I knew the Lexus LC 500 was something special on two occasions. The first was in a Clarke Quay carpark. I had started the car and was idling in the lot when a group of young women, dressed to the nines, walked in front of the vehicle. All of them simultaneously turned to look at the Lexus LC 500, then at the driver i.e. me. After that they turned away, giggling and nudging each other. While walking away, a few of them glanced back to look at the car.
Now, I am no Brad Pitt nor Daniel Wu. The car, however, is one heck of a good looker and the second episode only cemented my faith in its visual appeal. Again, it happened in a carpark but this time, it was with a man. I had just parked and gotten out of the car when I noticed a stranger smoking and looking at the Lexus LC500. He nodded at me and said with a hint of admiration in his voice, “That’s a damn nice car.”
Style and Substance
But substance hasn’t been sacrificed. The naturally-aspirated 5.0-litre V8 engine under the front hood is quite the engineering marvel and emits a growling sonorous soundtrack. It’s actually quite unlike Lexus, more well-known for engines that are so quiet, they had to electronically amplify them so that pedestrians knew there was a car approaching.
The car does need all that power. If there is one fault with the LC 500, it weighs in at a rather hefty 2,375 kilograms, which doesn’t bode well for fuel consumption. It also means that the century sprint won’t set any new records. Lexus officially clocked it at 4.7 seconds, a solid timing nonetheless.
But, setting records was never on Koji Sato’s mind when his team started building the LC 500. “Now, we believe that the customer doesn’t just want better specifications. They want a better experience and more emotional value. The challenge is: how do you create that?” the chief engineer said.
It took five years to create that value in the form of a new GA-L (Global Architecture – Luxury) platform that not only enabled Sato and his team to create the LC 500’s good looks but better driving performance as well. The impeccable steering is the most outstanding feature. In today’s era of electronically-assisted steering, the LC 500’s wheel somehow manages to transmit the raw and grit of the asphalt onto your hands while still ensuring that you retain full control.
Sato explained that the steering feedback was one of the focal points during development. “The structure is easy to make but the important thing is to create the ‘taste’. Creating the taste takes a long time. Sometimes, we would make minor changes to the car and while the computer didn’t detect any discernible difference, we could feel the difference in our hands,” said Sato, his own hands mimicking the action of holding a steering wheel to emphasise his point.
The Start of a New Lexus Generation
And perhaps that’s what we need – more emotion and empathy in a world that has become more technologically advanced but emotionally backward. On paper, the Lexus LC 500 might just be the flagship vehicle of the Japanese marque but it represents the direction and vision of the company, and one we’re quite excited about.
And it always helps when a group of women give lusty giggles while looking at you and the car.