Itís got soul, mate

The LC is proof Lexus can do sizzle and sensible

ALEX INWOOD

SOMETHING good is happening at Lexus.

After years of building cars designed to appeal to the rational side of our brains, or to people who enjoy golf and lawn bowls, the company is steadily shaking free of its snoozer shackles.

My first encounter with this shift in philosophy came a few years ago at the launch of the then-new RC F in America.

Lexus had taken the bold step of holding the event at a circuit, and while the RC F wasnít quite as sharp as a BMW M4 or AMG C63 (blame a circa 2000kg kerb weight), its revhungry V8 and desire to blaze its rear rubber to smithereens left an indelible mark. It wasnít just exciting; it was fun too.

Then came an entire day at Sandown with a Lexus LFA, which didnít just vaporise any preconceptions I had about the brand, but forever etched the howl of ten screaming cylinders into my brain as the digital tacho crested 9000rpm.

My bright yellow LC is further proof that the foundations are shifting, if gradually, at Lexus HQ. While last month was spent in Comfort mode, where I marvelled at the hushed cabin and surprisingly supple and controlled ride on those huge, concept-car wheels, month two has seen me explore the LCís angrier side by toggling the drive-mode selector to Sport+.

The change it brings is dramatic and unexpectedly shouty. Suddenly the big 5.0-litre V8, which had been happy to quietly rustle into life and slip effortlessly through city traffic, feels razor sharp and, with your right foot planted, verges on manic. Even the 10-speed automatic gearbox comes to the party, with upshifts hammered home with an authority and speed that isnít far off a dual-clutch.

The real highlight, however, comes when you pull the left shift paddle and discover downshifts arenít just as fast, but are surprisingly crisp. The noise is brilliant too: Iíve found myself cycling through the gears just to hear the big V8 roar and then crackle and gargle on the overrun.

LEXUS LC 500

Date acquired: September 2017 Price as tested: $190,000 This month: 1101km @ 13.2L/100km Overall: 1667km @ 13.4L/100km

LFA legacy

Lexus has been beating the LFA marketing drum incessantly for years, often claiming new cars take inspiration from the brandís 2010 halo supercar. That claim actually holds true with the LC, which is built in the same Motomachi plant where the hand-built LFA was put together. There are other influences too, including the same digital dash with a single sliding dial and the knobs mounted high on either side of the instrument cluster used to cycle through drive modes or turn the traction control off.

WEEK 8 34 0 0 8 1 8 2 URBAN COUNTRY SPORTS FAMILY MOTORWAY 44 3 3

LIT FUSE

Strategically placed mirrors in the tail-lights create an infinite Ďafterburnerí effect. It looks incredible at night