It’s a bit like dating fraternal twins, one blonde, one brunette, one a friend to everything green, one with a darker side. But both with a definitely desirable wild side.]
That’s what’s it’s like to go out with the 2018 Lexus LC 500 siblings, the hybrid and the V8. A delightful date in either case.
It’s had to tell the two apart unless you know them well. Outwardly, the LC 500H wears a size larger footwear at 21 inches and carries “Hybrid” badging. Otherwise they are remarkably similar. Their proportions are exactly right, every curve, every angle – even the Lexus spindle grille looks incredible.
Toyota Canada played matchmaker in sending these lovely conveyances for evaluation. The only problem is that we had to have our dating done before the snow flew because the two ladies wore only summer shoes which were totally unsuitable for snowy or icy conditions.
No matter. This would be a whirlwind courtship.
The environmentally “responsible” LC came dressed in a virginal ultra white while her sister is dressed in smoky granite mica, a dark colour well suited to a hell-raising attitude.
Both are stunning outwardly from any angle and simply gorgeous inwardly. Leather is, of course standard with the hybrid done in black while the V8 sports an ocher colour scheme.
They are so attention-getting I planned fuel stops for late in the evening when there were fewer people around, thereby saving 10 or 15 minutes of question-answering from admirers.
But at some point, I had to gauge public attitude other than the thumbs up from other drivers or from pedestrians. So, my wife and I went for groceries.
She went in while I sat smugly in the multi-adjustable heated leather sport seat and protected our ride from curious spectators. They were many, but all were respectful, asking before touching. Some asked to peer under the hood, others wanted to sit inside. If I had been a salesman and they were well-heeled buyers, I could have written at least 20 orders.
The usual comments went something like this: “Ohh what a gorgeous car. How much? Oooo!!”
But enough of that, other than to say that while the trunk is small, it will carry an average supply of groceries. If you have more than the trunk will carry, you have found a use for the leather-covered storage area that’s called a back seat. Nobody rides back there if they have legs.
Both cars have brawn to go with the beauty.
Under the hood of the black beauty is a 5.0-L V8 that belts out 471 horsepower and 398 lb. ft. of torque with a joyful song. It uses a 10-speed direct-shift automatic to handle the shift work. The H is quieter, but surprisingly spry, using a 3.5L V6 rated at 295 horsepower plus two electric motors to produce a net output of 354 horsepower and a CVT that provides a 10-speed automatic simulated shift control multi-stage transmission. This ain’t no Prius.
Both give me a variable-temperature heated steering wheel with paddle shifters to control the shift points. The wheel also has controls for voice recognition, multi-information display and audio.
Their helpful qualities include navigation, Enform App Suite 2.0 and a 10.3-in. display screen. And they fill the interior space with beautiful sound with 13-speaker Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound audio.
With the V8, there’s always more power to be had. Just hit the throttle. Whichever you choose, this is a hugely entertaining rear-wheel-drive sports car that appeals to my every instinct to go quickly, to turn quickly, to stop quickly.
For your inner greenie, there’s an Eco mode to go with Comfort mode, Sport and Sport Plus to match your mood for movement. With Eco, I got surprisingly good economy on a 300-km highway trip: 9.8 L/100 km. But when it comes to tight corners and getting hard into the fun pedal, the V8 does drink more heavily.
The thing is, the H is only marginally slower and only a tad better at fuel economy which is rated at 8.0 L/100 km.
Both are a hoot in the corners, sticking to the pavement as if on rails. The H uses standard adaptive suspension, active four-wheel steering and a Torsen limited slip differential to provide the fun factor. The V8 has the same suspension, but for additional cost.
On the highway, both cars are quiet, stable and well-mannered over the rough spots.
The LC 500 V8 starts life at a base price of $101,600 but the test car added a sports package with goodies like Torsen limited slip differential, variable gear ratio steering. 4-wheel active steering, 21-inch wheels, sports seats, carbon fibre roof, active rear spoiler for a mere $13,500.
Total cost $115,100 plus taxes. Freight and PDI.
The LC 500 h rings up a base of $118,100 with no options (but it comes with more standard performance items.
It would be terrific to be at the income level to allow me to choose one of the other of these beauties.
But which one?
Would I choose to go green? Actually I don’t think so.
It’s not a question of fuel use or of money. it’s a question of sound.
The 500 makes such a lovely noise.
2018 Lexus LC 500 and LC 500h
Price before taxes: $115,100.00 (V8), $118,100.00
Configuration: front engine, rear drive
Engine/transmission: 5.0 L V8/ 10-speed automatic (V8), 3.5L V6 plus two electric motors/CVT (hybrid)
Power/torque: 471 hp/398 lb. ft. (V8) 354 hp (Hybrid)
Fuel economy ratings: 14.7 L/100 km city, 9.1 highway (V8), 8.9/7.0 (hybrid)
Warranties: 4 years/80,000 km (basic), 6 years/110,000 km (powertrain) 8 years/160,000 km (hybrid system)
Competitors: Cadillac ATS-V, Chevy Corvette Stingray Jaguar F-type R AWD, Maserati Gran Turismo Sport, Mercedes SL 550, Porsche 911 Carrera.