It’s taken four long years, but my, have they been worth it – after the stunning Lexus LF-LC concept was revealed in 2012, it has finally made the trek to production in the form of the 2017 Lexus LC 500 at the 2016 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) today ahead of its on sale date sometime next year.
Stop rubbing your eyes (we know, we did so too) – we did not accidentally publish photos of the original concept car. What you see here is exactly what you’ll be able to buy off the showroom floor, right next to your uncle’s LS 460. The company claims the astonishing design is a culmination of a “heightened collaboration between design and engineering groups and their commitment to help overcome each other’s hurdles.”
The result is that the styling has stayed incredibly faithful to that of the show car, from the dramatic, sensuous, impossibly low-slung forms, to the distinctive triangular headlights with three small LED projectors (apparently one of the smallest in production, contributing to a low bonnet height and short front overhang) and striking arrow-shaped tail lights. Only the addition of more practical door mirrors and flush door handles make the LC’s design appreciably different from the LF-LC.
Options include a carbon fibre roof (a glass roof is fitted as standard), an active rear spoiler and 21-inch forged aluminium wheels to replace the standard 20-inch machined cast aluminium items.
Inside, it’s just as striking, with a minimalist driver-focused cockpit, dominated by a central spar that rises from the transmission tunnel. And when we say driver-focused, we really mean it – the driving position has been engineered to be as close as possible to the car’s centre of gravity to provide the most amount of feedback to the driver, while optional sport seats offer added bolstering and lateral support when cornering.
There’s more – attention has been placed on details such as the size and angle of the steering wheel, the feel and positioning of the magnesium alloy paddle shifters and the optional leather and Alcantara upholstery, all to provide “an engaging yet seductive atmosphere for the driver.”
Debuting on the LC 500 is the 2017 Lexus Multimedia system with updated software that is faster and more flexible, with a new graphic user interface and the ability to add future updates. As usual, a Mark Levinson sound system is available as an option, but there’s now a new Pioneer system that is standard-fit, developed in collaboration with the car’s body and cabin designers to enhance the sound within the interior.
In terms of safety, the LC 500 comes with the Lexus Safety System + package – utilising millimeter-wave radar and a camera – that adds All-speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (All-speed DRCC) that works in stop-and-go traffic, Pre-Collision System (PCS), Lane Keep Assist (LKA) and Automatic High Beam (AHB).
As expected, under the bonnet sits the high-revving all-aluminium 5.0 litre naturally-aspirated V8 from the RC F and GS F, developing 467 hp and 527 Nm. Matched to a 10-speed automatic transmission – the first in the luxury segment, Lexus would like to boast – it will sprint from 0-100 km/h in under 4.5 seconds.
Going hand-in-hand with the performance of the car, the sound of the engine was also focused on here, with a dual intake inlet that also improves airflow into the V8. There’s also an active exhaust with baffles that open over 3,500 rpm – or all the time in Sport mode – as well as a “sound generator” with tuned acoustic plumbing.
Beneath the skin, the LC 500 rides on Lexus’ all-new premium rear-wheel drive luxury platform, part of the global architecture for luxury vehicles (GA-L), that will also underpin all of Lexus’ upcoming front-engine, rear-drive models. The positioning of mass was key, with most of it packaged in a more centralised and lower position to improve centre of gravity.
Among these measures, the battery has been moved to the boot, and there’s no spare tyre – the LC 500 rides on run-flat Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres. In addition, the aforementioned carbon roof, aluminium door skins on carbon fibre inner structures and a composite boot floor also help deliver an almost perfect 52:48 weight distribution front-to-rear.
The bodyshell is said to be the stiffest Lexus has ever built, with strategic use of high-tensile steel providing higher torsional rigidity than even the LFA‘s carbon structure. Adding to the strength are special engine compartment bracing, stiff aluminium front suspension towers and a ring structure near the rear fenders.
Suspension-wise, the multilink system has double ball joints on upper and lower control arms for more precise steering response and optimised suspension geometry for increased wheel control. All but one of the control arms are made from lightweight forged aluminium to reduce unsprung mass and further improve suspension response.
All in all, it’s pretty stunning, isn’t it? What do you think of the LC 500’s looks? Sound off in the comments section after the jump.