Lexus joins the fast lane to challenge big names
The LC500 is a welcome arrival to the grand tourer market, writes Martin Brennan
Lexus is accelerating into the fast lane with the arrival of the LC500 luxury grand tourer which will challenge European top models such as the BMW 6 Series, Jaguar S-Type and Porsche 911. It arrives here as Brexit uncertainty and falling sterling hits new car sales and "value for money" imports flood into the country.
But the LC500 is one of the bright spots for Lexus/Toyota importers. A man walked into a south Dublin dealership and wrote a cheque for €125,500 this month to snap up one of the four models which will be allocated to the Irish marker this year. Next year, there will be 12 models available - some are on order and there is strong expressions of interest for the remainder.
The LC500 luxury coupe comes with a choice of engines and three levels of trim. The more powerful 5 litre V8 with 477bhp and 549NM of torque (0-100km in 4.7 secs) through a 10-speed automatic transmission (€2,350 road tax) has prices starting at €137,950 for the luxury version, rising to €146,250 for the Sport and €155,250 for the Sport Plus.
Here the V6 hybrid 3.5 litre 295bhp with a combined output of 354bhp will be the more popular choice with prices starting at €110,950 and rising to €146,250 and €155,250. The hybrid cuts road tax to €390 but the claimed 0-100 sprint is claimed to be just five seconds - a fraction over the V8 option. For the hybrid, Lexus has introduced a new 10-speed gearbox - in simple terms a combination of dual clutch and continuously variable automatic transmission.
The 2x2 seating provides great space up front with the sleek lines compromising rear legroom and boot space. Leather and soft furnishings are the order of the day for grand touring. Air conditioned seats add to the comfort for occupants while the driver enjoys the fast acceleration from the front-engine rear-wheel drive configuration.
Lexus claims up to 44mpg for the hybrid version but in real terms and with new calculations coming into force, the realistic figure will be much lower, particularly as anybody who pays over €100,000 for a performance car will not be light-footed behind the wheel. Those who choose the raw power of the V8 will genuflect every time they see a filling station.
Lexus has a new luxury LS model arriving here in December.
There is also an LSA500, and at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show, there will be the updated versions of the NX SUV and CT mid-sized hatch which get a facelift.