AMCI Global tested the Lexus LC 500 against the Aston Martin DB11 V12 Coupe with pro driver Justin Bell at the wheel for closed-course lap times, slalom and wet cornering. And what’d they uncover?
I’ll start my review with a huge thumbs-up to Lexus Hedge End. They’re consistently a pleasure to deal with but this time one of their sales guys and true petrol head, Michael, really pulled out the stops for me... I’ve been given a LC500 as a courtesy car. So, “how does it compare to the GSF on a rain-soaked February afternoon?” I hear you all ask...
Under normal driving, it’s remarkably familiar! The engine is the same 5.0 V8, albeit with twin intakes over the single one of the GSF/RCF. The gearbox is now a 10-speed, with a slightly clumsy new design of shifter, but economy appeared the same. The rear-wheel steering is unusual! Sage advice from a slightly nervous Michael - “take the first few roundabouts gently, and don’t steer as much as you think you need to!” He was right - it feels like the rear wheels are sliding sideways! An odd experience, but ok once you learn to work with it. I believe the rear wheels turn slightly in opposite directions to the fronts at low speeds, effectively shortening the wheelbase - this has the result of making the car feel more like a go-kart, together with the Torque Vectoring Differential. The opposite happens at high speed to increase stability.
Picking the speed up, the twin intakes give the V8 a proper howling scream above 6500rpm with lovely pops and the occasional crackle on a downshift. The car is more of a GT that can be hustled than a sports car - I though it felt it’s weight a bit more than the GSF. The OEM tyres are 21” runflats and provide good, if not exceptional grip - perhaps the non-RFs on the GSF as well as, frankly, me owning rather than borrowing it, allowed me to push the saloon harder. The ride quality is good - only the occasional thump over really bad roads, but I did notice a bit of squirming over undulating poorly maintained tarmac. The brake pedal felt slightly spongy, but the stopping ability was good.
Inside, the seats are just as supportive, the cabin roomy (in the front) and the equipment list is extensive. Many of the features the GSF has buttons for are now incorporated into the computer, which now uses a touch pad to navigate instead of a mouse-lever-platform-type thing. Compared to the (dare I say “corporate”) interior of the GSF, the designers have really cut loose here! They seem to have used every type of material/surface/texture they could get their hands on, with bold, swooping lines devouring the insides of the doors. This is, of course a matter of taste, but I found it a little busy. A few bits of the switchgear are in different places - I particularly like the drive mode selector and the traction control knob to either side of the instrument binnacle - a nice nod to the utterly unobtainable LFA. There’s not much room in the back - it’s a 2+2 at an absolute push - I’d say if the person in the front seat is 6ft+, you’ve just generated a bag storage area behind.
Finally - is this a car I’d look to trade up to? I’m not sure. It’s very good indeed, but apart from the looks, it feels so similar to my GSF (not a bad thing!!), I’d need to think about it more. I’d like to try the hybrid sister LC500h before a firm verdict!
So, there you have it. Enjoy the pictures!
Finally! Apart from the curious 24h Dubai, its seems ages since any sort of motorsport action. And Lexus are in the first big race of the year, the Rolex 24 at Daytona this weekend. Qualifying is taking place as I write this post with 3GT Racing running - as they did in 2017 - two RC-Fs in GT3 spec in what IMSA categorize as 'GTD'. Cars 14 and 15 have strong driver line-ups (with some familiar faces from Blancpain and GT Open) in Kyle Marcelli, Bruno Junqueira, Dominik Baumann and Philipp Frommenwiler in #14, and David Heinemeier Hansson, Jack Hawksworth, Dominik Farnbacher and Scott Pruett in #15. Live streaming will be available at imsatv.imsa.com but as multiple category racing - with GTD the slowest - you'll need to be patient to catch sight of the electric blue Lexus. Hopefully though, they both be running for the full 24 hours each so plenty of opportunity... You can see catch some of the atmosphere from 'The Roar Before The 24' here on YouTube and an article on the Lexus Blog here.
Elsewhere, Emil Frey Racing will be competing (probably ) in the GT Open series they did so well in last year, although they may be planning an assault in the Blancpain series. It's too early to be certain just who will be running the GT3 Lexus in Europe as both series won't be starting until April; more on those in due course.
Also starting in April will be SuperGT in Japan with Lexus represented (as reigning champions) by the GT500 spec LC500s, and hopefully by GT3 spec RC-Fs in the GT300 category.
Those of you looking forward to the rumoured LC500-F might like this article detailing the lightly modified LC500 that will compete in the ADAC 24H of Nurburgring. Will the road going version get that big rear wing, I wonder?
Finallly, next weekend is the hugely enjoyable Bathurst 12 hours, unfortunately without any Lexus involvement but always worth a look. Live streaming should be on their website.
The new breathtaking flagship coupé from Lexus tested and reviewed.
Read our Lexus LC500 review and prepare to want one :D
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