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2021 Lexus LC 500 First Drive: Sporty in its Own Way

2021 Lexus LC 500 | Photo: B.Charette
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Benoit Charette
The LC 500 also gets a convertible version for 2021; we look forward to reviewing when spring rolls around

Auto123 test drives the 2021 Lexus LC 500.

The biggest news touching on the newest member of the Lexus family for 2021 is that it adds a convertible version. However, as our first encounter with the latest edition of the model took place at the tail end of October, Lexus preferred to provide us with a coupe. This spectacular two-door LC retains the model’s beautiful lines. For 2021, Lexus simply reworked the suspension, softening the ride with a few new features to give the car a little more bite.

Like a rose in springtime
The LC is one of the most successful two-door models on the market. That's probably why Lexus hasn't really changed anything except for the addition of new 20-inch wheels and two new paint colours in the product offering: Cadmium Orange and the Nori Green Pearl you see in our images.

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2021 Lexus LC 500, profile
2021 Lexus LC 500, profile |

The interior, every bit as futuristic as the exterior, is also largely unchanged. Android Auto is now included along with Apple CarPlay, and both are now standard in the LC’s infotainment system. A new Flare Red leather interior replaces last year's Rioja Red option, and the white leather option has been discontinued. The finish remains with apparent fault, and you still feel like you're sitting in a spaceship.

2021 Lexus LC 500, interior
2021 Lexus LC 500, interior | Photo: B.Charette

A V8 as vivacious as ever
There are no changes to report under the hood of the LC. It's increasingly rare to find a V8 that doesn't come with turbos these days, though, and the LC is part of that short list of sports cars with naturally aspirated V8 engines. Lexus still uses the engine of the RC-F, a 5.0L V8 making 471 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque that is mated solely to a 10-speed automatic transmission.

I’ll say it again, there's no substitute for the sound of a V8 when you’re firm with the gas pedal. True, the LC doesn't have AMG-like aggression or surreal performance, but it's got all the power needed to stick a smile on your face.

Lexus has adjusted the suspension to make it more comfortable for the 2021 model year, without sacrificing the dynamism of the drive. To which we tip our hat, because one of our initial observations on driving the latest LC was that the ride firmness is improved for 2021. Lexus has also added Active Cornering Assist, which improves handling by lightly applying the brakes to the inside wheels during cornering. The result is that the car enters a curve with greater confidence.

2021 Lexus LC 500, front
2021 Lexus LC 500, front | Photo: B.Charette

Our tester also came with the $13,500 Performance Package. For this, you get a Torsen limited-slip differential, four-wheel steering, variable ratio steering, 21-inch forged wheels, retractable rear spoiler, front sport seats, 8-way power adjustable driver's seat, Alcantara and leather seats, carbon-fibre roof, carbon-fibre reinforced polymer wear plates and Alcantara headliner. This option, which by the way was the only one that came with the car, brings the price to just over $119,000.

Those who lean more to luxury than performance can opt for the Touring Package, which includes semi-aniline leather upholstery, faux suede headliner, 13-speaker Mark Levinson stereo system, parking sensors, wiper defroster and heated steering wheel.

An experience like no other
We had some concerns when we saw the 21-inch tires on our test model, but were relived to discover that the ride comfort is good. You have to think of the LC as a Grand Touring car. It has everything it takes to go fast, but it's more pleasant at moderate speeds, and if we had to choose our options, we would probably have opted for the Touring Package and kept the base chassis, without the Performance Package.

2021 Lexus LC 500, front-row seats
2021 Lexus LC 500, front-row seats | Photo: B.Charette

Even though it's fast, the LC is no match for competing models carrying the AMG, RS and M badges. Its lack of raw power and very heavy weight simply leaves it far behind in this regard. However, this handicap is more than compensated for by its unmatched style. You have to think differently at the wheel of this car, and the wise person learns to soak in and appreciate the unique driving environment it provides. The interior is a special place with a unique and pleasant driving position. You can see all the work that has been done to design every detail.

With a few small exceptions. The concept of ergonomics is foreign to the touchpad, which is frankly a nonsensical element to put in a car. I’m not a big fan either of the electronic shift lever, similar to the one in the Toyota Prius. Further back, the rear seats will only be used for extra luggage, which you’ll have to do given the pint-sized trunk in back of them.

The LC 500 is for those who want something unique but aren’t intent on pure performance from their car. The LC is a state of mind much more than it is a performance car. We look forward to spring to see what that state of mind will be with a removable top.

2021 Lexus LC 500, three-quarters rear
2021 Lexus LC 500, three-quarters rear | Photo: B.Charette

We like

Exceptional interior design
A true naturally aspirated V8 under the hood
Long list of standard equipment

We like less

The frustrating touchpad
Limited cargo space in the trunk and little interior storage space
Not as sporty and powerful as the competition

2021 Lexus LC 500, rear
2021 Lexus LC 500, rear | Photo: B.Charette

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Benoit Charette
Benoit Charette
Automotive expert
  • More than 30 years of experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 65 test drives last year
  • Attended more than 200 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists