The superhero Lexus LC500h grand tourer
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Lexus LC500h worthy of a superhero
The Lexus LC500 comes straight out of the pages of a Marvel comic book — a wide, low-slung grand tourer that never fails to turn heads on the road.
The sweeping coupe with massive rear haunches draws attention to itself whether it is tearing down the road, or sitting idle in central city car park.
But not all top-of-the-range Lexus LC500 grand tourers are the same — some are powered by a 5-litre V8 engine, propelling the car from zero to 100km/h in 4.7 seconds.
Others, like our test car, are powered by a V6 engine coupled with a 264Kw electric motor and the Lexus hybrid system. But good luck spotting the difference.
The LC500h has blue-highlighted badging and the little “h” on it, but is otherwise identical in appearance to the V8 model. And it takes just seconds longer to speed from zero to 100km/h.
Both sell for $215,000, including the optional carbon fibre roof package, which includes other desirable tweaks on the car such a form of rear-wheel-steering and carbon fibre door sills and inserts.
The problem with the LC500h is its reason for being — while it is more economical (a claimed 6.7 litres/100km vs 10.9 litres/100km) than its slightly brisker sibling, the dramatic appearance of the car cries out to be accompanied by a V8 soundtrack.
Putting that reservation aside, the LC500h is a terrific car to drive, whether weaving through twisty coastal secondary roads or cruising along the motorway.
Plant your foot on the accelerator and you get all the pleasing benefits of rapid acceleration, as well as a somewhat contained V6 engine soundtrack.
It produces not so much a throaty roar as a high-tech electronic harmony.
The low, long and wide shape of the car means it has a low centre of gravity, and this combined with acutely responsive steering helps deliver an immensely enjoyable driving experience.
Then there is the head-turning aspect of driving the car — in three years of test driving sometimes exotic models, the LC500h wins the award for attracting the most attention.
More than just drawing stares from passers-by and other drivers, the Lexus has people pointing it out to their companions, and positively gawping at it.
The design is spectacular, from its swooping long front bonnet through to its broad-shouldered haunches.
The front is dominated by the central spindle Lexus grille, with small but incredibly effective LED headlamps and dramatically different L-shaped daylight running lights each side of the grille.
The only discreet aspects of the car are its minimalist-designed doors, which have retractable flush door handles — they fold out when you unlock the car.
The appearance is set off with huge forged aluminium 21-inch wheels.
The run-flat tyres are 8.5 inches wide at the front, while the rear tyres are an inch wider.
It takes an effort to get in and out of such a low-slung sports tourer but, once inside the car, you are rewarded with a plush interior.
Leather-accented seats envelop the driver and passenger. The seats are adjustable 10 ways, and are heated and ventilated.
The two front seating positions are surprisingly snug for such a large car, with a huge central transmission tunnel running through the centre of the vehicle.
There is lots of alcantara (faux suede) surrounding the driver and passenger, and the controls are all within easy reach of the driver.
The central touch pad control is extremely sensitive and takes a little getting used to — but once mastered, it is easy to use.
In typical Lexus fashion, the car’s interior is elegant and practical, with nice touches such as the magnesium paddle shifters on the steering wheel.
There is a combination meter immediately in front of the driver, displaying speed, and shift indicators, and a hybrid system indicator plus drive mode displays.
A drive mode stalk sticks out of the instrument cluster, which is an unusual position for it but once you know where it is it is easy to switch modes. The cabin of the LC500h feels plush and luxurious, and on two lengthy journeys, was comfortable.
The car maintains its composure no matter how fast you are cornering, or what the road conditions are.
Driving is a pleasure in this grand tourer, helped by the accurate steering set-up, and the rear spoiler on top of the boot, which is activated automatically when the car reaches 80km/h.
Though it is more environmentally friendly than its V8 sibling, the LC500h is no slouch — Lexus says it has a maximum speed of 250km/h.
Naturally we couldn’t confirm that top rate, but it steers and handles as though it could reach those giddy speeds.
Engine:V6 3.5 litre Grand Tourer hybrid 264kW combined maximum power
Pros: Stunning stand-out design
Cons: Overly sensitive infotainment touchpad