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2017 Lexus LC 500 long-term review, part three

By Alex Inwood, 04 Feb 2018 Car Reviews

2017 Lexus LC 500 long-term review part three

Bent-eight LC bruiser delivers its final bark, but a hybrid version looms...

IT CAN be cruel and pitiless, COTY testing. Having run this long-term LC500 for the previous two months, I was keener than most to see how the big Japanese muscle car would perform at our toughest week of the year.

I was, justifiably I’d say, optimistic of the LC’s chances. Striking to look at, superbly made and luxuriously comfortable, it’s even possible to argue the LC is decent value considering its wow factor, size, quality and performance.

The addition of the Hybrid model, which uses a fiendishly complex powertrain to boost performance and economy, appears to have COTY’s technology criterion covered off too.

And yet despite the promise, the LC failed to progress beyond the proving ground. The full reasons why are detailed in Wheels magazine's January edition, but I suspect there’s another explanation it was found wanting: it’s a grower. Like the RC-F before it, the LC is a car that slowly gets under your skin and reveals an endearing personality.

It seems counter-intuitive, I know, given its instant visual appeal, but it’s the nuances and quirks that make the LC so interesting to live with and, by comparison, make other cars feel a little one-dimensional.

The endless maze that is the infotainment system, for example, which was baffling and complicated initially, has become a challenge and a surprise as I continue to discover new shortcuts and menus even after months of use. And I love that all the dials and buttons feel metallic and expensive, like a high-end hi-fi.

And that the glovebox is opened by a solenoid-operated button disguised in the dashboard trim. I’m less convinced about the heated/cooled seats that, every time you start up, remain in the setting you had them last. This wouldn’t be such an issue if switching them off again, to stop cold air from rocketing onto your inner thighs at 6am, didn’t require you to navigate five sub-menus in the centre screen.

Even the dynamics have surprising bandwidth, with each driving mode (including a Custom setting I only discovered this month that allows optimal configuration of chassis and powertrain) revealing different shades of character and ability.

It’s a car with layers, and that’s partly why I’ll be so disappointed to see it go. Having occupied my driveway for three months, come next week, my yellow LC500 will be replaced with a red one that, beyond the colour change, should look identical bar a small ‘h’ added to its badging.

This is to notify my neighbours that I’ve ditched V8 power for hybrid propulsion. The LC Hybrid will also be fitted with a $15K Performance Pack that, among other things, adds four-wheel steering. But no matter how I cut it in my mind, I don’t see how the hybrid LC can be as good as the V8.

I fear I’ll be taking a step backwards. Here’s hoping I’m wrong.

Read part two of our 2017 Lexus LC 500 long-term review here!