Wednesday, September 27, 2023
Reviews 2021 Lexus LC 500 Review: What Happens When There’s No Formula

2021 Lexus LC 500 Review: What Happens When There’s No Formula

The Lexus LC 500 is what happens when Toyota’s luxury brand over-thinks and over designs

  • Base price for the 2021 Lexus LC 500 is of $103,550 in Canada, $92,950 in the US.

  • Also available are the LC 500h Hybrid and LC 500 Convertible.

  • This car is impressive but it answers no questions.

It’s quite obviously not that easy to build flagship sports coupes – ask Lexus and Acura. Toyota’s luxury make has even less experience in the matter than Honda’s premium arm which, in a way forgives it for designing and building the Lexus LC 500 as they have.

Unlike most upscale brands, and this includes Acura, Lexus has never created a formula, a recipe to which all subsequent vehicles need to adhere. Acura had created an award-winning, highly successful DNA for its supercars however they blew it. Lexus, on the other hand, never has. The LFA came out of left field, made no sense whatsoever but turned out to be nothing short of great. Before it, the closest Lexus got to premium sports coupe territory was the SC in all its variations.

2021 Lexus LC 500 | Photo: Olivier Delorme

It’s too unique

Thus, the Lexus LC could be just about anything Toyota’s designers and engineers wanted it to be. And what it turned out to be is an extremely luxurious, ultra-designed, over-thought-out premium GT that hits nearly every target but has failed in many ways – much like the NSX.

The issues with the 2021 Lexus LC are numerous but boil down to a single point: It’s a Lexus. Thing is, only Lexus could come up with this car and as such is trapped. In contrast, the LFA is an LFA before being a Lexus. And Lexus is not a performance brand, it doesn’t have nor offer any standout performance technologies (Toyota and GR, however…) and there’s no history. It’s just different. And different isn’t entirely desirable here.

2021 Lexus LC 500 | Photo: Olivier Delorme

Styled like a concept

In reality, the Lexus LC 500 is sublime, refined, incredible to be around, in, and to drive. The car’s design is more polarizing than I thought. I for one love the concept look however a number of people thought the design was far too busy and not quite attractive – to each their own. In any regard, kudos to Lexus for producing this car.

If the LC 500’s exterior looks are debatable, all arguments cease once onboard. Like the outer shell, the cabin is a combination of textures, materials, all intertwined through various shapes and surfaces. Once more, only Lexus (this side of Bentley and Rolls-Royce) would through the trouble of incorporating grab- and door-handles into large single pieces of Alcantara. The finished product is unlike anything you’ll find in any other car in the same price range.

The dashboard’s layout is contemporary and beautifully crafted. Sadly, it does suffer from the presence of Lexus’ insufferable Remote Connect track-pad-type controller. It’s terrible and distracting. Thankfully, the incredibly comfortable Alcantara/leather sport seats (as part of the Performance package) whisk away the stresses of dealing with the infotainment despite its lovely 10.3-inch display.

2021 Lexus LC 500 | Photo: Olivier Delorme

Angry V8 wrapped in velvet

The 2021 Lexus LC 500’s piece de resistance is its naturally-aspirated 5.0-litre V8. As essentially the last of its kind in the segment and price-range, the 5.0-litre boasts 471 horsepower and 398 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,800 rpm. With the attached 10-speed automatic transmission sending the power to the rear wheels, the LC will hit 60 mph from not in a very respectable 4.4 seconds.

The best part about hammering the throttle isn’t the power though the response is lag-free and immediate. No, it’s the sound the V8 makes which is in utter contrast with the car’s aura. The V8’s angry burble and quickly rising cacophony are at complete odds with the serene environment in which the occupants find themselves. But it’s nothing short of fabulous.

The LC 500’s chassis, which features an adaptive variable suspension, is tune for equal parts comfort and handling. Also included in the Performance package are 4-wheel active steering with variable steering ratio and a Torsen active rear sport differential. These elements, along with good overall visibility, make the LC an easy car to drive for the type.

2021 Lexus LC 500 | Photo: Olivier Delorme

One of a few GTs left

And the type is a grand touring automobile, or a GT. In this price range, the Lexus LC 500 (tester was $117,050 with the Performance package) is up against one of the best of the sort in the BMW 8 Series, even when compared to cars twice its price. There are only a handful of true GTs left (Bentley Continental GT, Aston Martin DB11, and stretching it a bit, the Porsche 911) and there are only a few larger premium coupes still on the market (Mercedes-AMG E 53, Benz S-Class Coupe) and in no case is there a specific reason to opt for the Lexus other than rarity and exclusivity.

All of the Lexus LC’s rivals exist because of an established formula and pedigree, two things the LC 500 lacks. And yet, it’s an exquisite car. Finally, no one will ever boast about owning a Lexus LC either…

2021 Lexus LC 500 | Photo: Olivier Delorme

2021 Lexus LC 500 | Photo: Olivier Delorme

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Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,500 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai


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