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Stop one step away from understanding the Lexus LC 500 coupe

Stop one step away from understanding the Lexus LC 500 coupe

The interior should be beige. With a reddishness, as I remember the LC 500 in New York of 2017. Nothing has been postponed from that exhibition — only Lexus. And somehow fragmentary: that the black fittings are successfully inscribed in a light space (although you can’t tell from the photo), that discreet metal is in place, like Alcantara. And you can feel the personality behind the special attention to detail. No wonder the LC resembles the LFA — the last Lexus that I wanted to talk about. Even produced in the same factory. And pricing is in the best of worst traditions: for a coupe, at first they charge under $ 129.000! There must be something in it. I would ride it. But the chances of a test drive are zero, I’m blacklisted.

I live under a rock and wait. It is taken well: YouTube makes noise, feathers creak. For the first year, only 3,621 cars were sold worldwide. Oops. In 2018 — 4816, but in the US demand fell by 21%. All this adds up to trouble. The car has been being upgraded, it does not help. By the end of 2019, another 2.582 coupes are scattered around the planet, and in Russia, it didn’t find even ten buyers. And it is against this backdrop that we finally meet. The vehicle registration certificate is dated September 7, 2017: blue color, fifth class, power of 477 hp. On the odometer — 16,500 km. What’s wrong with the LC?

Let me tell you right now, there will be no verdict yet. Lexus is quarantined with me on a studded Continental, summer tires are locked in the warehouse of the dealership, and without them there can be no points over i. We publish only the winter part, since there are no test drives left in the editorial stash. That is why the question: why does the LC 500 sink into the heart of the owner so much that it rarely ends up on the secondary market — is unanswerable. I can give my version after the summer part of the tests.

But on the first point, you can already speak out. Lexus is fine. Right here by and large. It will go down in history. We were lucky to look at the LC 500 without illusions, from the height of three years of production. And this is enough to see a future classic in a small-scale, failed car. The crust of reagents on the body also simplifies the task. Imagine that this is not dirt, but a 30-year-old patina.

Nothing prevents the essentially conservative Lexus from aging with dignity. It was arranged classically, designed and tuned to stay in the same hands for longer. Let’s take looks. It should be annoying, but you quickly get used to it and, like the Japanese, you focus on successful details. In a discreet cabin, you just need to learn to ignore the multimedia system. It’s difficult — it often bugs. But basically, the primitive interface is drawn in such a way as not to get into the eyes. In elegant tightness it is difficult to make a child, but you can grow it into something worthwhile. Moreover, the boarding formula 2+2 forms a sober assessment of the decorative role of the passenger.

The five-liter aspirated V8 engine is timeless. It’s vociferous, torquey, and revolutioning. Automatic gearbox almost unmistakably controls the temperament of the V8, being at operating temperature. They conflict only on cold and with illogical fractional alternating loads: breaking-gas-breaking-gas. Well, even in manual mode, the box includes such protection from a fool that it’s even somehow insulting.

I don’t presume to judge the limiting possibilities, we didn’t reach normal measurements. But in winter they are no longer needed. If suddenly some kind of acceleration is hard, the two-ton LC generously compensates for the lack of dynamics with sound. And growls so sincerely that it doesn’t seem enough. Lexus is nontoxically powerful for the driver, but keeps the studded tires in constant shape. And trains in you the skill of subtle commands. To effectively accelerate without waking up the traction control, you need a jeweler’s work on the gas.

The chassis in winter is demanding and charming. I like its versatility. Here is the accuracy of responses to rare impulses, and appropriate aggression in response to rudeness, and the ability to forgive random mistakes. If you want,  you can balance on the verge of slipping, enjoying its sharpness as well as boldly break, parry, pull gas. Although Lexus does not encourage carelessness. It allows a lot, but it can also punish, as I was convinced.

The steering effort is well chosen. It is light enough to be operated with one hand in urban conditions, and does not resist quick rotations to correct skids. At the same time, it is moderately weighty so as not to lose touch with what is happening. During the winter, I never made a mistake when choosing the angle of rotation of the steering wheel at the entrance to the arc, I didn’t correct the trajectory due to the fault of the car, and, roughly speaking, only from the “Technique” section did I learn about the additional gearbox of the front steering mechanism that changes the gear ratio.

Only the full controllability is slightly unnatural. At the start of a superelevation, there is a fleeting discontinuity as the Lexus compensates for understeer by deflecting the drive wheels. It feels like it doesn’t know how to preemptively steer the rear axle, as, say, Porsche does, but spends a split second choosing the angle based on the situation. It fixes the difference in angular speeds, correlates it with accelerometer readings, steering wheel turn, throttle position… You can feel the moment when the LC 500 finishes counting and starts correcting the position. Part of the tension focused on the front outer wheel, as it were, passes to the rear, and the car “neutralizes”.

The script where the slight resistance of the front at the entrance is replaced by a turn is always the same and predictable. Therefore, the vestibular system does not conflict with such a strategy. Coupe always taxis a moment before you decide to help it. In addition, the LC 500 is clearer the higher the load. Apparently, the role of mechatronics decreases with increasing speed, lateral forces and slip angles. In extreme conditions and on the ears, the Lexus is as natural as possible. But will this balance be preserved with the transition to a summer Run Flat with a larger landing diameter?

Most likely, with an increase in adherence, already noticeable rolls will come out on dry land, and the brakes may give up. The weight is two tons with a driver. The Lexus is heavier than the larger BMW M850i turbocharged four-wheel-drive coupe. And the roar of spikes on the asphalt that fills the cabin says that several tens of extra pounds were not used for soundproofing. Seeing the LC 500 on the lift, I cease to be surprised: a car with an armored belly cannot be light. Whether a sports car needs steel protection is a rhetorical question for me. Lexus can be hung on a curb without consequences. And what about the “eight”?

With all the sympathy for the conservative Lexus, I can not call it old school. Rip off the aluminum facing so that the design does not affect the assessment, strip the interior to the metal, leaving the steering wheel with pedals and the chair — you still feel the modern delicacy of the mechanisms. By dividing Toyota history into before and after the LFA, you will inevitably place the LC 500 on the right side of the timeline. However, ask you to describe how a Lexus drives, and you will throw out the last ten years of the auto industry and return to the eight-cylinder Europeans of the late 2000s.

Lexus is similar to AMG Mercedes before they spoiled by playing sports, and at the same time resembles the previous M5, if equipped with an E92 aspirated engine. That is, on the one hand, the LC 500 was late for a couple of five-year plans, on the other hand, it is relevant, because we currently lack such cars. Everything around has sharpened, toughened, accelerated, and the LC is in a state of that blissful relaxation, which in 2020 is remembered with nostalgia.

And it’s also a bit of the previous Continental GT: Lexus also surprises with the discrepancy between a glamorous image and a tight ride. Chassis busily shakes on all types of bumps. Even from a smooth road, small vibrations get into the steering wheel and seat. There is no cheapness in paying too much attention to the quality of the pavement, but there is no special benefit either, at least on winter tires that blur reactions. Of course, we owe a decent relationship with the Lexus, the ability to savor the transients, including a stiffer suspension. However, judging by the latest modernization program, comfort is more important to the consumer. The shock absorbers will be softened.

The article is focused more on the second hand. However, after the BMW two-door G8 configurator, even the new Lexus doesn’t seem insanely overpriced. The all-wheel drive of the eighth series is more dynamic, quieter and has a more spacious trunk, but for the same money, I think, it does not represent the slightest historical value. In Lexus, despite the size and weight, there is something from more compact and evil sports cars like the base Mercedes GT or the niche Jaguar F-type. However, this may turn off someone who is looking for a classic Gran Turismo in the LC 500.

I see an elephant in the room, but it doesn’t really bother me that the LC 500 costs like an all-wheel drive 450-horsepower Carrera 4S. For starters, customers of these brands live in parallel worlds. Even if a sports car and a GT are pushed together by the efforts of a journalist or a couch critic, the outcome is not unambiguous. The Porsche 992 is more versatile and, judging by the European resale, holds the resale price better. However, the new 911 is a mass product compared to the LC. Lexus is more eventful, while Carrera lacks zest off the race track.

Finally, if we raise the topic of investment at all, only LC with Carrera have at least some collection prospects. Until recently, we were waiting for the 600-horsepower twin-supercharged LC F coupe, and now more and more people are talking about the Japanese abandonment of V8 engines. Even if that doesn’t happen until 2023, the eight-cylinder coupes are unlikely to exceed 15,000 copies. I don’t know if buyers who have invested in LC will have the patience, but I think that the cars of the first three years of production will be the most in demand among connoisseurs.

This is a translation. You can read the original here: https://www.drive.ru/test-drive/lexus/5eb2c7c0ec05c4861900002e.html

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