Since its debut in 2018, the Lexus LC 500 has been one of the prettiest cars on the market. In an era where luxury automakers opt to keep their lineup with a similar design for a coherent brand image, and adopt the ‘just add size (and grille)’ approach, it is quite refreshing to see Lexus break that mold and offer us a sports car that is both elegant and striking, this 2021 Lexus LC 500 Coupe.
We have had the opportunity to sample the Lexus LC before and the consensus amongst our team is that this is the grand tourer to have. For 2021, Lexus Canada has made minor tweaks to make it lighter and better to drive, so we set out to see whether they have achieved the impossible; improvements on perfection.
The 2021 Lexus LC 500 arrived in our garage painted in a magnificent Nori Green Pearl paint job that enhances the elegance exuded from this Japanese flagship. Words or pictures do not do this LC 500 justice, as it features just the right proportions and flare for the job. The signature spindle grille looks tailored for the LC, and the unique lighting design adds a futuristic element to the overall classy styling. This is a car that looks good no matter how many times you look at it, and is surely going to be a future design classic.
The powertrain is unchanged for the 2021 model, where a 5.0-litre V8 continues to put out 471 horsepower at 7,100 RPM, and 398 lb-ft. of torque at 4,800 RPM. As expected of any Lexus V8s, power delivery is buttery smooth, with an emphasis on a linear power band over forceful acceleration. Its 10-speed automatic transmission does a good job directing power to the rear wheels without much interruption. It is worth reminding our readers that while the Lexus LC 500 looks the part as a full-fledged sports car, its personality is still more like a luxury grand tourer than a highway missile.
With the help of the Four-Wheel Active Steering, rear sport differential, and the performance dampers, all part of the optional Performance Package equipped on our tester, the LC 500 is a fun companion for long winding roads. It is a worthwhile addition as we observed noticeable improvement over the non-Performance Package models. There are more functional goodies included in the Performance Package such as a carbon fiber roof, Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS) system, 21-inch wheels, retractable rear spoiler, and eight-way power adjustable sports seats to elevate the overall driving experience.
Fuel consumption is rated at 15.1L/100km in the city and 9.6L/100km on the highway, for a combined 12.6L/100km. During our real-world testing, we observed a similar figure. As expected with any flagship vehicles, premium fuel is a requirement, with a large 82-litre fuel tank to keep fuel stops to a minimal on road trips. Those who prioritize environmental friendliness or drive range should consider the Lexus LC 500h with its 8.1L/100km combined fuel consumption rating and 84-liter tank.
Stepping inside you will be welcomed into a luxurious cabin that echoes the LC’s clean exterior design. Materials and craftsmanship are top-notch, traits that we have come to expect with any Lexus product. We appreciate that Lexus has given the LC a unique interior language that is not shared with other vehicles in the current portfolio.
The minimalistic interior, while pleasing to look at, is not without its flaws. Usability is hampered by the lack of physical buttons, with many of the commonly used features buried in the Lexus infotainment system. For example, turning on seat heating or cooling requires navigating the trackpad to a submenu under climate control, where you’ll be asked to swipe up or down to change temperature intensity, a tedious and distracting task especially when the vehicle is in operation.
The good news is that once you have all settings inputted, and Android Auto or Apple CarPlay connected, the rest of the experience with the LC 500 is absolutely sublime. The sports seats are comfortable with good lateral support, and ride quality is excellent. We did not notice any negative impact in ride by opting for the 21-inch wheels instead of the standard 20s, nor in the various suspension settings. The 13-speaker Mark Levinson premium surround sound system is crystal clear, filling the quiet cabin with excellent sound quality.
Lexus Safety System+ driver assist system is standard on all 2021 Lexus LC 500s, including Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Intuitive Parking Assist, Automatic High Beam, Pre-Collision, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist systems.
The LC starts at $103,550, with no options available other than the $13,500 Performance Package, bringing the as-tested total to $117,050. At first glance, the price tag may seem like a lot, but the LC 500 actually finds itself priced below most comparable luxury grand tourers. The Porsche 911 Carrera is its closest competition with a $113,000 starting price tag, but is easily $15,000 more than the LC when similarly equipped; and the BMW M850i starts at $124,500. If we are looking at Japanese manufacturers, the only other choice would be the Nissan GT-R at $130,498, but let’s face it, no one is cross shopping them.
The 2021 Lexus LC 500 Coupe is a special vehicle. This is a luxurious grand tourer that manages to announce its entrance no matter the audience, and the optional Performance Package sharpens up the driving dynamics to match the sporty looks. It manages to punch above its price range, especially for those who do not need outright performance, and continues to be one of our perennial favourites.