SEVILLE, Spain--If you remember the very first days of Lexus, you remember the clever ads: the champagne glasses on the hood of the car, the ball bearing rolling down its hood, the "relentless pursuit of perfection."
Forget it all. Now Lexus is chasing after world-class luxury and performance with big power, great handling and outrageous styling. They don't ever want to be called boring again.
The evidence so far: the shapely GS sedan, RC coupe, even the latest RX crossover.
Next up: the most extroverted Lexus you’ve ever seen, the 2018 Lexus LC 500 and LC 500h, the most convincing show of courage from Lexus since the 1990 LS.
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The new LC coupes were born almost five years ago, as concepts shown at the 2012 Detroit auto show. The LC 500 is that LF-LC concept, made suitable for the streets.
It's made the leap from show floor to show room largely intact, and that's a feat unto itself. Lexus says it never intended to build the LC until the concept was showered with acclaim.
With the LC, Lexus has unleashed all the styling hounds. This is a striking, stunning car, from the arrowhead LEDs that bracket its shimmering hourglass grille, to its jet-style canopy, its pop-out door handles, and its pushpin-like LED taillights. It's the first Lexus spindle grille that truly fits with the car's shape and its mission, the first to nail that sculptural dilemma.
It's not a perfect shape but it's close. It's unlike anything else on the road, with hints of the Jaguar F-Type's pinched-tail eroticism and side-glass echoes of the old Renault Alpine GTA. I can't get over the shape yet: each time I see it in its final sheetmetal, I stumble on a new flourish or a new angle played up by a different paint color.
For the first time, the LC won't change a thing from gas-only to gas-electric hybrid. Only the badges will differ.
MORE: Read our 2018 Mercedes-AMG E63 S first drive
Inside, the cabin wears gorgeous leather stitched to resemble organic waves—as if the passengers are sitting inside a blossom. The dash wraps around the driver, as in the F-Type, with a divider that walls off the controls from the passenger.
A new Lexus infotainment system occupies the wide-screen real-estate on the dash, while the steering wheel houses the now-standard dozen buttons to control cruise and other ancillary functions. The LC has touchpads and roller wheels on the console, toggles on the stalks, control stalks on the gauge cluster. It's a who's-who of rheostats and rocker switches.
The cockpit in each car I drove had hours of obviously painstaking stitching and careful fitment of leather, suede, and metal. It still could use more of the singular vision that drew the LC's aluminum skin. The horizontal dash theme gets broken up too often by add-on pieces, like that divider, or the upward-facing vents over the glovebox, or the concave dash panel sitting in front of the passenger, or the ream of control gear that studs the cockpit.
It all sits in staggering, intrusive contrast to the LC's lovely naked door handles and the organic arcs stitched into the door panels. More of that simplicity, please.
To underscore the LC's daring style departure, the cockpit can be tinted in subtle tones--or in a brave Rioja red that demands a strong pimp hand, or in a blue/orange/white combination with a strong whiff of Adidas sports shoes. Unworn ones, that is.