Lexus LC

Based on the LF-LC concept that debuted in 2012, the Lexus LC is poised to lead the brand in a new performance direction. With a nod toward the hand-built LFA supercar of 2010, Lexus calls the LC a "concept car come to life," and the flagship coupe marries incredible design and performance with luxurious comfort and the excellent build quality for which Lexus has become synonymous.

The LC is built on the new GA-L platform (for "Global Architecture--Luxury"), which also underpins the 2018 LS sedan, and which Lexus plans to use in forthcoming front engine/rear-drive models. The front end is instantly recognizable as a Lexus thanks to its spindle grille. The rest of the car's dramatic lines flow from there and create stunning look no matter the angle. Meanwhile, the LC's underbody is completely flat and incorporates the rear muffler as a diffuser, all of which aids in aerodynamic stability at speed.

Power for the LC 500 comes from a naturally aspirated 5.0L V8 that can wind all the way up to a 7,300-rpm redline. Output is rated at 471-horsepower, with peak torque of 398 lb-ft. Power is put to the rear wheels through a 10-speed automatic transmission, with magnesium paddles for manual shifting. Drive Mode Select allows the driver to customize the LC's throttle, transmission, and suspension responsiveness depending on the situation. When navigating the system, drivers can also adjust the exhaust sounds thanks to Active Exhaust.

Lexus claims the LC will hit 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds.

In the LC 500h, the Multi Stage Hybrid System pairs a 3.5L V6 gasoline engine with two electric motors, for a combined 354 horsepower. Also paired in the LC 500h is a planetary-type continuously variable transmission as well as a 4-speed automatic. The two units work in harmony to amplify the V6 output over the entire rev range.

The Lexus LC 500 and LC 500h both ride on standard 20-inch wheels and both employ large 6-piston front brake calipers and four-piston rears. An adjustable double-joint multilink suspension and low unsprung weight offer exceptional agility and ultra-quick steering response.

The LC 500 and LC 500h come in one trim each, and standard features include LED head and taillights, automatic high beams, auto-dimming heated mirrors and keyless entry. Inside, the cars feature a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, eight-inch driver information screen, adaptive cruise control, 8-way power-adjustable heated and ventilated leather front seats, navigation and a 12-speaker audio system that includes satellite radio. A lane departure warning, rearview camera, and pre-collision warning system account for the LC's advanced safety features.

Available performance upgrades include 21-inch wheels, a speed-activated rear wing, and a Torsen limited-slip rear differential. A Touring Package adds upgraded leather upholstery, a faux suede headliner, and a 13-speaker Mark Levinson audio system. A Convenience Package brings a blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, and front and rear parking sensors. If the LC isn't sporty enough, a Sport Package adds all the features of the two above packages plus sport seating and the limited-slip differential. Finally, a Performance Package builds on the Sport Package with a carbon fiber roof, adaptive rear spoiler, active rear steering and more.

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Editors' First Take

A famous car designer once told me that styling a convertible is his profession's toughest task. "Droptops force us to leave a big damned hole in the middle, yet we still have to find a way to make them sexy," he said. Admittedly, we were a few cocktails into a launch dinner for a car that wasn't this 2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible, but the man's point stands. For one thing, it's gotta be easier to draw a coupe or a hatchback, because their rooflines not only help provide visual directional thrust, they don't require finding a way to package a retractable top. Perhaps most importantly, designers and engineers of fixed-roof models also don't have to make a convincing visual statement that works two ways: top up and top down. 

To be clear, my designer friend has never lifted a pen for Lexus, but clearly, Toyota's luxury division ought to sympathize. Indeed, the brand hasn't always gotten convertibles right (one look at the ill-proportioned 2010-2015 IS droptop would be all the evidence needed for that particular court case). But this 2021 Lexus LC 500? It's something else entirely: an absolute stunner. I'll go a step further. I think this is one of the best-looking cars on the road at any price, and that goes for this new droptop and its fixed-roof relation. 

Unexpected grace

That the LC is so gorgeous is even more remarkable because, for my money, it's the only beautiful Lexus conceived during the company's entire Spindle Grille Era. Whereas other Lexuses too often mistake aggression for beauty, the LC manages to conjure up both traits largely without relying on the easy crutch of exaggerated features and excessive body lines. This is a car whose aesthetics will age very well over time. It's not just its classic long-hood, short-deck proportions and overall form, although those certainly help. From the LC's grille texturing to its mesmerizing infinity-lens taillamps, this car isn't just a snack, it's a proper feast. 

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