Even though the 2021 Lexus LC has looked to kill, its driving demeanor is more luxury car than exotic sports car. Going head-to-head with the likes of the BMW 8-series and the Porsche 911 in terms of price, Lexus’s signature two-door offers little in the way of their sportiness. The LC can be had with either a naturally-aspirated V-8 or a V-6–hybrid powertrain. We prefer the former. The LC delivers a, smoothly agreeable ride, and both of its powertrains provide considerable power, but its rivals offer much sharper reflexes. What they can’t match is Lexus’s designer interior, which features elements borrowed from the LS luxury sedan and the iconic LFA supercar. While the LC technically offers seating for four, the cramped rear seat is better suited for personal items or puppies; the car’s trunk is also quite limited in terms of space, so pack light.
What’s New for 2021?
The big news for 2021 is the addition of the LC500 convertible, which features a power-retractable soft top for luxurious open-air cruising. The LC lineup otherwise sees a few minor changes, including a reworked suspension that Lexus claims have smoothed out the ride while a feature called Active Cornering Assist is said to improve handling by lightly applying the brakes to the inside wheels through a corner. Red leather interior replaces last year’s Rioja Red option, and the Bespoke White leather option has been discontinued. New 20-inch wheels adorn the LC’s exterior and two new paint colors are offered: Cadmium Orange and Nori Green Pearl. A limited run of 100 Inspiration Series coupe models will be offered this year, all of them decked out in carbon fiber and black design details.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The beating heart of the standard LC500 is Lexus’s high-performance 5.0-liter V-8, which belts out 471 horsepower and 398 lb-ft of torque. Paired only with a quick-shifting yet smooth 10-speed automatic transmission, it produces glorious internal combustion rock ‘n’ roll that is as pleasing to the ears as the rest of the LC is to the eyes. The other powertrain offered is the LC500h’s 354-hp gas-electric drivetrain, which combines a 3.5-liter V-6, a pair of electric motors, a 1.1-kWh lithium-ion battery, and a unique continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that somewhat mimics the action of a 10-speed automatic. There’s minimal body roll and good balance to Lexus’s handling, and the ride quality is excellent considering the huge 21-inch wheels that our test cars wore. The variable-steering and adaptive rear-wheel-steering systems included with the Performance package notably enhance the quickness of the LC’s helm and the car’s general responsiveness. Yet the standard chassis setup is a better fit for the car’s GT comportment and feels more natural without impeding the LC’s tactility. We’d advise saving the money and sticking with the base chassis. Throwing out the LC’s anchor comes via a firm and progressive brake pedal and big, fade-free brakes at each wheel.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The Lexus LC500 interior is a special place, with a great driving position, rich materials, beautiful craftsmanship, excellent front seats, and loads of technology. Some of its ergonomics can be fussy in practice, but the overall ambiance suits the LC’s concept-car looks. Fit and finish are excellent and the optional sport seats are true thrones of spinal support. Certain elements require some acclimation, including the funky, Toyota Prius–like electronic shift lever. The LC’s compact trunk and the non-folding rear seats limit its storage space to five cubic feet, which is only enough for holding two of our carry-on cases. As attractive as the LC’s cabin is, there are not many cubbies for stashing loose items. The center console, however, is adequately sized, and its lid can be adjusted to reveal a second cupholder.