Sometimes, a woman just wants to get out in front and be in control of something powerful. I found that power in the stunning new Lexus LC 500 hybrid.
The new LC 500 and its hybrid sibling, the LC 500h, are what Lexus is calling “a pivotal time in the brand’s history.” Sleek, styled, and all around sexy, this new expression of Lexus is the epitome what one might expect of German engineering but crafted by a Japanese engineering team, checking nearly every box in the modern day luxury car toolkit.
Led by LC’s chief engineer Koji Sato– the Lexus engineering team infused omotenashi, the Japanese word for hospitality, or how to treat a guest, into all facets of its design. Everything about these new coupes is about pleasing the driver – gorgeous styling, exceptional materials, a personal touch on every detail, ensuring a memorable experience. These “experiential masters” tell us that the new LC experience “should take your breath away.” So I enlisted a new LC 500 hybrid on a recent trip to the Four Seasons Hualālai, and after a helicopter tour with Blue Hawaiian, I landed on the east side of the island, ready to be thrilled.
Most of us remember Lexus from its start. The brand launched in 1989 with two cars, which has now grown to 11. The LC 500 and LC 500 hybrid are indicators the company is not willing to rest on its well established luxe laurels but eager to put themselves out there and reinvent themselves at a higher level for new audiences.
Lined up before me was a collection of both LC 500 and LC 500h models. Considering the beautiful terrain I was about to drive through, I chose the LC 500h built with a new-generation Multi Stage Hybrid powertrain. Lexus, which introduce the world’s first luxury hybrid 13 years ago, developed the new hybrid system specifically for the LC 500h, teaming the gasoline engine with the two electric motor/generators. This gives the car better fuel efficiency, and a quieter drive than the sport model, but with all of the power and indulgence.
I ran my hand along the chrome-plated moldings that edged the LC 500h from front to back, resembling a traditional Japanese sword, and the large glass panel and blacked–out rear pillars that create a floating roof appearance. It looks like a concept car from afar – ultramodern and innovative.
Artful design of the coupe lends itself in the cabin as well. Takumi craftsmanship is seen in the hand stitching of the leather-wrapped gearshift and steering wheel. The intuitive layout and optimal seating position made all of the vehicle’s control feel easily within reach. My 5’4” frame felt comfortable from behind the wheel, navigating the GPS and the Mark Levinson 13-speaker system.
Setting out onto the streets of the Big Island, I drove through eight different climate zones during a three hour drive. With the car’s low center of gravity, aerodynamics and high-speed stability I could feel the control in which the car handled as I edged corners on its 21-inch wheels along the coast and powering up the mountainous terrain with ease.
With the new Multi Stage Hybrid System, the power from the V6 engine and the electric motor can be amplified by the 4-speed automatic transmission, generating much greater drive power when accelerating. The LC 500h is the first Lexus hybrid that can spin its rear wheels. It is also the first Lexus hybrid to use a compact, lightweight lithium-ion battery. The battery pack fits neatly between the rear seats and the luggage compartment and has a high power density, with its 84 cells producing 310.8 volts.
Through forests, past cliffs and at stop signs dotted along the route, the LC 500h was a head turner – for all the right reasons. Even in the parking lot of a local coffee shop, people stopped and admired the car’s revolutionary design – a concept car come to life.
As soon as I found myself on a straightaway, I decided to finally give the acceleration a go.
Just minutes from my final destination the Four Seasons Hualālai, I had a chance to experience the power and performance of the Lexus LC500 hybrid unbound. When the lane opposite me opened up and there was no traffic ahead, I pulled out and punched it. In mere seconds (I couldn’t count and pass cars at the same time, sorry) I was traveling from 65 to 103, if leveling my foot against at a kitten purring on the floor of my living room. It was that easy and that fast. In that moment, yes indeed, the LC experience took my breath away.
Arriving at Lexus dealerships in May, the V8-powered LC 500 has a starting MSRP of $92,000 and the LC 500h featuring a new Multi Stage Hybrid powertrain has a starting MSRP of $96,510.