We genuinely work very exhausting to be as goal as attainable. Regardless of our title, we aren’t fanboys and we perceive the place BMW’s vehicles stack up of their respective segments. To take action, although, we have to check drive BMW’s competitors. With the brand new BMW eight Sequence hitting the highway quickly, and it being the primary eight Sequence in nearly twenty years, we thought we’d check among the competitors it will likely be going through when it lastly reaches the general public. And we began with the Lexus LC500.
Whereas a premium model of its personal, Lexus is never in comparison with BMW, Mercedes-Benz or Audi within the press, just because the Germans sometimes cater to a special viewers. Clients that purchase German are sometimes shopping for their vehicles with that Teutonic stability, construct high quality and precision. Clients that purchase Lexus are sometimes shopping for their vehicles to be the squishiest, most comfy, most remoted driving expertise attainable. The Lexus clientele bases’ common age is about 100 and twelve, individuals who maintain their enamel in jars at night time.
So why are we testing a Lexus as a competitor to the BMW eight Sequence, the Bavarian model’s newest sporty grand tourer, a automobile designed to have the ability to take you from Munich to Portimao for trip, hit the monitor for a number of laps, and cruise again? As a result of the Lexus LC500 is minimize from a special fabric than the remainder of its siblings. Assume baby-LFA slightly than two door-ES350.
Once I first noticed the Lexus LC500 in particular person, it was on a stand on the New York Auto Present a few years again. I didn’t prefer it. The truth is, I couldn’t see why everybody else was so gaga about it. I although its proportions have been a bit off and that it was only a bit misshapen. However as I noticed extra of it, it grew on me. And when you may sit again and respect a few of its styling cues and attention-grabbing shapes, it’s actually fairly stunning.
Admittedly, it’s nonetheless odd trying from some angles, like from the entrance three-quarters, the place its proportions appear a bit unusual. However total it’s a unbelievable trying automobile. Particularly once you take a look at it in profile, admiring its putting silhouette. It additionally seems to be actually good from the rear three-quarters angle, the place its roofline and C-pillar are paying homage to the Aston Martin DB11 (one other automobile that can compete with the eight Sequence).
There are nonetheless some odd styling bits that don’t fairly work. As an example, its headlights are far too fussy, with so many traces and shapes that they only seem like a large number. They seem like headlights by Jackson Pollock, simply random traces and splashes. Additionally, the taillights, whereas effective trying, stick out a bit from the rear. That in and of itself will not be an issue. The issue lies in a silver little bit of plastic that sits atop the taillight housings, which just about seems to be as if it’s been spray painted with the most affordable silver paint attainable. It’s scratchy and bubbly trying, fully unfitting of a automobile as costly and posh because the Lexus LC500.
Apart from these minor niggles, although, the Lexus LC500 is a superb trying automobile and an actual head-turner. The truth is, there have been few press vehicles I’ve examined that garnered as many head turns, thumbs up or easy “Hey, good automobile!” remarks. It’s additionally very totally different, which helps. Nothing else on the highway seems to be prefer it. One factor I actually like about its styling is that it seems to be Japanese. It’s not attempting to be one of many Germans. It’s Japanese and happy with its heritage and I like that.
On the within, issues are comparable in that it’s putting to have a look at however has a number of niggles. Although, it have to be mentioned, the niggles on the within are way more egregious than these on the surface. First, its design, although. Once you first slide into the massive, closely bolstered seats, you instantly discover the standard. From the seats, to the steering wheel to the wiper stalks, every little thing feels costly and sturdy and every little thing is roofed in wealthy supplies.
One of many coolest facets of the inside is the door panel design. The doorways function a tier-like design with so many geometric ranges that they actually catch the attention. The sweeping Alcantara, the leather-based higher and decrease parts and the lengthy, aluminum door pull are all so expertly sculpted, it’s as if the Vatican had them commissioned.
Nonetheless, there are some actual points with the cabin, most notably with the infotainment system. No matter Lexus calls it, the LC500’s infotainment system is a large number. An absolute mess. Its touchpad controller is sloppy and finicky to make use of, the display icons and menus are complicated, convoluted and nonsensical at occasions (why do I’ve to dig via three menus to get to my heated seat controls?). It’s the least intuitive, most intricate and irritating system I’ve ever used. The infotainment system you get in a $21,000 Mazda three is way superior and that’s, frankly, unacceptable in a automobile with a price ticket cresting six-figures.
Its different inside annoyances are minor. As an example, its gauge cluster, whereas cool trying, is a bit too fussy, with an excessive amount of info in too small of an area. Additionally, the numbers and font are a bit too small to learn whereas driving rapidly. The typical Lexus buyer can’t learn an early-bird dinner menu with out holding it to their face, how are they speculated to learn these gauges? Oh, and once you put it in reverse, it beeps. Incessantly. Not on the surface, like a van. On the within. It beeps till you’re taking it out of reverse.
Why? I do know I’m in reverse, the automobile is shifting backward. Additionally, the large infotainment display turns into a big backup digicam. I don’t want a automobile to beep at me for six minutes straight to let me know I’m backing out of my driveway. Is that this Lexus acknowledging its typical buyer’s age? No matter it’s, it’s extremely annoying, although, not a deal breaker. All of this stuff, each good and unhealthy, fade into the background when you begin driving it, although. As soon as on the transfer (going ahead, because it’s unimaginable to assume in reverse with that fixed beeping), the Lexus LC500 turns into a genuinely thrilling automobile to drive and one which shocked me every time I drove it. But it surely all begins up entrance, with that magnificent engine.
It’s a 5.zero liter, naturally-aspirated, all-aluminum V8 and it’s sensational. It had been a very long time since I’d pushed a naturally-aspirated V8 and I forgot how a lot I missed it. With razor-sharp throttle response, a superbly linear powerband and a noise like a nitroglycerin-powered chainsaw, the Lexus LC500’s engine is an absolute delight to make use of. I discovered myself revving it to its 7,100 rpm redline over and over, simply to listen to the noise.
The draw back of its pure aspiration is that it’s not practically as highly effective as its opponents. With simply 471 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque, it’s woefully outgunned in comparison with the BMW M850i, with its 530 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. The LC500 can scoot to 60 mph in about 4 and a half seconds, which is quick however about a complete second slower than the massive eight Sequence it’s going to compete with. So the M850i’ll go away the Lexus for useless with a yawn.
Nonetheless, that didn’t matter whereas driving it. By no means as soon as did I really feel it was under-powered, just because I didn’t care in regards to the velocity at which I used to be going. I simply needed to listen to the noise, really feel the zing of the engine because it blazed threw its revs, pull a paddle and do it once more. Sensational.
The place the powertrain falls down a bit is within the gearbox. It’s a ten-speed automated and it’s simply not excellent. It’s not horrible however it’s not nice. It’s simply type of “ehh”. It shifts fairly quick more often than not however, when left to its personal units, it may be dimwitted and gradual in site visitors. Additionally, it will probably clank on some downshifts once you mash the throttle. It’s simply nowhere close to as refined, nor as quick and easy shifting, because the ZF eight-speed automated that’s change into ubiquitous within the business.
What’s thoughts boggling is that Lexus makes use of that very ZF eight velocity in a number of different vehicles. So why not use it right here? Is it a case of simply having extra numbers than its competitors? Plus, ten is simply too many gears, making it annoying to swap cogs by yourself, by way of steering wheel-mounted paddles. Nonetheless, the engine is good, so it isn’t too large a deal.
I had recognized the Lexus’ V8 was nice, although. It’s basically the identical V8 the Japanese model has been utilizing in a number of vehicles over time and it’s at all times been good. Additionally, Lexus has confirmed it is aware of a factor or two about making an attractive engine with the LFA’s stratospheric V10. What I wasn’t anticipating was how a lot enjoyable the LC500 would really be to drive.
Flip-in is surprisingly sharp, with good weighting, which builds naturally as you flip the wheel. It’s down on precise steering really feel however the steering is correct and correctly weighted, so I used to be by no means wanting for really feel, nor did I care. I used to be capable of place the massive Lexus precisely the place I needed and that’s all I ask.
When pushing it exhausting via corners, you get sharp preliminary turn-in adopted by a little bit of secure understeer, the latter of which is well countered by you proper foot. Which was actually stunning. A Lexus that’s throttle adjustable mid-corner? Whoa. Bizarre occasions.
Regardless of being so playful and enjoyable to drive, the LC500 did get a bit upset with mid-corner bumps. Its suspension is definitely very well damped and fairly supple more often than not. However its large 21-inch wheels allowed harsh highway imperfections to ship sharp jolts via the cabin. Mid nook, this might upset the rear finish a bit and ship it skipping. So it’s an excellent highway automobile for some twisty bits however it’s not as composed as, say, a Porsche 911. We have been solely capable of check the brand new BMW M850i for a short while on the highway, so we’ll should get it again on U.S. soil to essentially discover out if it will probably do higher.
It have to be mentioned, although, that the Lexus LC500 is kind of a bit cheaper than the BMW M850i. My absolutely loaded tester rang in at simply over $100,000, whereas the BMW M850i begins at $111,900. Whereas that’s not an enormous disparity at that worth level, the 8er can get fairly dear with choices, whereas the Lexus is capped out simply north of six-figures.
Lexus has executed an excellent job, right here. The LC500 is an efficient automobile, one that appears like nothing else on the highway (for higher or worse), has a cushty inside, handles surprisingly properly and has a masterpiece of an engine. It’s not excellent, although, with a sloppy transmission, some annoying inside quibbles and the worst infotainment system I’ve ever used. Nonetheless, there’s loads to love from the Lexus LC500 and I can see why prospects may need it of their driveway. Is it nearly as good because the BMW M850i? We’ll want a correct highway check of that automobile to seek out out. However not less than we all know the place one in every of its opponents stands, as an attention-grabbing, thrilling automobile with loads of flaws.
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