2018 Lexus LC 500: The car that wasn’t supposed to exist

2018 Lexus LC 500 (Sinclair Broadcast Group / Jill Ciminillo)

I remember when Akio Toyoda revealed the Lexus LC at the 2016 North American International Auto Show. The crowd of journalists was stunned. The LC was a concept car not meant for actual production.

Until it was.

And if you look at the concept versus the production vehicle, there aren’t too many differences -- which is an added bonus.

The LC has become a halo vehicle for Toyota’s luxury brand, and the real shocker is the drive is just as amazing as its looks.

It’s fast and smooth in all the right places, yet it handles curves and corners with gleeful confidence.

I first had a chance to drive the LC 500 on the racetrack at Road America during the Midwest Automotive Media Association Spring Rally, and “gleeful” just barely touches on the feeling it inspires while driving it in tough and technical track situations.

Equipped with a 5.0-liter V-8 that delivers 471 horsepower and 396 pound-feet of torque, it has the kind of effortless acceleration that leaves you breathless. Plus the Sport + mode creates a handling situation that makes you feel like a pro driver.

When I had the LC 500 for a full-week test, I expected the extended drive time to chip away at the high opinion I’d gleaned after a 20-minute jaunt last spring.

But it didn’t.

I took a small road trip in the sports coupe, and I found that the Alcantara sports seats were just as comfortable after 2-1/2 hours as they were for 20 minutes. I also appreciated the various drive modes from Normal to Sport +. Normal kept things comfy for rough-hewn pavement, and Sport + kept things fun for aggressive highway maneuvers.

There is even an Eco mode, but I’ll be honest, I didn’t touch that button except to take a photo of the behind-the-wheel gauge panel in Eco mode.

The test period was full of double takes because the design is so un-Lexus-like. From the stunning execution of the spindle grille to the mesmerizing taillights, more than one person couldn’t believe the vehicle I was driving belonged to Lexus.

My running pals all needed to take a turn sitting in the drivers seat and adjusting the mirrors, and the valets at hotels and restaurants literally ran to grab my keys.

I didn’t blame any of them.

Really, the only thing I didn’t love on the LC 500 was the Lexus track pad that controls the infotainment system. I know a lot of my automotive journalist brethren lambast this feature, but I only found it mildly annoying. It worked fine; it’s just a little counter-intuitive as you want to reach out and touch a visual screen on the center stack, not a black imageless pad next to the gear shift.

The bottom line

If you have $100K to spend on a car, the LC 500 is pure joy. It’s fun to drive and sinfully gorgeous, wrapped in a tight package.

Base price for the LC 500 is $92,000, but the test vehicle added about $13K in options, including a heated steering wheel, blind spot monitoring, Mark Levinson premium audio, premium paint and the performance package. So the as-tested price was $105,060.

The carbon fiber accents included in the Performance Package was a nice touch. I thought this was the right packaging, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Crazy beautiful design backed by reliable Toyota engineering seems like a win-win to me.

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