with serious performance-car bona fides such as an engine that sits fully aft of the front-axle centerline, an active rear spoiler, an available carbon-fiber roof, even carbon-fiber inner-door panels and a composite trunk floor. Make no mistake: This is Lexus’s new North Star, one far better positioned to influence the lineup than the LFA. It points to the fact that this is a company on the verge of major change.
Lexus Sports Car
Lexus isn’t mincing words when it comes to the LC500’s skeleton, calling it an “all-new, rear-wheel-drive architecture that does not share components or design ideology with any current Lexus platform.” It will, however, serve as the blueprint for the brand’s future front-engine, rear-drive vehicles. Lexus claims that it is the most structurally rigid unibody the company has ever produced, with more high-strength steel than in any of its vehicles and stiffness exceeding even that of the LFA. Meanwhile, the bumper beams, the front suspension-mount reinforcements, and most of the suspension links are aluminum, as are the door skins. Expect a curb weight right around two tons, with a rear-mounted battery doing its part to limit the nose’s load to 52 percent.
Lexus Sports Car
Now, Lexus looks to alter the industry again, returning to the racing world in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. With two Lexus RC F GT3 cars, our sights are not set on merely taking part—we are here to etch our name in the record books and continue to push the limits of Lexus performance on the track.
Lexus Sports Car
The last time Lexus ran a supercar up its flagpole, people’s heads exploded. Well, the 500 LFA drivers’ heads did, but the rest of the 7 billion earthlings were merely confused. It was hard to see how the carbon-fiber tub or 9000-rpm 72-degree V-10 were going to trickle down to ES350s and RX hybrids. So this time, Lexus is cloaking its hi-po bellwether in, um, sheep’s clothing.
Lexus Sports Car
We expect that one version will also use the LC500’s new 10-speed trans, an automatic of Lexus’s own design. The high-performance intent is on full display here, too, as it uses the lightest, smallest-diameter torque converter ever used in a Lexus. The company claims a zero-to-60 time of 4.5 seconds for the LC500, which we assume to be conservative by at least a couple of tenths.
Lexus Sports Car
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The 2018 Lexus LC500 and LC500h form Lexus’s first full-size, full-lux coupe lineup since the SC430 jelly bean disappeared in 2010. The LC500s have no retractable metal roof, no third or fourth doors and no bastardization of the classic front-engine, rear drive grand-touring concept, unless you count the hybrid option as such. The most unconventional thing about them is a new “multi-stage shift device” that moves hybrid dynamics in the right direction. Or maybe it’s the in-your-face styling from the LF-LC concept.
Lexus High Performance marks a shift in the natural order. Flawless craftsmanship. Striking design. Superior engineering. Announcing the arrival of a performance vehicle with power, control and zero compromise that puts the entire category on notice. With an impressive line of performance vehicles, including the GS F, RC F and the incomparable new LC 500—the highest expressions of performance from Lexus.
Yes, the multi-stage shift device works counter to the essential justification for a CVT, which is efficiency. Yet Lexus claims it's gotten it all back and more. At steady road speed it can keep the engine at optimal rev speed without suffering a failure to accelerate if the driver floors it, and the 500h has a more efficient final drive ratio than previous Lexus hybrids. It should deliver the same 20 percent fuel-economy advantage in city operation.
As a counterpart to the recently evolved segment of shapelier but less practical SUV “coupes,” another contrarian group of vehicles has cropped up at the opposite end of the spectrum: luxury two-doors with only moderately powerful engines. While they may look like sporty grand tourers, they’re missing a key ingredient—power—to really call them that. The Lexus RC Turbo coupe, badged as the RC200t, is one of the latest examples, having joined the lineup for the 2016 model year. Following in the turbo path of the Lexus IS sedan, it’s the cheapest model in the RC lineup, and it shares its small forced-induction four-cylinder with the NX, IS, and GS.
That’s small potatoes for a brand that has sold 122,000 cars through November this calendar year. The LC is the sixth coupe Lexus has offered through its 27 years, including the LFA and current RC, but it’s the first developed entirely under the direction of Toyota president Akio Toyoda. Toyoda also happens to be Lexus’s chief brand officer, rated a master driver, and purveyor of the mantra “no boring cars.”
The RC coupe brings sexy back to Lexus, with a blend of style and performance that has been lacking in the brand’s recent offerings. The RC200t offers a 241-hp turbo four with rear-drive and an eight-speed automatic. The RC300 has a 255-hp V-6 and all-wheel drive with a six-speed automatic; the RC350 has a 306-hp V-6 and rear-drive with an eight-speed automatic; all-wheel drive is optional and has a six-speed automatic. The F Sport adds adaptive dampers, special gauges and interior trim. Jump to Instrumented Test – 2017 Lexus RC200t
Even though Lexus shies away from calling the LC500 a sports car, the company does say the driver’s hip point was “engineered to be as close as possible to the vehicle’s center of gravity.” The goal is to make the dynamic feedback clear, and chief engineer Koji Sato says his team spent “more than triple” the usual amount of time perfecting the LC500’s road feel.
If you loved the LF-LC show car, introduced to acclaim at 2012 Detroit auto show, then you’re going to love the LC500, because the road car is as true to its design concept as any we recall. The LC500’s proportions are a bit different, yes, but you’ll need a tape measure to be sure. All the themes—the long, low hood, low horizontal axis and big, full-wrap wheel arches—remain, at considerable expense to Lexus. Chief Engineer Koji Sato says the LC500 required an unprecedented level of give and take between its design and engineering teams. It also required development of downsized lighting components, an unusual double-jointed front suspension and a pedestrian detection system with a compression-loaded, pop-up hood that maintains pedestrian-impact standards.
The rest of the RC200t’s driving manners are competent and agreeable. The steering is nicely weighted, not too heavy or too light, and the car turns in eagerly. The RC pulled 0.88 g on the skidpad, which is strong considering its all-season tires, although subpar against the performance-tire set. But the car is composed in corners, holding an intended line and communicating grip loss progressively. Lexus’s reputation for a comfortable and quiet ride rings true here, as the RC rolls over bumps and broken pavement all but undisturbed.
The Lexus RC200t is for budget-conscious luxury buyers seeking visual rather than driving excitement. It looks fast and has an upscale badge, but it lacks overtly sporting tendencies. It has the style of a sports coupe, but it’s built more for comfort.
GET LOW — Keeping a car’s mass close to the ground and centrally located fosters agility. To that end, Lexus focused on keeping the LC500’s occupants low, the wheels out at the corners, and the engine behind the front-axle centerline.
Born from passion, our decade-long mission to create the ultimate driver’s car led us to the iconic LFA supercar. A tour de force, it set a new standard in the world of high performance and inspired the future of Lexus performance.
Underneath, the LC’s front suspension uses to two upper and two lower double-jointed control arms. This expensive-looking setup was developed foremost to maintain the show car’s low hood, though Sato says it also allows more finite, subtle reaction to driver input or road surface. The rear suspension applies a more conventional multi-link arrangement, with coil springs and electronically managed adaptive shocks all ‘round. Chassis electronics are identical to those in the LFA, and tuning is based on what Lexus learned with its exotic.