I took possession of the 2023 LEXUS LC-C 500 SPORT+, and had to put it through its paces on the winding mountainous roads of Snowdonia National Park, and the shoreline of North Wales. When the car arrived my first thought was, “WOW”, what a stunning-looking car, beautiful and elegantly designed streamlined body styling. The colour, I think you will agree, was amazing, Sonic Red with a Black convertible roof and polished 21-inch forged alloy wheels. It sat outside my house purring like a big game cat. It has the look and prowess of a Super Car. Literally a beast of a machine, yet maintaining LEXUS’ renowned super luxurious quality.
This luxury grand tourer was launched in the UK in 2020. In the first Quarter of 2022, there were only 181 on the road in the UK. As far as I’m aware, from a little research, at the time of writing this article, this number has not increased greatly. We should seriously ask the question, why? Is it due to the transition to electric or, is it because people’s preference is now SUVs, and that two-door grand touring coupes and convertibles are out of vogue?
Performance Styling and Build
The LC-C 500 speaks volumes, and that’s even before you get in and press the ignition button. When you do press that button, I know it sounds like a cliché, but people in the immediate vicinity physically stop, turn and stare, this is due to the sound of the 7,300rpm, naturally aspirated 5-litre, 471-horsepower, V8 engine, with a 10 speed Direct Shift automatic transmission. I’m sure I read somewhere that it took 3 years for Lexus to develop the right balance and pitch of the exhaust notes. No superchargers or turbochargers here, maintaining engine reliability and longevity.
I have already compared the LC-C 500 to a game cat, this cat is the quickest animal on land, the Cheetah. The view from the front, the spindle grille, reminds me of the cheetah’s facial markings called “malar stripes”, and the headlights of the animal’s eyes. The build like a Cheetah is sleek and elegant. Although not as quick as the Cheetah it does however come in as a close second, achieving 0-62mph in 5 seconds.
When I look closely at the front and rear of the car, I also see variations of the Lexus “L” logo, subtly duplicated in various sizes and configurations, inverted and or mirrored depending on placement. I believe these can be seen in the rear light mounts, the front running lights the spindle grille and the front spoiler.
Over the course of the week, and as can be seen from the photos, I drove on various types of roads in various conditions, from dual carriageways to mountainous winding narrow roads, and roads within the City. Occasionally in the sun with the roof down, unfortunately though, only for a couple of days, as the rest of the time it rained extensively, this, however, did not dampen the LC-C 500 experience, excuse the pun.
I’m usually apprehensive when driving Rear Wheel Drive vehicles, but the LC-C 500’s low driving position, smooth and responsive steering, excellent cornering and adaptive variable suspension, quickly relieved this. There are four driving modes that can be selected from a toggle positioned on the left-hand side of the instrument panel. Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport+. Each time the driving mode is changed the digital instrument’s rev-counter changes, adding to the driver’s dynamic experience. There is also a control button on the steering wheel that allows the driver to move the rev-counter over to the right, revealing various functions, and allowing the driver to control these functions within the instrument panel.
On the other side of the Instrument panel is another toggle for the stability control, and Snow mode. I did not have any reason to adjust.
The drive was exceptional in all modes. The most exhilarating was obviously the Sports+ mode. An amazing sound, and it was chomping at the bit to go, so much so that occasionally you reach the speed limit without realising. Essential therefore to keep your eyes on the HUD speedometer.
The exhilarating and intoxicating tones of the naturally aspirated V8 engine changed depending on the driving mode selected, RPMs, and whether the conveniently sized manual shift paddles were used, especially to downshift quickly. It is said that the LC-C 500’s sound can be traced back to the Lexus LFA.
Interior Design And Comfort
The interior is positively luxurious, the texture of the materials and the curvature in the door panelling flows from the passenger’s side, up and over the uncluttered dashboard, which allows perfect vision of the road, seamlessly through to the driver’s door, with the only protrusions being the armrests containing the window and mirror controls, and the elegantly shaped internal door handle, forged out of polished aluminium which appear to float in situ. The control knobs and buttons are again highly polished aluminium, all of which treat and tickle your sense of touch.
The aniline leather-trimmed sports seats feel as if they were custom-made to fit my frame. The stitching patterns on the seats really do add further class to areas that are in most other cars drab and boring in appearance. The rear of the headrests are prominently embossed with the Lexus logo. There are also integrated neck heaters in the driver and passenger headrests for those cold days with the roof down.
The digital instrument panel, where less is more, was easy to read and was supplemented on the driver’s windscreen, with the Heads-Up Display, HUD, which I found to be very accurate in displaying the ever-changing road speed signs. There was even a graphic within the tachometer to indicate the progress of the opening and closing of the convertible roof, which can be operated when driving up to 30mph.
The cabin is also complete with Nanoe technology, purifying the air and deodorising the seats when the roof is up.
I particularly found the driving position to be very comfortable.
Audio and Multimedia System
The 8-inch TFT colour multimedia and information display is well-designed and subtly incorporated within the dashboard, so as not to obstruct the view of the road. It is compatible with both Apple Car Play and Android Auto. It was straightforward to connect my phone using Bluetooth, telephone calls were clear and the speaker system had a fantastic sound, especially when playing music tracks. This pack included the optional Mark Levinson Premiere Sound System, the rear speaker of which was cleverly placed between the two back seats.
The Infotainment system was operated using a touchpad which is now outdated. Operating this while driving is not a good idea, it is very sensitive and awkward, needs your attention and is time-consuming to get to and set the numerous functions. I must admit though, for some of the in-car functions there were alternative options but they are limited to turning the heating on, up or down, turning on the AC or changing radio channels. However, there are also various integrated switches on the three-spoke, leather-bound heated steering wheel, that can also be used. As I got used to the touchpad, its operation wasn’t so laborious. There were however some settings I could not, and would not change, whilst driving.
The LC-C 500 is also fitted with a CD player, which in my opinion, is redundant having obviously been superseded by downloadable playlists, even for someone of my age. There is also nowhere accessible to store the CDs!
Things I liked
Without a doubt the body design and styling with the wide rear wheel arches and the luxurious interior.
The Heads-Up Display.
Safety features on the cruise control. The radar system overrides the driver’s cruise control instruction, automatically slowing the car down to keep a safe distance from the car in front. Lane Keeping Assist was also available.
When turning the ignition off, the steering wheel retracts and the driver’s seat moves to a non-driving position automatically. Both the driver’s seat and steering wheel automatically adjusts to the driver’s pre-set position when the Ignition button is pressed, and also, without pressing the ignition button, when you insert the driver’s seatbelt into the seatbelt clip.
Being able to set the wing mirrors to tilt for reverse parking. This was achieved by selecting reverse gear and adjusting the mirrors for the required view. Next time you select reverse the mirrors will automatically adjust to the required position. Ideal for ensuring you don’t kerb the 21-inch forged alloy wheels when reversing.
For a 5 litre V8 I was surprised at the fuel economy, I did however mainly drive in Eco Mode, only occasionally switching to Sports+ Mode. Fuel consumption is recorded as being 24.1mpg combined, WLTP.
Screenwash that deploys through the wiper blades rather than from the bonnet up onto the windscreen.
Things I Didn’t Like
In-car connectivity. The USB ports in the centre console didn’t appear to charge my phone when connected. I had to use a 12v plug in adaptor and charging cable.
There is no room at all for rear passengers. I’m vertically challenged, and at 5’8’’ the back of my seat when driving, and more so when not, was still pushed up against the rear seat. I don’t believe this is a 2+2. The rear 2 seats are basically a parcel shelf. However, in its defence, you don’t buy the LC-C 500 to carry passengers in the back.
Boot opening using the key fob. This was frustrating, I had to get really close to the boot and wave the key fob around for the boot lid to open. After several attempts and further inspection, I found the hidden boot opening button on the left-hand corner of the rear right light cluster, which was ideal. There’s no automatic boot closing mechanism, you have to pull down the boot from inside the boot lid to close it, and in most cases, you also had to push the boot down to secure it.
Safety and Technological Aspects
Lexus Safety System +
Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert
Adaptive Variable suspension
Vehicle Stability Control.
I know it sounds like a cliché, however, due to its rarity, 181 on the UK roads, it does attract a huge amount of attention. Comments received were:
“What a fantastic-looking car”
“What is it, it looks like a concept car”
Whilst parked up one passerby quizzed me for 15 minutes, and as you can imagine, I was more than happy to oblige and give him a tour.
From a lifestyle perspective, the LC-C 500 is really a two-seater, with a parcel shelf replacing the two rear seats. The boot looks small but is more than adequate with a 149-litre capacity. I managed to fit a small 16-pack of 500ml bottled water, a gym bag, two small grocery shopping bags, and a 20Kg bag of kiln dried logs, in one go. The boot is definitely big enough for a couple of overnight bags, or, small weekend suitcases.
The LC-C 500 certainly has the look of a Supercar. This is a classy and elegantly designed grand touring convertible, built for speed. It’s exhilarating to drive in whichever mode. I know that if I was in the market to upgrade my current vehicle, this would absolutely have my closest consideration. I have already said it, but it needs reiterating, this is a rare car, in the sense that there are not many on the UK roads, this is a sad fact and with the governments mandate of banning the sale of new combustion engine vehicles, and attempting to convert the public to EVs by 2030, will this make it even more so over the next few years. I hope not, as beyond a doubt, it would be a great shame. If you are concerned about your emissions and carbon footprint but don’t want to fully convert to EVs, Lexus does a Hybrid version, the LC-C 500h with a 3.5 Litre V6 engine. If you are in the market for a convertible grand tourer and want to stand out from other brands, I would recommend you pop into your local Lexus showroom. The biggest thing I really didn’t like about the LC-C 500, was seeing it drive away at the end of the week!!
The LC-C 500 was honoured as the Best Open Top in the 2021 UK Car of the Year Awards. Prior to this, it also achieved the international Best Luxury Car accolade announced by the Women’s World Car of the Year Awards.
Finally, if it’s luxury, elegance, performance, and reliability you are looking for, this grand tourer should be near the top of your list.