SCINTILLATING PERFORMANCE

The arrival of the 2018 LC flagship performance coupe marks a new era in Lexus’s history. A concept car come to life, the Lexus LC combines stunning design, scintillating performance, long-distance comfort and premium craftsmanship to join an elite group of international grand touring coupes. The Lexus LC 500 makes the strongest statement yet about the brand’s future direction. Previewed by the LF-LC concept in 2012, the Lexus LC debuted as a production model at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Focused on offering more emotional and exciting vehicles for global markets, he called for a flagship production coupe echoing the spirit of the hand-built Lexus LFA supercar and delivering the visual impact of the Lexus LF-LC concept.

Debuting at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the Lexus LF-LC was a true concept, not a thinly disguised pre-production prototype. The LF-LC won the EyesOn Design award for Concept Car and stirred many to question whether Lexus would build it. Turning the LF-LC concept into a production model while remaining faithful to its visual excitement required nothing less than a new development process, combining design and engineering disciplines as never before at Lexus.

The process yielded an entirely new platform for the LC, called GA–L (Global Architecture – Luxury), which also forms the foundation for the all-new 2018 LS flagship sedan and will underpin future front engine/rear-wheel drive Lexus models. The platform was designed with a lower center of gravity to aid agility and driving pleasure and to enable more alluring vehicle designs. The production LC preserves the concept’s adventurous appearance, and the design itself helped achieve performance targets, especially with regard to low center of gravity, aerodynamics and high-speed stability. It’s also a trophy winner, having won the EyesOn Design awards for Design Excellence – Production Car and Interior Design.

Immediately identifiable as a Lexus thanks to its hallmark spindle grille and dynamic character lines, the 2018 LC represents the most passionate expression of the brand’s design direction.

The Lexus LC offers a choice no other premium coupe does: the LC 500 with a high-performance V8 or LC 500h with a new-generation Multi Stage Hybrid powertrain. In both, the focus is driving excitement, with the LC 500h offering higher fuel efficiency associated with the world’s luxury hybrid leader. Upon startup, exhaling through the variable Active Exhaust, the 5-liter naturally aspirated V8 issues a clarion call to driving enthusiasts. Based on the engine in the Lexus GS F an RC F high-performance models, the LC 500 version raises the output to 471 hp and 398 lb.-ft. of peak torque. The LC 500 can sprint from zero to 60 mph in less than 4.5 seconds. It’s a well-proven performance engine, with a low-mass reciprocating assembly using lightweight forged connecting rods, along with titanium intake and exhaust valves to allow a 7,300-rpm redline.

The Lexus LC 500 debuts the first 10-speed automatic transmission for a luxury automobile. Smaller and lighter than some 8-speed units, this new transmission executes shifts at speeds rivaling dual-clutch transmissions, yet with the seamless performance and smoothness of a torque converter automatic. Very quick downshifts eliminate lag in G response.

The LC 500 allows manual shifting via magnesium paddles. Even drivers who pride themselves on making expertly timed shifts, however, will find the advanced electronic control system, which anticipates the driver’s inputs by monitoring acceleration, braking and lateral-g forces, always chooses the ideal ratio. Torque converter lock-up engages in all ranges except when starting off to provide a direct feel and also aid fuel efficiency. With the Drive Mode Select feature, the LC driver can set the vehicle’s performance responses according to the driving situation. SPORT S+ extracts the most from the powertrain and transmission shifts and also fully opens the baffles in the Active Exhaust under acceleration.

Lexus, which introduced the world’s first luxury hybrid 13 years ago, developed a new Multi Stage Hybrid System specifically for the LC 500h. Like other Lexus hybrid configurations, the Multi Stage Hybrid System teams the gasoline engine with two electric motor/generators, but similarities end there. The Atkinson-cycle 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine uses D-4S direct fuel injection, and lightweight valvetrain components allow a 6,600-rpm redline, with Dual VVT-i ensuring ample torque across the engine speed range.

The new system keeps the planetary-type continuously variable transmission from Lexus Hybrid Synergy Drive and also adds a unique four-speed automatic transmission. Working in concert, the two gear sets alter output in four stages to utilize the V6 engine across the entire speed range. In M mode, the two gear sets act together to provide the effect of 10 ratios, giving the LC 500h a highly engaging driving feel and allowing the driver to shift through the ratios with paddle shifters. In automatic mode, AI shift control matches gear selection to driving conditions and driver inputs. The Multi Stage Hybrid System allows for more electric assist at lower vehicle speeds, and it enables the LC 500h to operate with the gasoline engine off at speeds of up to 87 mph.

Combined system output is 354 hp, yet that figure does not fully indicate the LC 500h’s performance potential. In a conventional full hybrid vehicle, engine output is amplified by the electric motor via a reduction gear. With the new Multi Stage Hybrid System, the power from the V6 engine and the electric motor can be amplified by the 4-speed automatic transmission, generating much greater drive power when accelerating. The LC 500h is the first Lexus hybrid that can spin its rear wheels. It is also the first Lexus hybrid to use a compact, lightweight lithium-ion battery. The battery pack fits neatly between the rear seats and the luggage compartment and has a high power density, with its 84 cells producing 310.8 volts.

Achieving sports car handling with a high degree of ride comfort, while maintaining the low hood height, was a particularly demanding challenge. The solution was a double ball joint front suspension that allows for control of the smallest movements from driver inputs and the road surface, yielding more precise steering response with better initial effort. All but one of the control arms are made of lightweight forged aluminum, reducing unsprung weight and improving suspension response. The LC driver will feel the effectiveness of the suspension design in the immediate response at initial turn-in, controlled body motion and precise, linear response that create a rhythmical and smooth driving experience. The LC 500’s electric power steering (EPS) gives a natural feel, while yielding high handling precision.

The ideal grand touring coupe cabin must strike a balance between function and comfort, sporting intent and luxury. The Lexus LC hits that note with an intuitive layout and an optimal seating position that set the stage for spirited driving. The design places the driver’s hip point as close as possible to the car’s center of gravity, where feedback from the car is the most communicative to the driver.

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