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Can a car company show off? It seems absurd; the kind of embarrassing, unedifying behaviour that only ego-driven, status-obsessed human beings engage in.
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For those merely gazing up to the lofty, ivory-tipped towers of high society, it would be easy to think that the mere ownership of a plush, premium vehicle, like the Lexus LC 500h for example, is a reward in and of itself.
The truth, though, is that Australia's premium manufacturers then sweeten the ownership pot even further, often inviting new owners into a secret club filled with tickets to exclusive events, seats at the fanciest of dining tables and concierge-style car maintenance, to name but a few of the perks on offer.
Lexus, though, sits atop the pile when it comes to offering ownership perks to its owners, and now more than ever, with the brand's existing Encore Club today welcoming a new and more-exclusive tier, called Encore Platinum.
We'll circle back to all of this under our 'Ownership' sub heading, but the short answer is that anyone who has bought a RC F, GS F, LX, LS or LC, like this 500h, since January 1 this year is automatically signed up, and is in line for some serious goodies.
Perhaps the most pressing question, though, is will it be the new ownership program that lures customers into a LC 500h? Or can the luxurious Lexus performance coupe stand on its own four wheels?
Let's find out.
|Lexus LC 2020: LC500H V6|
|Fuel Type||Hybrid with Premium Unleaded|
Value is all about perspective, of course, and viewed the right way, the $195k sticker price of the Lexus LC 500h does provide a certain amount of value.
Yes, it's a lot of money. But Lexus' flagship coupe doesn't just get a performance-focused hybrid setup (pairing with a thumping V6 engine), but also just about every high-end feature the brand has in its deep bag of tricks.
It starts outside with giant 21-inch alloys, a glass roof with a sun blind, LED headlights with cornering lights, hidden door handles, keyless entry, and rain-sensing wipers.
Inside, you'll find leather-accented seats, a colour head-up display, a 10.3-inch multimedia screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, another 8.0-inch screen in the driver's binnacle, a heated steering wheel, heated and cooled front seats, DAB+, satellite navigation system with live traffic, and a killer 13-speaker, 918-watt Mark Levinson stereo.
It's a little curious, the LC 500h. For mine, it's stunning from a distance. All gleaming alloys and bulging rear arches and sharp snout angled downward like its caught the scent of its prey.
But weirdly, it can start to look a little less impressive the closer you get to it - a little swollen and vague in its lines. It's very likely it's eye-of-the-beholder stuff (fellow CarsGuide scribe Richard Berry adores it from every angle, for example).
Inside, the front of the cabin is a busy but stylish space, with multiple textures layered on top of each other to produce a premium-feeling, sporty space. The low-feeling dash juts out, giving the front passengers an ensconced, cockpit feel.
Everything is predictably leather-wrapped and lovely, and while it's not as streamlined as, say, an Audi interior, it's not without a genuine sense of Japanese charm in the cabin.
It's not really. Especially in the backseats, which would make more sense if they were painted on. I'm no giant, but even my 175cm-tall head was pushed into the ceiling, and while there’s ample shoulder space for two adults, you’re unlikely to be able to convince two to get back there.
Lexus has included something called the "Easy Access" function for 2020, which sees the front seats slide forward automatically to help with accessing the rear seats, and they do lower the Cirque du Soleil antics required to get back there, but this realistically not a car for carrying more than two adults, save an emergency. There are two ISOFIX attachment points in the rear, so child seats can be locked in there.
That's not necessarily a drawback, though. This is a two-door sporty coupe, after all, and elsewhere, the sizeable dimensions (4770mm length x 1920mm width x 1345mm height) provide plenty of space for up-front riders.
You'll also find hidden cupholders, bottle holders in the doors, and all the power and connection points you need.
A word on the tech, though. The LC 500h is crying out for a touch screen, though the brand's traditional mousepad system is improving.
The LC 500h is powered by a hybrid setup that combines a 3.5-litre V6 engine with a 650-volt "Lexus Hybrid Drive" system and a lithium-ion battery. That setup delivers 264kW of power, and somewhere north of 350Nm in torque when the engine and motor outputs combine.
That power is sent to the rear wheels via a CVT automatic, and will produce a sprint to 100km/h of around 5.0 seconds.
According to Lexus, 10 clear improvements were made the way the 2020 LC 500h drives, including a new transmission tune, more structural bracing added for rigidity, new suspension components and spring rates, and altered stabiliser bars.
Has it made a difference? Read on.
Lexus says the LC 500h will sip 6.8 litres per hundred kilometres on the combined cycle - very impressive for what is ostensibly a performance coupe - and emit 152g/km.
The LC 500h is equipped with an 82-litre fuel tank.
There’s something very strange about hitting the start button in what is ostensibly a sports car, and being greeted not by the bark of an exhaust, but by the gentle whirring on the car’s electronics coming to life.
But then, the Lexus LC500h is not your average performance car.
It essentially trades the out-and-out grunt of its V8-powered sibling (which produces a monstrous 351kW and 540Nm) for a kind of best-of-both-worlds approach that pairs the punch of the V6 engine with the fuel efficiency of a hybrid powertrain.
If that sounds like an compromised approach to pure performance, you're right. But reframe the way you look at the LC 500h and it all starts to make a bit more sense.
Remember, this isn't a track-attack weapon, but a potent on-road bruiser, and the flow of power on offer always feels ample, and you never want for too much more off-the-line pace on public roads.
Among the biggest selling points of the LC 500h is the sheer distance between its various personalities. Engage Eco, or even Normal, drive modes, and it’s a quiet, mostly very comfortable (though it can be unsettled by bigger bumps) kilometre-eater, but engage Sport or Sport Plus and it rightly transforms into something significantly angrier.
It might not be the absolute sharpest tool in the performance car shed, but the LC 500h does bristle nicely when those modes are engaged, the hybrid factor seemingly replaced by a satisfyingly meaty exhaust note and an accelerator that’s suddenly far more sensitive to the touch.
The steering feel is nice and the inputs direct, but there is something about the car’s 1980kg weight that doesn’t inspire the deepest of confidence, at least not on the rain-slicked roads we were travelling along .
A pure performance coupe? Perhaps not. But a sporty, stylish and, when you want it to be, comfortable cruiser with the ability to turn the volume up when you come across a twisting road? Bingo.
4 years / 100,000 km warranty
The Lexus LC 500h is yet to be ANCAP tested (the price would likely prove a sticking point), but the Japanese brand has fine form in attracting top marks, and there's certainly no shortage of safety features on offer here.
There's a total eight airbags and a reversing camera and parking sensors, as well as a host of high-tech kit like AEB, Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Monitoring, active cruiser control and a bonnet that will sense pedestrian and pop up before impact in an attempt to minimise injury.
So, to ownership. Let's start with the basics first, before we move onto the new Encore Platinum benefits.
You will know already the Lexus's stellar Encore ownership program includes handy features like valet (pick-up and drop-off) servicing, but the new Encore Platinum level for owners of its more exclusive models unlocks some seriously cool stuff.
One is a new On Demand service, which allows owners to book a different style of car when heading off on a holiday or business trip. So, say you own the LC 500h, but want to take the family to the snow and need a seven-seat 4WD like the RX L, then Lexus will lend you one at no charge, which you can keep for eight days.
The loans are available in your state or somewhere else in Australia if you're travelling, with your car waiting for you at Qantas Valet for you when you arrive.
The One Demand service is available on four occasions over your first three years of ownership (which is also the length of the Encore Platinum membership).
The Platinum level also provides eight examples of free valet parking at select shopping centres, as well as hotel and restaurant benefits, and invitations to Lexus' drive days around the country.
A truly fuel-efficient performance car, who’d have thought? There are some obvious trade-offs for trying to exist in two seperate worlds, but the Lexus LC 500h largely handles its dual roles with aplomb.
|LC500 Luxury||5.0L, PULP, A SP AUTO||$181,500 – 229,460||2020 Lexus LC 2020 LC500 Luxury Pricing and Specs|
|LC500 Luxury + Ochre Trim||5.0L, PULP, A SP AUTO||$181,500 – 229,460||2020 Lexus LC 2020 LC500 Luxury + Ochre Trim Pricing and Specs|
|LC500 Structural Blue Limited Edtn||5.0L, PULP, A SP AUTO||$198,500 – 251,020||2020 Lexus LC 2020 LC500 Structural Blue Limited Edtn Pricing and Specs|
|LC500 Limited Edition (inscription)||5.0L, PULP, 1 SP AUTO||$165,500 – 209,000||2020 Lexus LC 2020 LC500 Limited Edition (inscription) Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||7|
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