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New Lexus LC 500: 'A beautiful brute in a suit'

2017-07-23 00:00

Image: Quickpic

Melinda Ferguson

Lexus LC 500
Price: R1 729 600
Five stars

Cape Town - It’s not often I fall for a car before I’ve actually driven it. But this happened at the recent unveiling of the Lexus LC 500, the most anticipated concept-turned-production car to come out of Lexus, the luxury stable of Toyota, since the sporty demon – the LFA.

There was palpable excitement in the boardroom at Leeu Estates – the exclusive Franschhoek boutique hotel owned by billionaire Indian businessman Analjit Singh – as senior technical trainer at Toyota Europe, Stefan Ramaekers, began his presentation.

I’ve never been too big on chassis or suspension but Ramaekers made it all so damn accessible. Once he finished, I was literally salivating to get behind the wheel and take a spin on a rain-drenched, misty Franschhoek Pass.

Sumptuous steering

And boy, was Ramaekers right!

To drive a car like this can only be described as heavenly inspired. Instead of being driven or languishing back as a casual observer, the car drives with you. In fact, there were times when the LC 500 and I were like one, and that’s no shwarmy exaggeration. Next was the race track at L’Ormarins, Anthonij Rupert’s pad and home to the Franschhoek Motor Museum.

Earlier, Ramaekers had waxed lyrical on weight distribution, chassis and centre point of gravity, but it was when doing laps on the track that I got to experience it all coming together. In simple terms, the engine of the LC 500 has been mounted really low and as far back as possible. Lightness, by way of the roof, door panels and the boot floor being made from carbon fibre, has been achieved, while both the suspension and chassis are primarily aluminum. Weight distribution has been finely tuned – even the battery sits snugly in the boot – and this all combines to create a centre of gravity just 510mm from the ground. (Note to self: do not, I repeat, do not navigate this car up steep, uneven driveways).

The sound of thunder

But it is the sound that is the LC 500’s denouement. If I could liken the LC 500 to a classical composer it would have to be the ground-breaking Beethoven, whose music – with all its highs, lows, swells, crescendos and exhilarating drama – can never be listened to in the background, you have to immerse yourself in and listen. So too with the LC 500. Growling, roaring, thundering – it’s show-stopping stuff.

Amazingly, I haven’t even got to the LC’s time machine-esque looks.

Built on an entirely new GA–L (Global Architecture – Luxury) platform, the LC 500 is all striking lines, with superior coupe-like proportions and a seductive, snarlish rear. Inside, the tan leather seats with red trim and space age-like minimalist design all breathe premium class. Looks alone put the LC 500 in the same class as the best of Italian or German luxury.

If I had to find a tiny gripe, it would have to be the somewhat fiddly trackpad connected to the impressive interface. But with a bit of practice, one soon gets the hang of it.

Award-winning

First seen as the Lexus LC, a production model at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, it’s taken under a year for this metal magnificence to hit local stores. Earlier this year, the Car Design of the Year Awards in Geneva recognised the LC 500 as 2016 Production Car Design of the Year. So, if you’re in the market for wheels that cost almost two bars, you’d better put your order in, as this brute in a suit could rocket out of showrooms

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