Lexus LC review - Engines, performance and drive

Both V8 and hybrid have plenty of punch, but neither is scintillating. Otherwise, the LC does the GT things well, with close to sports car agility

All models grip well and turn in sharply, even though the steering lacks a little in feel. However, Sport+ models with their limited slip differential and rear-wheel steering add a degree of sharpness and agility that make this big coupe feel far more nimble than you’d expect from a car of this size and weight. 

Importantly, it's predictable and the LC’s balance is safe – although the chassis can be coaxed into indulging in some welcome sporty behaviour.The LC is great for refinement, and the ride is supple enough. The CVT can frustrate your driving enjoyment, but at a more sedate pace it’s acceptable. A little more electric-only range would be welcome, though.

Even on optional 21-inch wheels as part of the £9,300 Sport Plus pack, the LC rides nicely, while the Sport Plus model’s rear-wheel steering means that, despite the long wheelbase, the LC changes direction quickly, even if there’s not much feedback through the lifeless set-up.

Importantly, it is predictable, and combined with a limited-slip differential, the LC’s balance is safe – but the chassis can be coaxed into indulging in some welcome sporty behaviour. The LC features six drive modes: Comfort, Eco, Normal, Custom, Sport and Sport+. This is too many. Three would do, because the difference between these settings really isn’t that great.

Engines

Your Lexus LC can come in two flavours – a more traditional 5.0-litre V8 with 471bhp and a clever 3.5-litre V6 hybrid with 354bhp. Yet, in spite of the difference in power, the V6 is only 0.3secs slower from 0-60mph, taking 5.0secs compared with the V8’s time of 4.7secs.

The V8 has by far the most in-gear oomph, though, and its traditional automatic gearbox with a multi-plate clutch snaps through the gearchanges, especially with the car in Sport or Sport+ mode. Those used to the punchiest turbo engines will find the naturally-aspirated unit a little flat at first, but there are real thrills and strong acceleration available if you’re prepared to use all the revs.

It sounds great, too, as a tube from the engine to the cabin transfers the V8’s more pleasant frequencies through under hard acceleration. Valves in the exhaust system open according to your driving style, and release a glorious noise, with a bonus crackle on full-throttle gearchanges.

The V6 hybrid uses a clever CVT gearbox with a four-speed auto attached to it. With three engineered CVT steps for every one of the first three gears in the standard auto, plus the fourth being an overdrive, you effectively get a ten-speed 'box.

It’s been designed to eliminate the ‘rubber band’ feel of CVTs and by-and-large does the job. However, it’s still not entirely natural, with a slight delay when the box can’t help but hold the revs at the most efficient engine point for a moment longer than a normal auto would.

That said, the hybrid still offers a decent level of performance and an enjoyable V6 sound, but with the added bonus of improved fuel consumption and lower emissions.  

If there is a downside, it's that the hybrid's electric motor works in reverse as a generator to help recharge the battery when braking, which means pedal feel is distant and doesn’t inspire confidence when pressing on. It also makes it harder to bring the car to a smooth stop in town, which is a small annoyance, given the LC’s remit as a comfortable GT.

Next Steps

Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    500 5.0 [464] 2dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
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  • Price
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Most Economical

  • Name
    500h 3.5 2dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £80,084

Fastest

  • Name
    500 5.0 [464] 2dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £78,724

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