Lexus LC500 VS Mercedes-Benz C63
- Superb driving dynamics
- Stunning concept-like styling
- Good value
- Cramped back seats
- Poor storage space
- Touch pad controller
- Amazing power
- Addictive sound
- Impressive to drive in most situations
- Price is high
- Still not 100 per cent on the Coupe’s looks
- No applicable ANCAP score
It was in the car park of a well-known hardware chain (that also happens to be famous for sausage sizzles) that it happened. I was closing the boot lid of the Lexus LC500 when a grinning, middle-aged bloke - arms almost breaking under bags of cow manure - waddled past me and said: “I’d so have this over a Porsche 911. Any day.”
That was the kind of reaction the LC500 provoked wherever I took it, and by the end of my week with it I had became convinced that this was one of the best sports cars I'd driven in my eight years of reviewing cars.
Not quite... because while that sounds like the final verdict rather than an introduction to a review, there's more to it. See, while there's so much that I love about the LC500, there are other parts that would make me think twice about getting one.
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If you know the Mercedes-AMG C 63 S, you know it’s a hardcore V8 thumper with little in the way of bashfulness. It’s a brawler. A beast.
Now there’s an even more eye-catching AMG C 63 S Coupe, which we’re testing here. It’s the Aero Edition - a collector’s version of the current-generation C 63 S Coupe with a bit more visual bling that also helps it stick to the road better.
It is a local area special edition, with only 63 examples to be sold across Australia and New Zealand. And if the rumours are true, the next-generation will see the V8 engine in danger of being axed in favour of a hybrid, high-performance four-cylinder version. Say it ain’t so!
Well, if the CarsGuide crystal ball turns out to be right, maybe one of these C 63 S Aero Editions is worth getting in your garage quick-smart. Or is it? Let’s go through the criteria and see how it stacks up.
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The LC500 is good value and superb to drive – from its comfortable ride to its great handling - offering an outstanding and engaging experience. There are a few reminders of its lower-brow connections, such as the media unit and that touch pad controller which is really frustrating to use.
The LC500 is also less practical than some of its rivals. Yes, it’s a sports car, but it’s a luxurious one and should offer better cabin storage as a modern grand tourer.
That said, the LC500 proves that you don’t need to spend any more than $200K to have an exceptional driving experience.
Is the LC500 the smartest luxury sports car buy on the market? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
The Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Aero Edition is an absolute beast of a car, but it comes at a pretty hefty price. Yes you get a lot of performance, and the fact there are only 63 examples being made for Australia and New Zealand could be enough to get you to sign on the line. For me, though, if I was after a C 63, it’d have to be a wagon. It doesn’t need an Aero pack to look better.
Just look at it. Even in the extremely ordinary photos I took in a hurry before the sky fell in, you can see that the LC500 is absolutely drool-inducing. It's gothic-meets-the-21st-century-meets-1980s-Miami-Vice styling, and it all works superbly.
Even better, it still retains the almost impossible looks we saw when the LC500 Concept debuted at the Detroit motor show in 2016. And yes, there's more than a passing resemblance to the Lexus LFA supercar from 2011.
Low at just 1.3m tall, wide at 2m across, and long at 4.8m, the LC500 is all bonnet and hips and giant 21-inch rims that tuck into those enormous arches.
I was also taken by the tear-drop styling to the head- and taillights, and that now familiar spindle grille looks more at home on this Lexus than on any other. The door handles which sit flush against the body of the car and pop out when you poke them are also a nice touch.
The LC500 we tested was fitted with the $15,000 Enhancement Pack, which includes the carbon roof, active rear wing, carbon interior scuff plates, leather-and-Alcantara seats and a rear-wheel steering system.
The cabin can't quite match the exterior for its stunning looks, but it’s still special, from those elegant door handles and the stitched upholstery to the thickly bolstered seats that you drop down deeply into.
There is some Toyota/Lexus ordinariness in the cabin, though, such as the screen, which while wide and majestic, is more Microsoft than Apple if you get what I mean. And that also goes for the media unit, too, and that controller pad with its silly PC-style curser.
I’ve never been the biggest fan of the current C-Class Coupe’s styling. To me, it has always looked a little droopy, a little melted at the back.
I have to say, the Aero Edition has changed my opinion somewhat, as the new graphic elements help lift it up a bit, visually raising its rear up like a stretching cat, tail in the air. I’m still not 100 per cent on it, but to my eye it’s better.
The carbon-fibre trim elements that have been added to the exterior certainly add some menace to the look, too, and I simply can’t help but constantly notice out of the corner of my eye the AMG pressing in the staggered, dished rims. At a glimpse, from a distance, it looks like rim damage, but thankfully it’s not!
The staggered set-up does really add some width and mongrel to the look, as if it needed more, with its open maw lower bumper air dam, and the signature 'Panamericana' grille treatment which looks like an evil character out of a movie. If you know the one I’m talking about, let me know in the comments.
As much as the look matters when it’s parked in your driveway, it’s the cabin that arguably matters more, right? That’s where you spend your time, after all. Check out the interior images to see if you think it lives up to the exterior look.
It's not. The boot is small at 197L, while cabin storage is almost non-existent with a tiny centre console bin, no cupholders, narrow door pockets and a small glovebox.
As for people space, the LC500 is a 2+2 seater and those back seats are impossible for me to sit in thanks to the low roof and the zero legroom behind my driving position. With a bit of wrestling I did manage to fit a booster sit in there for my four year old.
For charging you'll find a USB port and a 12V outlet up front.
Yes, it's a sportscar but the Lexus LC500 needs a re-think when it comes to storage and space. Other sports cars (a 911 for example) are more practical. As a parent, this impracticality would see it off my shopping list.
No two-door coupe is going to offer you the space and comfort of a sedan or wagon, that’s just a fact. But that only matters if you plan to actually use the rear seats. If you don’t, then the Coupe version of the C 63 S might be perfect for you.
Even so, I managed to (only just) squeeze myself between the seat and the door opening to slide into the rear row. This won’t be easily achieved by all attempters, especially on the driver’s side.
Let’s just say I probably looked like I was doing something very weird to the driver’s seat as I spider-manned my way in.
The rear space is tight for someone my height (182cm/6’0”) behind their own driving position, with knees hard-up against the seat in front and not much headroom (my noggin’ was brushing the ceiling) or toe space (size 12s don’t fit so well) to speak of.
It’s certainly a selfish car. Or maybe it’d be fine for smaller kids. There are two spaces in the back, both with ISOFIX child seat anchors and top-tether points.
But there is storage in the back - cupholders and storage caddies either side of the seats, though the storage situation improves in the front zone, with bottle holders in the doors, cupholders between the seats, loose item storage under the media screen and a covered centre armrest bin, too.
The front cabin is a special looking place, with carbon-fibre abounding across the dash and nice trim on the doors. The AMG steering wheel is a sight to behold - it’s a flat-bottomed unit with carbon-fibre and Dinamica (that’s Benz talk for microsuede) trim: perfect for sapping sweat as you manhandle the C63 through the bends.
The seats are AMG Performance sports units up front, and the trim used is reserved for this model specifically: Nappa leather with yellow stripes. There are yellow details elsewhere, including on the rear seats, centre console and dash, and it certainly adds some visual excitement.
Media is controlled by a 10.25-inch display and Mercedes-Benz’s touchpad control system, but there is no touchscreen - rendering the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring technology somewhat tedious.
I’ve always had a gripe with screens that don’t allow touch but feature the tech that’s designed to transfer your phone’s screen to the media unit, and I can tell you the longer you spend twiddling the dial to get where you want to go, the more annoying it becomes.
The Burmester sound system has 13 speakers and is rather good, but I prefer the sound from the standard fit variable sports exhaust. So maybe that quibble with CarPlay isn’t that big a deal.
And if you just want to charge your phone, and there’s a second USB port up front, as well. Note: in non-Aero Edition C 63 models without the carbon-fibre interior pack, you also get Qi wireless phone charging, but it’s deleted from this variant and any model with the carbon pack.
The driver has a 12.3-inch digital info display to show where you are and what the car is up to, and there’s a head-up display as well. Yep, there’s standard sat nav with live traffic updates (and even live fuel price updates) - it’s just a shame the maps still look early 2000s-spec in 2D layout.
Cargo space is okay. The claimed cargo capacity or boot volume is 355 litres (VDA) with the rear seats in place. That’s small for a coupe of this size, and the shape of the boot (with a hump behind the rear seat) isn’t great as things do move around quite a bit.
But, thankfully, Mercedes has included its clever foldable storage box system under the boot floor - it goes where you might usually expect a spare wheel, but there isn’t one in this car. Instead you get Mercedes’ 'Tirefit' repair kit with an electric pump.
Price and features
The LC500 lists for $190,000. That's peanuts considering you can pay a lot more than this for a sportscar from another brand that doesn't feel as good to drive.
The extensive standard features list includes a 13-speaker Mark Levinson stereo, a 10.3-inch display, head-up display, dual-zone climate control, proximity key, leather upholstery with heated front seats, stainless steel pedals, LED headlights.
Our test car was also fitted with the $15,000 Enhancement Pack - worth it I think, and you can read what it adds above in the section on design.
The LC500 is a lot less expensive than the cars it takes aim at - we're talking the Porsche 911 (the most affordable is about $240K to get on the road), the Jaguar F-Type V8 R (which lists for about $250K) and the BMW 850i (with a list price of about $273K).
It's safe to say that buyers looking at a 911 are not going to be looking at a LC500. But somebody checking out a BMW 640i Gran Coupe, which lists for $185,900, should know they can get more firepower and luxury in the LC500 for just five grand extra. Same goes for anybody considering the F-Type V6 R-Dynamic or Mercedes-AMG E53.
Remember at the start how I said there were some aspects that would make me think twice about getting an LC500. Well the media unit’s ‘Remote Touchpad’ and the joystick is up there as the most frustrating interface I’ve ever used. Not only is the infotainment menu confusing and non-intuitive, the uncoordinated controller makes the entire user experience dreadful. And I’m being nice.
Look, I’m not likely to ever be in the position to say that a car that costs $188,600 plus on-road costs is “good value”, but to be honest, if you’re in that position, you’ll be getting plenty of car for your cash.
The Carbon Edition of the C 63 S Coupe adds $17,200 over the standard version of the high-performance two-door, but it adds a bunch of extras to help justify its price. A car like this is always going to be seen by some as a profligate purchase, right? You need to be able to justify spending an extra MG3’s worth of cash on this Edition.
The noticeable exterior bits include an AMG Performance rear spoiler, a model specific front lip, rear diffuser, and side facings for the rear apron air vents. Carbon-fibre is used in the front apron A-wing, the side sill inserts, rear diffuser insert, rear spoiler and the side mirror casings.
There’s more carbon-fibre inside the cabin, which we’ll cover off in the interior section. Other additions over the standard C 63 S Coupe include ceramic composite front brakes (402mm six-piston) and 360mm single-piston rear brakes, and there are “ultra-lightweight” AMG forged 'Matt Black' alloy wheels with 19-inch rims at the front and 20s at the rear.
And in nice news, the car you see here has no optional extras fitted at all. The colour is 'Iridium Silver', one of only two options for this limited run model (the other available hue is Polar White, and both come at no extra cost).
Standard inclusions comprise leather interior trim, heated and electric adjustable front seats, dual-zone climate control, a 10.25-inch media screen with sat nav and smartphone mirroring, DAB radio, 13-speaker Burmester sound system, 12.3-inch digital driver info display, head-up display (HUD), ambient lighting, and performance items like active dynamic engine mounts, an adaptive AMG performance exhaust, a rear differential lock, and adaptive sports suspension.
Plus there’s a full-spec safety offering which we’ll cover in the section below.
Thinking about what cars compete with this one? There’s the Audi RS 5 Coupe (from $150,900), the Lexus RC F (from $136,636), and the BMW M4 Competition (from $167,829). So the C 63 S - which is already expensive comparatively - looks positively pricey in Aero Edition spec.
Engine & trans
Fear not, the LC500 has the firepower to match those battle-cruiser looks. Under that enormous bonnet is a 5.0-litre petrol V8 and it makes 351kW and 540Nm. No turbos here, and that is absolutely fine by me. Actually, I prefer it; I'm not a fan of the lag or 'boosty' acceleration associated with turbocharging.
This naturally aspirated V8 has linear, controlled acceleration as the 10-speed automatic transmission shifts seamlessly though the gears, with the dash from 0-100km/h over in just 4.7 seconds. That’s not supercar fast, but this isn’t a supercar. The LC500 is a grand tourer.
On start-up, the LC500's V8 is breathy and high-pitched. When I pressed the ignition button for the first time its banshee-like scream echoed through our underground car park and I'm fairly sure my CarsGuide colleague Tom White (who was standing next to it at the time) soiled his trousers.
Open the shapely bonnet of the C 63 S and you’ll find a hand-assembled horsepower-monster engine with a printed name plaque to prove it.
The 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 produces 375kW of power at 6250rpm, and 700Nm of torque from 2000-4500rpm. It runs a standard-fit nine-speed 'Speedshift MCT' (multi-clutch transmission) automatic, and it’s rear-wheel drive. And yes, that means it likes to boogie.
The claimed 0-100km/h time is just 3.9 seconds, and top speed is apparently pegged at 250km/h. Yeesh.
The name on the “Handcrafted by” plaque on this particular engine? Hat tip to you, Julian Rembold. This is quite a piece of work.
After 279km of testing on a combination of motor ways, country roads and city peak hour traffic I measured a mileage of 16.4L/100km at the pump. The official combined fuel consumption is 11.6L/100km.
While it’s thirsty, that fuel usage would not make me think twice about getting an LC500 – it’s a petrol V8 powered monster and you need to feed it to have fun. If fuel is an issue for you either financially or ethically then there’s always the LC500h hybrid version.
High numbers are what AMGs are about. Sadly that’s the case not only for performance outputs but also fuel consumption.
The official combined cycle fuel use claim for the C 63 S Coupe is 10.3 litres per 100 kilometres, and you need to fill it with 98RON premium unleaded fuel, too.
On test? Well, across a mix of different driving - urban, highway, back road and spirited stints - I saw an 'at the pump' return of 12.2L/100km, while the digital readout stated 12.0L/100km.
Given the performance on offer, and how much I took advantage of it during my week with the car, that’s not bad…
Fuel tank capacity is 66 litres. So go easy if you know there won’t be a fuel stop for a while.
Outstanding. Brilliant. Superb. But I didn't expect it to be. Many of the breeds of Lexus I've driven look edgy and dynamic, but then feel like paper weights to drive. The LC500 is different. It's comfortable. Easy to pilot. Dynamic. And so much fun.
The big grunt and the measured way it's ladled out suits the character of the LC500 perfectly. This isn't a track weapon like the Lexus RC F, this is a monster that eats motorway miles - and that's what I did with it.
Don't ask why, but I needed to travel from Sydney to Newcastle for a 20-minute appointment and then come straight back again. I'm not a fan of that corner-less M1 Motorway, but the LC500 cruised up effortlessly without breaking a sweat - and with instant acceleration under my right foot whenever I needed to overtake. In the LC500, 110km/h felt too slow, like it wanted to keep running all the way up to its 270km/h top speed.
I took the old Pacific Highway back. The road surface is shoddy, but the sweeping corners and twists made the long way home so much more enjoyable. The LC500 performed beautifully, with superb handling while staying comfortable and composed. The big nose felt light, the steering perfectly weighted, and the throttle just needed a gentle prod to push it wherever I wanted.
Our LC500 wore Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, and despite them being runflats and 35 profile at the front and 40 at the rear on 21-inch rims, the ride - even over Sydney's shocking roads - was comfortable thanks to the air suspension.
That made daily commutes into the city fairly painless, too. And piloting the LC in traffic and car parks was also made easy thanks to good all-round visibility.
Just one word sprang to my mind when it comes to accurately describing the performance on offer from this car. The word is ‘brutal’.
Smash the accelerator and the power and torque on offer is enough to make your eyes feel like they’re not doing the right thing anymore. You get pushed back in your seat with a surge, and your ears are also rewarded with one of the best soundtracks in the automotive world.
The engine builds pace with enormous intent, and the sound that comes from under the bonnet and out the back through the exhausts is addictive.
Yes, there is an active exhaust button which you have to press to make sure that you hear all that noise if you’re running around in 'Comfort' mode, and during my time with the car it was active the whole time.
I had some questions from neighbours over the week that I had this car about whether it was actually nice to live with on a day-to-day basis. And the answer is yes, if you put it in comfort mode it’s surprisingly amenable.
The ride is really well sorted at pace despite having a bit of that trademark low-speed wobble that seems to afflict Mercedes products from A-Class through to the GLE SUV. But it wasn’t bad enough to really bother me, as most of my time was on highways and backroads.
The steering is direct and accurate. The only thing you need to be aware of is that you will lose traction at the rear axle when you put your foot down hard. And for the enthusiast that’s exactly what you want.
I know I want to feel the thing squirm under throttle. It’s a rear-drive V8 coupe, after all. You want to feel like you’re a vein in its bicep muscle; you know, the one you see in a weightlifter’s arms – the one that wiggles around a lot. You want to have that. Right?
On the performance front it is exceptional. Twist the little dial on the wheel to 'Sport' or 'Sport+' (I didn’t sample 'Race' mode as I wasn’t at a racetrack), and everything feels like it’s had a protein shake.
Even so, in that mode it steers brilliantly, there's a nice feel through the wheel, and the ride, while stiff, controls the body brilliantly when you change directions.
The transmission is very good, too. In Comfort mode it can take just a second or two at first to become accustomed to the idea that you want to drive aggressively.
But in Sport mode, or when you select the manual transmission mode using the trigger button on the steering wheel, you will certainly get the most out of the engine. That’s what I did when I was driving it in a ‘spirited’ manner.
If you are just after that high-end Coupe cruiser experience, it’s a relatively quiet car (provided the surface below isn’t the coarsest of coarse-chip bitumen), with enough luxuriousness to make it feel premium as well as sporty. That’s an important thing to consider, especially at this price point.
The LC500 has not been given an ANCAP score but there’s nothing to suggest it’s not incredibly safe.
Along with eight airbags it comes standard with a stack of advanced safety technology such as AEB, lane keeping assistance, blind spot warning and rear cross traffic alert. There’s also adaptive cruise control and automatic high beam lights.
Run flat tyres means no spare wheel.
For child seats you’ll find two ISOFIX points and two top tether anchor mounts across the back seats.
There is no applicable ANCAP crash test rating for the Mercedes C-Class Coupe, nor is there one for the C 63 specification. But when it was tested back 2014, the sedan scored five stars - as you’d expect.
It is comprehensively equipped in terms of safety technology, including auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection (from 7.0km/h to 70km/h) and it’s active for cars from 7.0km/h to 250km/h.
Plus there’s lane departure warning and active lane keeping assistance (from 60km/h to 200km/h), blind spot monitoring with 'Active Blind Spot Assist' that will stop you from veering into oncoming traffic, front and rear cross traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control (Distronic) with traffic jam assist.
The C 63 also features 'Route Based Speed Adaptation', which can adjust your speed based on where the car thinks you are on the map. Just note - if you’re driving through new tunnels that haven’t been flashed to your car’s nav (as happened to me in Sydney during my testing week) - then you could find the car dramatically braking for surface-level intersections. You can switch the system off, thankfully.
There are nine airbags fitted, and while you mightn’t use the rear seats much there are ISOFIX and top tether points for both positions (yes, only two).
The LC500 is covered by Lexus’ four-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty. Servicing is recommended every 12 months or 15,000km.
There is no capped price servicing, but the first service is complimentary, and Lexus says you can expect to pay $866.95 for the second visit (30,000km), $870.14 for the third (45,000km) and $866.95 for the fourth (60,000km).
Mercedes-Benz is among the minority of luxury brands now offering a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty plan - most still have three-year cover. So that’s a tick.
And the service intervals are pegged at 12 months/20,000km. Another tick.
Plus you can either pre-pay your service plan in three-year ($3800), four-year ($6000) or five-year ($6550) plans - roll it into the finance package, and it won’t hurt quite as much.
According to Mercedes, the three-year coverage option makes for a $900 discount over pay-as-you-go servicing.
Roadside assistance covers the five-year new car warranty period, too. So Mercedes seemingly takes good care of its customers. But if you have any concerns or questions over reliability, problems, issues or complaints about the C 63, check out our AMG C 63 problems page.