You would think that taking a car and driving it and then writing a few words on it makes you a motoring journalist, but there is a little more to the job than that.
Yes, driving the car is the first part, but having the experience of having driven the previous generation, where applicable, and having driven the car’s main rivals is vital for comparison purposes.
Then, of course, having some basic knowledge of how to extract the performance capabilities from the car and accurately be able to put this into words is another skill set that is not just given the moment you get into a test car for the first time.
Every press release will have you believe that your particular test car is the most dynamic and fastest car in its segment, and as a potential buyer you are going to be very disappointed when you get into a car you thought was the best because somebody masquerading as a motoring journalist told you so.
And when it came to figuring out the Lexus LC 500 we had on test, it clearly highlighted this industry-wide problem. On paper, the LC 500 produces the goods, but because this is a proper data backed up road test, I also have to identify the shortcomings of the car.
But you can’t just say it fails here because it is not the fastest car out there without trying to put yourself in the mind of a potential buyer. First of all, the person who spends R1 729 600 on a car like this would more than likely have decided well in advance that they want a Lexus LC 500.
Be it because they love the styling or sound or whatever. No wannabe or bona fide motoring journalist is going to change his or her mind. Styling, as you can see, is very different to anything else German on the road and many will like this. Many probably won’t.
My experience in the car was that the man on the street loved the look. But my job is to put you and everybody else in the driving seat of the LC 500 using words.
So, here goes. Jumping inside you are greeted with superb low slung sports seats that seem to fit like a glove. You want to sit low and snug in a performance GT car, and you do so in this car.
You also have the low instrument panel position, together with the low hood line and narrow A pillars, that all add to the GT sports car feel.
I have to admit, the actual working out of how to use all the cockpit connectivity and multimedia took a fair amount of getting used to. There are many buttons and dials spread around the place and I really didn’t like the touchpad set-up to make mostof the onboard functions work.
Hitting the start button fires up the 351kW / 540Nm high compression 5.0-litre V8 naturally aspirated engine into a gentle burble. But turn the dash mounted dial to Sport +, and the exhausts open up and let you know that the car is about to get serious.
Sadly, using the word serious is a bit of a stretch, as the other GT cars in the segment are making use of turbocharged powerplants, and the old powerplant in the LC 500 also has to move 1 930kg in order to compete.
It shows against the clock, where the 0-100 km/h sprint comes up in 5.88 seconds, the quarter mile in 13.98 seconds, the 1km crossed at 224km/h and the top speed stops electronically at 274km/h. This is not out and out fast by any means, and the lack of a launch control function, which I feel is a must on a performance car, does not help matters.
In fact, I even tried to left foot brake the car and hold the accelerator flat to build some rpm before releasing the brake, but the LC 500 did not like this idea one bit and simply refused to accelerate. It was quickest when you simply planted the accelerator like almost every owner will do when wanting to get up and go.
The 10-speed box is ultra smooth and, trust me, you will only use manual mode a few times before you realise its better if you leave the car to do the shifting. And as the LC 500 comes standard with the Lexus Dynamic Handling system as well as a new front and rear suspension set-up, the ride comfort is exceptionally good while the handling is also light and direct when you want it to be.
It’s a very easy car to drive fast. So much so you feel that, should they eventually ditch the old school engine and go horsepower crazy, the LC will handle the upgrade with ease.
Being a Lexus also means that the LC is equipped with an array of standard safety features that can help you avoid an accident, or help lessen the consequences of a collision.
You get the normal curtain, front, knee and side airbags, as well as Pre-Crash System along with the likes of Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Keeping Assist and reversing camera, LED lighting and large colour head-up display to keep your eyes on the road.
So, outright speed is not this car’s big selling point. Smoothness and nimbleness, married to Japanese quality is, and as such the Lexus LC 500 still offers you a very satisfying experience.