Does the world need a car like the new Lexus LC 500?
Absolutely not. But it’s nice that cars like this exist, because the rich people who can afford them make America’s roads more picturesque for the rest of us.
The LC, above all, is a looker–well cast as the Panthermobile in Black Panther, the new Marvel superhero picture, where it plays a fetching chariot for T’Challa, the film’s protagonist. Lexus also ponied up for a 2018 Super Bowl ad featuring the LC and its sibling, the LS 500, to make sure no haunch or nape of this lovely vehicle goes unobserved.
It’s hard to build a vehicle these days that looks different and elegant at the same time, the way the LC does, with designers often opting instead for “polarizing” designs that make some people love an ugly car as much as everybody else hates it. For many other vehicles, designers just move curves and angles a few millimeters from model to model, hoping buyers will notice–just not too much.
Pras Subramanian and I gush over the comely LC in the video above. We both felt thoroughly stroked as we drove around getting leers and thumbs-ups from other drivers. It’s the self-satisfying buzz car buffs dream about.
Driving the car isn’t so bad either, thanks to a throaty, 471-horsepower V-8 engine and a suite of technology that keeps you bolted to the road like the asphalt itself. The gearheads at Motor Trend and Road & Track have all the gooey details. The upshot: Lexus got tired of being slagged as a serene brand for graybeards, and convincingly proved it can rev with beastie boys such as Aston Martin, Jaguar, and the performance wizards at the German makes.
Worth adding: the average age of a Lexus buyer is 54, according to research firm Strategic Vision. That’s above average for luxury brands and higher than for Acura, Audi, BMW, Infiniti, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo. Healthier automotive brands tend to have younger buyers, and the way to lure them is with the right blend of value and excitement. The LC helps Lexus tilt the equation a bit more in the direction of excitement. The tie-in with Black Panther is another effort to coolify a Lexus brand perhaps too associated with paunchy, suburban country-clubbers.
Would I ever hand over the $93,000 it costs for the starter model? No chance. What if I were rich and had the cash sitting around? In that case, I’d hope a sensible friend or family member would tie me down if I suggested I might take a trip to the Lexus dealership, even if it was just to look around. Especially if it was just to look around.
Nobody really needs a $93,000 coupe with a laughable back seat. Right, I get it, purchasing a car like the LC has nothing to do with practicality. It’s about passion. Bliss. The sublime meld of style and performance. Whatever. I can think of better ways to spend $93,000 in pursuit of those things.
Still, Pras and I sure loved driving this baby around. We loved even more being seen in it. But as I piloted this dreamboat, it dawned on me that the pleasure was subdued while sitting inside it — because I couldn’t really see its gorgeous, muscular curves. When the joy comes from the gawking, the car in question might best be viewed from your neighbor’s driveway, rather than your own.
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