Anyone following the North American International Auto Show this past week in Detroit saw a lot of cool concepts and technology being introduced to the public. But if you were there, there was one car—and one car alone, really—that stole the attention of just about everyone: Lexus’ new LC 500 luxury coupe.
Masterfully engineered and wickedly tuned to haul ass, the LC 500 was presented to the press as the blueprint for a wide-scale shift in Lexus’ design strategy. The boring luxury car your parents bought for dependability and comfort just birthed a child straight from the depths of Hades, and it looks like it’s here to bring the heat.
The LC 500 is based off the design of Lexus’ LF-LC concept, first presented 2012, right here in Detroit. The LF-LC blew everyone away, but many were skeptical that it could ever be built into a real-life production car… Until now.
Before the unveil, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda stood in front of a packed room of journalists, bloggers, and media professionals from all over the world, and explained that the LC 500 wasn’t just a fancy concept car or a wild showing of pomp and muscle, but a real-deal production car, and the result of disappointing feedback from critics about how Lexus cars are well-made, but boring to drive.
In his speech, Toyoda made it very clear that, from this moment forward, Lexus would be heading in a new, more “emotional,” direction.
The LC 500’s exterior design is bold and aggressive, but smooth and refined, and appears exceptionally aerodynamic. The spindle grill edges out and slopes downward into the front bumper. Then it juts out, almost like a front bumper splitter seen on race or drift cars. The sloped roof slides down into an exceptionally low hood, which curves perfectly into the LC 500’s angular, aggressive-looking headlight assembly. Several functional vents also play a key roll in the design and help keep the LC 500 headed in the right direction.
Oh, and she sits on beautiful 20-inch forged aluminum wheels. Donk!
The interior (which also won this year’s Eye on Design award for Best Interior) is sleek and minimalistic, and according to Lexus Chief Designer Tadao Mori, who sat down with Cool Material after the reveal on Monday, was designed with utility and purpose in mind.
“We wanted to focus more on emotional driving, so the steering wheel has accessible paddle shifters, and the gauges are simple and smaller,” he said. “Sometimes cars have all these screens and tall, big navigation systems. We wanted the driver to be able to focus on the world outside—on driving.”
Mori explained that everything is within the immediate vicinity of the driver, so that he or she can concentrate on what’s most important: driving.
Inside and out, the LC 500 was designed to be gorgeous, and offer people a driving experience unlike anything else.
“If you think about the view the driver has outside the front windshield, most drivers only see the hood of the car and the world outside,” said Lexus’ Vice President of Marketing Brian Smith, who also sat down with Cool Material after the reveal. “The team went ahead and designed the front of the car from the driver’s view inside the cock pit, to look exciting and dynamic and aggressive. The car doesn’t just look beautiful to people from the outside, it looks beautiful from the driver seat, too!”
As far as go-fast components are concerned, the LC 500 is powered by a high-revving 467-horsepower 5.0 liter V8 motor (the same from the RC F and GS F models), which is mated to a newly developed 10-speed automatic transmission, the first of its kind ever used in any luxury car.
The real-wheel-drive LC 500, which is speculated to start around $100,000, can do 0-60 in under 4.5 seconds, and we’ve heard extensive rumors that they’re also testing a twin turbo V8 model, leading into production.
Lexus’ chassis for the LC 500 is revolutionary, and according to the LC 500’s Chief Engineer Koji Sato, will serve as the company’s blueprint for Lexus’ future RWD luxury models. The drivetrain is located behind the front axle, and the body is wider and lower to the ground to provide added stability. The redistribution of weight was so carefully considered during the LC 500’s design that, as with most race cars and rally cars, the battery in this luxury coupe has been relocated to the trunk. Lexus engineered the stiffest unibody the brand has ever produced, utilizing lightweight, high-strength steel throughout.
But don’t be mistaken: This car still drives and feels like a Lexus. The only difference is that this dog has just as much bite as it does bark.