Stylish new Lexus coupe sports eight cylinders, ten gears

With the LC 500, introduced at the Detroit auto show, Lexus turns away from practicality in favor of a sporty little 2+2 seater.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
2 min read

Lexus' fight against its grandparents' car reputation previously resulted in the LFA super car and, more recently the RC 350, a nice little sport coupe. At the Detroit auto show, Lexus picks up a thread from the past, nodding to its older SC 430 model with the all new LC 500 coupe, its latest salvo that may shift its brand perception more towards the skateboard set.

Like the SC 350, the LC 500's coupe-style body enfolds 2+2 seating, with minimal room for rear passengers and not much access for fitting in a baby seat. An arched body line and oversized wheels give the LC 500 an athletic look, while the massive Lexus spindle grille dominates the front. And while its brand ancestor is the SC, it certainly looks to have been inspired by the Toyota Supra.

Lexus revives style, sport, with LC 500 coupe (pictures)

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Without having to add an F to its model name, the LC 500 gets the same 5-liter V-8 engine as the RC F and GS F. That naturally-aspirated mill makes 467 horsepower and 389 pound-feet of torque, putting that power to the rear wheels through a 10-speed automatic transmission. That is a lot of cogs, but Lexus notes that it shifts as fast as a dual clutch transmission and weighs less than some eight speed automatics.

Further, Lexus notes the car's stiffness as surpassing that of any of its previous models. Doors made of aluminum and carbon fiber help keep weight down, which should lend to nimble handling.

Watch this: Lexus LC 500 brings concept to reality in Detroit

The interior highlights Lexus brand luxury, overdone with sheets of leather, contributing to a look that may take the LC 500 out of the pricing league of actual youth. The thick steering wheel offers plenty of grip for high-speed handling, with paddles mounted behind to toggle through those 10 gears, if you're so inclined.

On the console, Lexus deviates from the Remote Touch electronics interface controller it uses in other models, here opting for a touch pad and dial, similar to Audi and BMW. This new controller would be a welcome change across the Lexus line-up, as the Remote Touch controller feels imprecise.

The LC 500 is truly a desirable design, something many will find unexpected on a Lexus lot. It will give Lexus owners a model in which to exercise their midlife crisis issues, without having to turn to another brand. And if its performance lives up to expectations, it might give Lexus the sport reputation is so desires.