The Lexus LC 500's Looks Thrill, But Will It Deliver Driving Excitement?

17Lexus_LC-500_AS_AC_03.jpg 2017 Lexus LC 500 | photo by Angela Conners

CARS.COM — With its mix of sweeping curves and aggressive angles, the 2017 Lexus LC 500 stunned at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. But this luxury coupe needs to be more than just eye candy — Lexus is hoping it’ll inject some excitement into a lineup mostly known for its luxurious but unexciting vehicles.

Related: 2016 Detroit Auto Show Winners and Losers

On paper, the LC has the potential to wow with its 467-horsepower, 5.0-liter V-8 engine and 10-speed automatic transmission. However, this is the same engine tested in the 2015 Lexus RC F during our Luxury Performance Coupe Challenge. The RC F finished in last place, trounced by the 2015 BMW M4 and the 2016 Cadillac ATS-V.

We polled some of our editors to find out what the LC 500 needs to deliver in terms of driving experience to match its thrilling looks.

“The big, jaw-dropping Lexus LC 500 doesn’t need to be able to carve up a track to be successful, but it does need to involve — and entertain — the driver more than the Lexus sports car norm while still delivering a comfortable ride when the pace slows down,” said Mike Hanley, senior editor and Luxury Performance Coupe Challenge judge.

“Lexus needs to find a way to make that beautiful, high-revving, exotic-sounding engine not taxed by nearly 2 tons of ugly,” said Joe Bruzek, senior editor. The automaker got “one part right with the LC 500’s styling, but the RC F’s engine struggles to pull the 3,958-pound coupe compared with the turbocharged, torquey competition from Cadillac and BMW. The proposed 10-speed auto could help keep that engine in a happy place between gears and give it the extra kick the 5.0-liter so desperately needs from a starting stop.”

“Even so, that’s only half the equation,” said Bruzek, who also served as a judge in the Luxury Performance Coupe Challenge. “The LC 500 shouldn’t fight you in a corner like the RC F whose loose handling swings from ugly understeer to excessive oversteer. A balanced and confident handling LC 500 would be a marked improvement over the RC F.”

“One word: lightness! Part of the RC F’s issue is that it’s extremely heavy, and suffers for it,” said Aaron Bragman, Detroit bureau chief. “The RC F was 250 to 370 pounds heavier than the other two cars in that competition, and no matter how much extra power you give it, having to control that mass just makes it harder to be agile.”

“I’m not really sure that the LC 500 is aiming to be a driver’s car, though,” Bragman said. “The competition at that level focuses a lot on luxury and power, but isn’t so much concerned about mass and weight. Look at the Mercedes-Benz S-Class coupe, it’s a massive monster, but it has such style, opulence, technology and cachet that nobody really cares that it’s also fairly numb and cushy. The BMW 650i, however, is more athletic and sporty, and less opulent than the S-Class coupe.”

“It will really depend on where Lexus decides to position the LC, and who Lexus intends to go after, on whether or not it even needs to be a driver’s car.”

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