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Concept come to life: Radical Lexus LC 500 is here

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Johannesburg – Lexus calls it a concept car come to life. Certainly, the shared DNA of the LC 500 and the LF-LC concept is clear to see.

It took a while coming to South Africa – the concept was first shown in 2012 and the production model made its world debut at the 2016 Detroit motor show – but the LC 500 has finally landed on our shores as a 2018 model, albeit in 5-litre petrol V8 guise only; we’re not getting the hybrid version.

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But it’s quite a V8: Based on the RC F engine, it has forged con-rods and four titanium valves per cylinder, allowing it to rev to a howling 7300rpm. Variable valve timing and direct fuel-injection allow a high (12.3:1) compression ratio, with port fuel-injectors as well to boost low-end response.

It’s been further uprated in this application to a quoted 351kW at 7100 revs and 450Nm at 4800rpm, taking the LC to 100km/h from a standing start in less than 4.7 seconds. And it has a voice to match, with a resonance tube from the intake to the firewall and an active exhaust – adjustable via drive-mode select – that rumbles and grumbles like a big V8 should.

All of which reaches the rear wheels through a 10-speed automatic transmission, about the same size and weight as the eight-speeder it replaces, with paddle shift and a lock-up torque converter to prevent unnecessary revving under acceleration, as well as special software to prevent that heart-stopping hesitation when you hit the down paddle under braking for a tight corner, that afflicts most paddle-shift transmissions.

Torque meets tar via a limited-slip differential, modulated by active stability control, traction control, variable-ratio electric power steering, and rear-wheel steering.

The LC 500 is built on an entirely new platform called GA-L (Global Architecture – Luxury), which will also form the foundation for the 2018 LS sedan and future front engine/rear-wheel drive Lexus models.

It combines high-strength steel, aluminium and carbon fibre, not only to reduce weight (along with leaving out the spare wheel in favour of run-flat tyres) and ensure perfect weight distribution but also to help move the car’s heaviest components closer to the middle and lower in the chassis. The bonnet, front wings and door skins are aluminium, and the inner panels of the doors and boot are carbon-fibre; only the rear wings are steel.

All the drivetrain components are inside the rectangle formed by the four contact patches, and the driver’s hip and heel points have been lowered – in fact the the driver’s hip point is as close as possible to the centre of gravity, so that you can literally drive by the seat of your pants…

The special sports seats are made using a two-part technique where the main part of the seat-back drapes over the shoulder area and then wraps around the back, with bolsters in the shoulder area to help you hold during ‘spirited’ cornering manoeuvres.

The cross-section of the steering wheel rim varies around its circumference to allow for changes in the angle of your wrists, and all the instrumentation is at the same height, for minimum eye movement. Even the leather-trimmed gear lever knob is hand-sewn to a stitch accuracy of 2mm, with recessed metalwork, urethane padding on top and perforated leather over a rigid base at the rear so you can feel exactly what it’s doing.

A new multimedia package, compatible with future software upgrades, integrates navigation and connectivity with a remote touchpad control on the centre console and a 13-speaker Mark Levinson audio system that automatically analyses and enhances the sound quality of compressed digital audio tracks.

Standard equipment includes blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic, lane-keeping assist, parking sensors with rear-view camera, full LED lighting, a large colour head up display and dual-zone climate control.

Bottom line

The Lexus LC 500 is priced at R1 729 600, which includes a four-year or 100 000km maintenance plan.

FACTS: Lexus LC 500

Engine:5-litre, 8-cylinder petrol
Gearbox:10-speed automatic
Power:351kW @ 7100rpm
Torque:450Nm @ 4800rpm
0-100km/h (Claimed):4.7 seconds
Top speed (Claimed):270km/h
Price:R1 729 600
Warranty:4-year/100 000km
Maintenance plan:4-year/100 000km

IOL Motoring

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