London: The Lexus LC500 is aiming to be the sports grand tourer, which finally brings the fight to the established rivals.
And on first impressions it is a serious contender to steal sales from the Porsche 911 , Jaguar F-Type and Mercedes AMG. The shimmering Naples yellow paint job and 5.0 litre V8 of our test LC definitely make a statement of intent.
Sure sitting just off the ground in the low-slung seat some of the technology and switch gear is recognisable – but that is about the only thing it shares with a Prius .
But to be fair there is also Hybrid LC that uses a 3.5l V6 and an electric motor.
The most striking difference in the LC500 is that there is a thumping 471 bhp petrol engine under the bonnet.
It is a ‘proper’ sports car with the engine at the front and the drive going to the rear wheels only.
There is no turbo charger either which leads to a beautifully linear power delivery as you chase the rev counter up to the 7,200 limit. It is a unit that encourages you to rev it, as peak torque of 540Nm is not delivered until 4,800rpm.
Initial shove is not as intense as we are used to with modern turbos. Ironically it even seems a bit laggy, like turbo engines used to be.
But after a second, the torque kicks in and it picks up pace with abandon. Top speed is 168mph and 0-62 is 4.4 seconds.
Pressing the Start button wakes it up with an echoing rumble, louder that an M4 or RS5 but quieter than an F-Type or R8.
The gearbox is a ten, yes ten, speed automatic which shifts so sublimely and with such frequency that you need to look at the digital read out to check what ratio you are in.
There are also magnesium steering wheel paddles to for the driver to take charge of the swapping. While it’s good fun in the lower gears, as the ratios are so closely stacked the work involved to keep it up for any period of time becomes wearisome.
In contrary, the way it looks is a long way from boredom inducing. It is the best looking Lexus since the legendary LFA.
The type of car that looks like a prototype that has actually survived the production process .
The stance is very low, with the roofline at just 134cm. The huge gaping 3D spindle front grill, triangular headlights and air vents give the LC real attitude.
At the back are a riot of sharp angle and trapezium shapes, that even after a week I could not accurately picture without looking back.
It definitely turns heads on the road and is far rarer than a 911, an F-TYPE and even an Aston Martin Vantage.
Our came with the optional Sport + Pack which upped the wheels by an inch to huge 21” chrome rims.
It also adds a Limited Slip Differential, retractable rear spoiler, 4-wheel steering, Variable Gear Ratio Steering and beautifully crafted Alcantara front sports seats.
Just for the record there are two seats in the back, but if the driver is approaching 6ft, leg room behind disappears.
But the fit and finish is top notch from the scalloped panels in the door cards to the hushed cabin.
Lexus are sticking with their trackpad system for controlling many of the cars functions.
I was cursing it at the start of the week on a freezing cold morning when I could not find the sub-menu to turn on the heated seat or steering wheel.
But seven days in, it almost started to make sense. Especially when you learn how to split the screen to take car of two tasks, say heating and sat nav, at once.
Generous standard kit includes 3 Bi-LED headlights, keyless entry, Lexus Premium Navigation with touch screen, reversing camera and adaptive cruise control.
The LC has driver modes that you actually want to use and can see the step changes on the car’s behaviour. They run up from Eco, Normal, Sport S and Sport S+.
Eco is best for if you are on a unhurried motorway cruise without out any need for sudden acceleration. It may even get you near the claimed combined 24.4mpg figure.
Default mode on start up is Normal, which is fine for most driving holding on to gears during acceleration and keeping the ride supple.
But Sport + is where the fun is at. Along with glowing red dials and firmer ride, it slackens off the the traction control to a life-affirming level.
Maybe they do health and safety differently in Japan.
Turn in sharply on a wet roundabout and give it the beans and the back will step out at will as the LC tries to swap ends.
You can even totally disable the electronic safety net apparently, but that is best left to track work.
The LC hits many sweets spots – looks, performance and build quality.
Many cars out there can better its vital stats for brute power and speed. But few do it in such a way that they get under your skin while you are doing it.
With all this going for it who says owning a sports car can’t be the sensible choice.
Engine: V5 5.0litre naturally aspirated
Power: 471 bhp
Top speed: 168mph
0-62mph: 4.4 seconds
Gearbox: 10-speed automatic
Consumption: 24.4 (combined)
CO2: 267 g/km