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Lexus LC 500 first-drive: Love at first sight

by Brandon Russell | November 24, 2017November 24, 2017 11:00 am PDT

It made a great first impression wherever it went, whether it was roaring down Pacific Coast Highway or sitting in a crowded parking lot. Even among the tired opulence of Corona Del Mar, the Lexus LC 500 made a statement, exuding luxury and power in a package that’s fun and satisfying to drive.

Taking it down to Balboa Island in Newport Beach, Calif., where the numbers of Teslas outnumber people, the LC 500 became a celebrity, never failing to get compliments and questions. Someone if asked if they could test drive it, to which I kindly declined.

Driving through Balboa’s main drag, it effortlessly stopped pedestrians in their tracks. Part of it was the loud roar of the engine. Even at a dead stop, the LC 500 eagerly purrs, waiting to pounce on the road ahead. The car is also a stunner, plain and simple, exuding class seen from the industry’s top tier brands.

The car has made such an impression that Black Panther himself has taken notice. According to Lexus, the LC 500 will be paired with the Wakandan king when the film debuts early next year. “The LC’s aggressive styling, high performance and agile handling are a perfect fit for the Black Panther’s quick, cat-like reflexes and superhuman feats,” said Lexus general manager of marketing Brian Bolain.

The LC 500 features a provocative design with Lexus’ hallmark spindle grille and smooth character lines. It looks aggressive and mean, yet inviting and friendly, like it’s begging to be driven.

The larger glass panel and blacked-out rear pillars makes the roof look as though it’s floating, while the body features prominent quarter panels that flare from the center of the car. It’s an aerodynamic wonder; even the rear muffler plays a role in the car’s aerodynamic performance, according to Lexus.

The styling is complimented by a high-performance V8 engine with Lexus’ multi-stage hybrid powetrain and 10-speed automatic transmission, which is good for 471 hp and 398 lb.-ft of peak torque. For the price (nearly $100,000), it’s not the fastest high-performance car around, sprinting from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds.

It’s a nimble and responsive drive, and it’s surprisingly comfortable, too, thanks to the classy interior, which provides good feedback due to placement of the driver seat. It’s small details like this that make the LC 500 more than just a pretty face. Everything is comfortably in reach, while the seated position offers a great view of the road.

For as comfortable as the driver and passenger seats are, the rear seats are all but useless. Lexus says the LC 500 is a four-seater, and while that’s technically true, there’s no way four grown adults could fit in that car. It just won’t happen. I could have preferred to see the car be concerted into a two-seater with more trunk space, but I get what Lexus is going for.

Lexus also needs to put in more work with the instrument displays, which are difficult to navigate. There’s an awkward touch pad in the center console that’s difficult to use for even the most seasoned smartphone owner. In other words, I mostly left the controls alone during my short time with the car.

That kind of stuff can be forgiven or ignored completely when it’s inside of such a gorgeous car. The grille is a little too overwhelming, but it commands respect and earns plenty of wide-eyed glances from passerby. No wonder Black Panther is such a fan.


Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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