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Strange driving among strange people

Four years ago, before the pandemic could hit, I went to Fukuoka, Japan to drive one of the best sports cars out of ‘Land of the Rising Sun’. The luxury brand Lexus is different from others in the degree of obsession its craftsmen bring to the art of luxurious craftsmanship. And the LC 500h coupe represents the pinnacle of ‘Takumi’ craftsmanship. Many Takumi masters train for nearly 60,000 hours to gain the skills needed to work on the handcrafted elements in every Lexus. While the painting process for each Lexus is complex, the elements in the cabin go even further as they focus on handcrafted perfection.

Starting from the detailed stitching to the origami-inspired pleated leather and fabric, to the polished cut glass trim, Lexus sets a benchmark for the level of attention to detail. The LC 500h sits at the forefront of Lexus and is a lifestyle and performance-oriented sports car that can hold its own when compared to many European brands in its class. It’s also ahead of its time with a 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine and a battery-electric hybrid powertrain, although its more powerful sibling is the LC 500 with its naturally aspirated 5-liter V8. The opportunity to experience the LC 500h in typical Indian neighborhoods a few weeks ago was welcomed by many of the mass-market cars I tested.

With an abundance of light brown alcantara, the cabin exudes elegant yet sporty elegance

With an abundance of light brown alcantara, the cabin exudes elegant yet sporty elegance


The Lexus LC 500h stands out on the road, looking like a dazzling, sparkling perfection in the midst of a flawed blend. It also stands out for being nearly 4.8 meters long, sits low on wide tracks and appears poised to destroy the next drag race. With its long bonnet, exaggerated spindle grille that takes up almost the entire front, and with its sporty coupe styling, the LC 500h’s design perfectly blends Lexus DNA with genes. of sports cars. The Lexus LC replaced the SC, the latter of which was also extremely popular and associated with the legendary Toyota Supra. Lexus calls it a ‘luxury coupe’, but the LC 500h is classified as a ‘grand tourer’ despite its tight and curvaceous proportions.

From an unusual angle, it has a somewhat awkward stance, such as at the rear where the roofline of the C-pillar sticks out and joins the trunk lid. But the design of the LC 500h is bold, aerodynamic and unique. Personally, I prefer the convertible over the fastback coupe. The proportions seem to be ideal when the roof is folded down in the convertible. But convertibles are impractical in the Indian context. The LC 500h that was delivered to me during a long weekend test drive had a shiny red bodywork. There are a number of chrome and black chrome details including the honeycomb grille of the spindle grille, polished alloy wheels, rear diffuser and exhaust tips, as well as headlight trim.

I think they are overkill for a car in this price segment. But they are all very tastefully done and finished. The LC 500h has a long, sloping snout and with a spindle grille that curves appropriately in half to align with the front fender line. The ‘arrowhead’ LED daytime running lights and the trio of projector lamps for the headlights are a dynamic combination, contributing to a distinct, sporty appearance to the front. The dark chrome headlight housing extends down the fender like a tear, giving the front design an instantly recognizable character. The tight passenger compartment is captured by an aerodynamic profile with an inward-sloping A-pillar and a curved roofline that together deliver a classic coupe design impact. At the back, the wide, sturdy slats and the closed trunk lid with a pop-up spoiler make it even more sporty coupe. The taillight design with double tear lines seems to be inspired by the Japanese art of origami. The design creases that run from the taillights and flare out on the rear fender mimic the spindle grille and create a unique frame for the twin exhaust pipes. The retractable rear spoiler pops up or can be deployed at the push of a button for improved downforce at higher speeds.

At the rear, the wide, sturdy slats and the closed trunk lid with a pop-up spoiler give the car a sporty coupe character.

At the rear, the wide, sturdy slats and the closed trunk lid with a pop-up spoiler give the car a sporty coupe character.


The interior of the LC 500h is a testament to ingenuity. With an abundance of light brown alcantara, sprinkled throughout the dashboard, seats, door panels and steering wheel, the cabin has an elegant yet sporty look. The driver and passenger side are clearly divided with great focus on providing the driver with access to all controls. Some of them have been creatively positioned as dials for drive mode, ESC Off and snow mode that can be selected using the protruding scroll buttons on either side of the instrument case. bag. The center console is raised and clearly keeps the front passenger away from the driver. And in case passengers aren’t used to the sports car’s acceleration style, there are handles on the door panel and center console that they can grab.

There’s a very cute combination of stitched leather, dark chrome accents, and shiny metal details. Lots of Japanese influence in the way the cabin is built, with the rest of the configurations drawn from Lexus design. I also feel refreshed when I get back to a car that isn’t so digitally overzealous. The infotainment screen is a small 10-inch; and there’s even an analog clock and multiple control buttons on the dashboard. The interesting analog digital instrument cluster is interchangeable between the two display styles with a variation in the information set provided. The front seats are generously sized and offer both ventilation and heating. However, the rear seats are best avoided. Narrow knee room, relatively low headroom and difficult access after folding the front seats mean they may be suitable only for children. The 13-speaker Mark Levinson sound system is fantastic.


The LC 500h, as the name suggests, uses a hybrid powertrain. Today’s supercars are switching to hybrid engines due to pressure from emissions regulations. Lexus was clearly ahead of its time. For sheer power and driver engagement, the V8 will be the choice, Lexus India isn’t on sale yet. Only the 3.5-liter petrol engine and battery-electric combination are available to buyers here. The hybrid powertrain manages to close the gap in torque that can occur without the output of the electric motor. So while the 3,456 cc V6 makes 295 hp and 356 Nm of torque, the twin electric motors contribute 177 hp and 300 Nm. The combined maximum power of the system is 354 hp and 500 Nm. All of that is brought down the runway using a unique transmission that combines a CVT (continuously variable transmission) and a 4-speed automatic transmission literally embedded in the old transmission. This combination is intended to derive the best performance from the hybrid powertrain. Despite being a CVT transmission, manual transmission selection via steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters allows one person to go through up to 10 positions.

The LC 500h and its V8 cousin were the first to use Lexus’ front-engine, rear-wheel drive platform, which later became the architecture of choice for the brand’s other models. Originally a platform that utilizes materials with low weight and high torsional stiffness, it is further improved on the LC 500h with a low center of gravity resulting from weight distribution and increased light weight by using use carbon fiber (curb weight is about two tons). The battery pack is located on the rear axle and next to the relatively small trunk. The need for a spare wheel has been eliminated with the use of run-flat tires.

The ‘multi-stage’ hybrid system in the LC 500h allows the battery-electric system to function like a series- and parallel-assisted hybrid system. So when I exit the garage, the LC 500h snarls and glides in Pure EV mode, with more demand, the V6 coming to life and, if needed, the parallel engine support. hybrid ensures strong acceleration. Lexus claims that the LC 500h accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in about 5 seconds, and thanks to its instant low-end torque, the hybrid is only slightly slower than the performance of the V8 in the LC 500. But the problem could be with the way the hybrid accelerates. The engine is fine-tuned and can be fun to engage with, although the CVT’s performance isn’t quite as emotional as the powerful ICE V6 with a manual transmission. However, the LC 500h’s powertrain still feels very refined, and manual gearshifts could have been more interesting. Note about the muffled exhaust, a bit like a distant growl when accelerating hard.

Ride quality can be a bit harsh for Indian road conditions, with the impact on the seats coming from a combination of a firm suspension setup and run-flat tyres. The long wheelbase and low ground clearance can also be an issue when negotiating ramps and reducers. But the LC 500h scores well in the handling department with its responsive, precise steering and excellent body control. The wide track and low CG also allow it to be a natural angler.

bottom line

In addition to the eight airbags, the LC 500h comes with a host of other safety features, including a pop-up safety bonnet that absorbs impacts to protect pedestrians in a crash.

At around 2.3 crore (old showroom), the LC 500h isn’t much cheaper than some competing sports cars. Not too many buyers are drawn to the prospect of fewer fuel pumps. So in the end, the fact that it is a purebred Lexus and that it is an exotic car among exotic cars must work in its favor.

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