Lexus LC 500h engine, drive & performance
Up-to-date powertrain technology and an agile chassis make the LC 500h an impressive performer
The Lexus LC 500h finally banishes the spectre of CVT transmissions that need to be ‘wound up’ before acceleration, thanks to some exciting gearbox technology. The result is seamless performance, with a much more ‘normal’ feel that'll definitely engage enthusiastic drivers. It’s fast, comfortable and fun to drive, just as a road-focused luxury GT should be.
Lexus LC 500h engine, 0-62mph and acceleration
The key elements of the LC 500h powertrain are a 3.5-litre V6 engine and an electric motor, which together produce 354bhp. Not all hybrid powertrains are set up for optimal efficiency, and Lexus has gone to some lengths to prove the hybrid concept can work in an engaging fashion in an out-and-out performance car.
It still has a CVT gearbox like all Lexus and Toyota hybrids, but as well as introducing stepped ‘ratios’ to the infinitely variable drive, there’s an additional mini four-speed gearbox tacked onto the back of the CVT. It’s rather a complicated way of delivering the effect of a 10-speed automatic, but fortunately it works well, with the driver able to use paddle shifts to flick up and down the ratios as though it were a single gearbox. The system also eliminates the tiresome characteristic of CVT boxes noisily winding up engine revs while the car is still waiting to accelerate.
In bald performance terms, the setup is a little slower than the 5.0-litre V8's conventional transmission, with a 4.7-second 0-62mph time against the V8’s 4.5. Maximum speed is 155mph and there’s a fabulous growl from the engine under acceleration, although progress is otherwise extremely refined. In fact, it’s near-silent if you’re cruising along in town in electric-only mode.
The handling of the Lexus LC 500h is better than your average hybrid's. The car rides on a cutting-edge platform with a low centre of gravity, and with exotic suspension it relishes being driven swiftly on a challenging road.
Grip is prodigious from run-flat tyres and the steering is direct and well weighted, with little of the road surface transmitted back from the wheels to trouble the driver. The suspension of the hybrid LC feels a little stiffer than its conventionally powered counterpart, but the ride quality is supple with no untoward jolts making themselves felt inside.
In late 2021, Lexus deployed a series of improvements to further refine the LC's handling. The front and rear suspension settings were tuned to give a better sense of the car being contact with the road, linear steering response and steering effectiveness. The 'Normal' drive mode was also revised to improve ride comfort and the sporty 'S+' mode was tailored for more exhilarating performance. Pitch and roll movements were also further suppressed.
In This Review
- 1VerdictWith stunning concept-car looks and thrilling performance, the LC proves ‘hybrid’ needn’t mean dull
- 2MPG & CO2 emissionsWith similar performance, the hybrid Lexus LC knocks spots off the V8 model when it comes to fuel economy and CO2 emissions
- 3Running costs & insuranceA luxurious sports coupe with an £80,000 price tag is never going to be cheap to run
- 4Engines, drive & performance - currently readingUp-to-date powertrain technology and an agile chassis make the LC 500h an impressive performer
- 5Interior, dashboard & comfortThe LC's ergonomics aren’t quite up to German standards, but quality and ambience are superb
- 6Boot space, seating & practicalityThe Lexus LC is a great grand tourer for two people sharing one person's luggage
- 7Reliability & safety ratingAs a Lexus flagship model, anything less than flawless would be a failure for the LC here