You don’t have to spend a lot to get decent luxury cars these days. But luxury is about more than just features; it’s also about style. Whether a car is appealing or not is, of course, in the eye of the beholder. However, it’s tough to call the 2021 Lexus LC 500 anything but stylish. And even with its near-six-figure price tag, as YouTube team ThrottleHouse explains, the Lexus LC is an underappreciated gem.
What does the 2021 Lexus LC500 offer?
The Lexus LC 500 is something of a rarity in the luxury coupe world. Not because, for 2021, there’s a convertible version available. Nor because of its available hybrid powertrain. It’s because, in contrast to some Mercedes and BMWs, the Lexus LC doesn’t have turbochargers or superchargers.
Under the 2021 Lexus LC 500’s hood is a 5.0-liter naturally-aspirated V8. It’s the same one used in the RC F, GS F, and last-gen IS F, The Drive reports. Here, it makes 471 hp and 398 lb-ft, sent to the rear wheels via a 10-speed automatic, Road & Track reports. Unfortunately, this will likely be Toyota’s last NA V8. And the planned Lexus LC F has sadly been canceled.
However, the Lexus LC 500 does get several updates for 2021. New aluminum suspension components, new springs, and new wheels remove 22 pounds of unsprung weight, Motor Trend reports. And to sharpen the handling, the 2021 LC has Active Cornering Assist, which brakes the inside wheels in corners, Car and Driver reports. Lexus also tweaked the LC’s bump stops and adaptive dampers and fitted a stiffer rear anti-roll bar, Car and Driver reports.
The 2021 Lexus LC 500 looks the same as the 2020 model—which isn’t a bad thing, Automobile reports. However, it now has Android Auto; previously, it only had Apple CarPlay. And because it’s the Lexus flagship, it has other luxury features, too. Navigation, WiFi, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warning, and blind-spot monitoring are all standard. Heated and ventilated seats are, too.
Plus, if you get the ‘Climate Concierge’ option on the convertible, it adds additional upper-body heating vents. The system also changes the vents’ and the seat temperature settings based on the roof’s position and your current speed.
How does it drive?
Even with less unsprung weight and that cornering feature, the 2021 Lexus LC 500 isn’t exactly a sports car, R&T, and MT report. The steering, while accurate, doesn’t have much feel. The brakes are good, but they’re not meant for track duty. And while the convertible has minimal body roll, it still weighs over 2 tons, The Drive reports.
However, that’s not what the Lexus LC 500 is about. Like the last-gen Aston Martin V8 Vantage, it’s a fantastic GT car. ThrottleHouse host Thomas Holland would, by his own admission, happily drive across Canada without issue in the LC. The ride is comfortable, and the interior—influenced by traditional Japanese crafts—is phenomenal in terms of the overall design and material quality. The only real downside is the infotainment, which still uses a trackpad rather than a touchscreen. Also, the convertible’s roof controls are hidden underneath a leather-covered panel, rather than out in the open.
But the Lexus LC 500 is just sporty enough to have fun on the back roads. Especially if you equip it with the optional limited-slip differential and sport suspension, Automobile reports. The latter comes as part of the Sport Package which, for the coupe, includes a carbon-fiber roof. Yes, the Lexus LC 500 is a heavy car, but with those features, it feels lighter on its feet than you might expect.
Then there’s the V8, with all its pops and bangs and crackles. It’s geared a bit long, R&T reports, which lessens the audio impact somewhat. But that’s solved with a twist of the drive-mode knob and a flick of the metal shift paddles. And the transmission retune seems to have solved the shift hesitancy Motor1 and Roadshow experienced in previous models.
It isn’t perfect, but the 2021 Lexus LC 500 is definitely special.
How does the 2021 Lexus LC compare to its rivals?
If you’re after a sporty GT, the Jaguar F-Type is sharper than the Lexus LC 500. Plus, you can order it with AWD and 575 hp, Car and Driver reports. However, it’s also less roomy, with a lower-quality interior.
If you’re after the Lexus LC 500h hybrid, MT found the Acura NSX, Polestar 1, and discontinued BMW i8 all had sharper handling. Their hybrid systems were also more refined, more powerful, and offered faster electric-only speeds. However, the Polestar 1 is a limited-production car. And while the NSX has gotten cheaper, it’s almost $80,000 more expensive than the LC500h.
With the new Mercedes S-Class only available in sedan form, the Lexus LC 500’s biggest German rival is arguably the BMW 8 Series convertible. It’s sportier than the LC, Car and Driver reports, with sharper and more tactile steering and more communicative brakes. And in M850i xDrive form, it has a 523-hp 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 with AWD. But the coupe costs about $18,000 more than the Lexus LC coupe. And the convertible costs about $20,000 more than the LC convertible.
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