Stick Shift: 2019 Lexus LC 500 Coupe

Photo by: Brandon Randall

Let’s start by stating the obvious. The Lexus LC 500 is a beautiful car. It’s dripping all kinds of juicy curb appeal. Visually, it delivers one of the strongest first impressions you’ll find in anything with four wheels. Beginning with some serious face game. Like the mug of a metallic Adones. For starters, Lexus has been working on their strong hourglass front grille for years. The LC 500 wears the most aggressive iteration of it to date. Serving as sultry book-ends to the grille are a pair of incredibly designed headlights. Masterpieces, cut with deep vertical tracks like war paint dripping down from the under-eye to a strong jaw. They are artfully integrated with the front bumper, elements of the vehicles color swirled through. Like long, delicate calligraphy strokes, they flow naturally, forcing double and triple-takes. 

Photo via: Lexus

Follow the curves and sensual lines past the doors, over deep rear vents and a heavily flared flank, to a set of impressive taillights. When illuminated, layer upon layer of solid red fade into the distance, like your vanishing reflection when standing directly between two mirrors. This visual trick is just one example of the many special details that separate the LC 500 from any other car in the Toyota line, and many others on the road for a similar price. 

In silhouette only, every special detail obscured, the 2019 LC 500 has a shape that will enchant. Its exotic design has the elements of an Aston Martin or Ferrari. Special details stack up the more you explore with your eyes. The roof and door sills are packed with carbon fiber of varying sheens. A not so subtle hint at the performance capabilities this Lexus aspires to. Door handles lay flush with the body, popping out much like the Nissan GTR to allow access inside. You’ll even find little  ‘Lexus’ stamped studs in the door.

Once inside, you’ll be treated to beautiful craftsmanship and abundant use of the highest quality materials. Some additional carbon fiber treatment in the interior would’ve helped tie the performance theme together. Instead, there is some redundancy in texture and color in my model. Even lacking a little variety, the black on black on black is sharp looking, and laid out with a minimalist approach thats important in a car where attention should be paid to the driving first. Red, tan leather and other interior color options are available to help spice things up if one should so desire. Door panels have sweeping groves cut in and grab handles can be easily accessed by the passenger on either side. Smart lighting on the dash help add an extra measure of refinement to the cabin. A few extra storage spaces or cubbies for stashing away as simple a thing as a phone would’ve been tremendously useful. This, along with a Qi charging pad for the growing number of smart devices that support wireless charging these days. 

Photo via: Lexus

Despite aggressive bolstering, seats are supportive without sacrificing comfort. Even if you find yourself on the tall and wide end of the human shape spectrum. In comfort/eco mode, I even found the suspension to be perfectly polite. With such a low ride height, combined with low profile tires and big wheels, I was surprised by how comfortable and user-friendly in the day-to-day the LC 500 could be. Ultimately, the interior space feels designed around the drivers seat first, which is how it should be. Designed with purpose, plus the added bonus of being surprisingly comfortable. The back seat is there, but is basically just for show, unless you’re a gifted contortionist. 

The 2019 Lexus LC 500 flaunts a naturally aspirated 5.0L V8 that’s been engineered with all the latest Toyota know-how, and maybe a little black magic as well. It’s a thing of dreams. New for the 2019 model year is a reprogrammed shift logic and lightning quick 10-speed automatic transmission. This transmission pairs to the engine better than a grilled steak and big, bold red. At a healthy cruising speed of 85 mph you’ll find the tachometer sitting at a comfortable 2,000 rpm. There’s never a speed, road or situation where you can’t find the perfect gear for the job. It’s quite, stable and confident with each lane change and gear shift. 

Photo via: Lexus

With the turn of a knob, Normal, Sport and Sport Plus modes can be accessed. In Sport Plus, the most aggressive mode, all the expected changes in steering, cornering and transmission behavior occur. Suddenly, the V8 comes to life, transforming into a snarling, snapping, spitting animal. The soundtrack will curl your toes and make you push for more and more. Each flick of the paddle shifter blips off precise gear changes. A slightly reworked suspension for 2019, with improved damping make for cornering performance that’s wonderfully flat and neutral. 

The biggest thing keeping the LC 500 from being a true, other-worldly track star is its weight. This Lexus tips the scales at well over two tons, preventing acceleration from being as neck snapping as it could be. That’s not to say the LC 500 isn’t extremely fast. Acceleration is vigorous, and with almost 500 hp at your disposal, and aggressive gear mapping, you’ll get up to speed with minimal effort. If anything, the extra weight helps the LC 500 achieve a somewhat more difficult mission. It’s a grand tourer. Striking a remarkable balance of high performance and surprising comfort. Depending on the driving mode, it can scream its way into triple digit speeds without breaking a sweat, or serve as a comfortable daily commuter, even when road conditions are less than ideal. With the LC 500, you get to enjoy both, in packaging that’s truly stunning.

Price as tested: $105,940.00

By: Brandon Randall

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