Lexus LC 500h – why a four-speed auto/CVT combo?


The Lexus LC 500h is certainly a sight to behold. Essentially the greener version of the V8-powered LC 500, the LC 500h features a unique transmission setup with a four-speed gearbox connected to a CVT with two electric motors. However, don’t giggle because there’s a good reason for it.

In a report by Automotive News, Koji Sato, chief engineer for the LC 500h says the new design is to eliminate the ‘rubber band’ feel of conventional CVTs. Unsure what the ‘rubber band’ effect is?

When you press on the accelerator hard, most CVTs increase the engine speed (revs) quickly and stay there, forcing the driver to wait while the car accelerates. This creates the droning sounds that CVT bashers dislike. That is what Lexus’ new transmission aims to eliminate. Here, the four-speed automatic modulates the CVT’s output and creates an intentionally perceived gearshift.


Sato says that during acceleration, the new gearbox in the LC 500h simulates six shifts in addition to the four actual shifts, but drivers will be unable to tell which is which. The two-transmission setup is part of the Multi Stage Hybrid System on the LC 500h, which includes a 3.5 litre V6 petrol engine providing 295 hp and 348 Nm, mated to an electric motor and a 44.6 kW lithium-ion battery pack.

The total system output is rated at 354 hp, and Lexus is targetting a sub-five second 0-to-100 km/h time for the LC 500h. As a comparison, the 467 hp/527 Nm 5.0 litre naturally-aspirated V8-powered LC 500 has a 10-speed automatic transmission, and does the century sprint in under 4.5 seconds.

According to Sato, Toyota President Akio Toyoda pushed for the transmission, which could also find its way into other hybrid Lexus vehicles in the future, such as the next-gen LS full-size sedan and GS midsize sedan. Even Toyota hybrid models can opt for the transmission should the need arise.

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Gerard Lye

Originating from the corporate world with a background in finance and economics, Gerard’s strong love for cars led him to take the plunge into the automotive media industry. It was only then did he realise that there are more things to a car than just horsepower count.



  • Now LC, later LY.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 2
    • Rajan on Mar 08, 2016 at 3:06 pm

      Should call it Lexus RV cause all Lexus got no RV after 4 years

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2
      • Rubber band effect. That explains why Civic 1.5 (174hp) turbocharger can only do 0-100 in 8+ seconds

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3
        • Kamal on Mar 08, 2016 at 4:48 pm

          Focus 1.5 ecoboost (180HP) also just 8.6s la. So the fastest still Jetta (160HP) 8.3s

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3
        • karam singh on Mar 09, 2016 at 1:28 am

          The rubber band Civic 1.5 turbo defeat the 2.4 / k24 200hp 2.4liter manual civic Si
          New Civic 1.5 turbo manage to get 0-100kmh around 7 seconds. Please get your fact right.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2
          • Some 0 to 100 sprint posted on Youtube gave 8 seconds reading on their new Civic.

            0 to 160 sprint. One Malaysia guy posted the clip with 16s had on his stock VW. Whereas the new Civic needs almost 18s to get there.

            I can’t tell whos right or whos wrong. Let’s wait the car comes.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1
  • shawal on Mar 08, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    just stick to the v8, then a short trip to Hennessey and plonk tiny twin turbos, akrapovic exhaust……
    Carbon ceramic brakes…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2
  • hailthepurist on Mar 08, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    from many cvt cars i drove, nissan’s the best..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 9
  • DSG Kaput on Mar 08, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    At least it won’t breakdown like VW DSG.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1
  • nabill (Member) on Mar 08, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    wd love to know how much power is lost by the time it reaches the wheels..seeems overly complicated

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3
  • Crazy4car on Mar 08, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    this car not practical…
    just a dream….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2
  • 4g63t dsm on Mar 08, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    Makes it sound so complicated.

    Basically it’s a 4 speed auto connected to an electrically assisted variable ratio Final drive.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2
  • joker on Mar 09, 2016 at 8:02 am

    somehow, i look the Lexus front grill got some sort a cleft lip on human it just me?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

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