Lexus’s modifications to the car’s powertrain and running gear have made it a more effective, refined and enjoyable luxury tourer, and have also reinforced the versatility of that hybrid system, which suits our everyday modern motoring existence very well and can give the LC a real turn of pace when it’s needed.
With its old run-flat tyres, the LC didn’t feel like it could ride, handle or steer to its true dynamic potential, but it’s now much, much better in all three respects. The car has both the width and the apparent heft of a GT rather than a front-engined sports car, yet now has respectable ride isolation to match, as well as a clear sense of compliance over undulating roads. The 21in wheels do introduce some fussiness and knobbliness into the cabin over sharper inputs and around town, but the fallout to the car’s secondary ride isn’t nearly as intrusive as it used to be.
Out of town, lateral body control is quite good and taut, and the LC steers keenly, with balance, and with some newly reassuring heft and feel. You perceive the car’s weight much more as it begins to heave and float a little when you take cross-country roads at brisker speeds, but not nearly so much when it’s changing direction. Even then, it’d be uncharitable not to make at least some allowance for the car’s comfortable tuning bias.
Lexus has added some extra crank speed to the rev range of the LC 500h’s V6 petrol engine, which will now spin all the way to 6600rpm if you want it to (and it doesn’t sound half bad when it does, actually). But it’s on part-throttle responsiveness where this Lexus’s performance has benefitted the most. Dial the drive mode selector into Sport S or Sport S+ and you get a sizeable slug of torque from the electric motor with every half-pedal request for roll-on acceleration – so much so that it makes the V6 feel more like a turbocharged motor than an atmospheric one.
The gearbox operates much more like an old-school torque-converter unit than one of Lexus’s other three-speed-food-mixer-like hybrid drive systems. It does seem to shift up through a sequence of defined speeds even when you’re picking up speed quite gently, and it’s nicely responsive, too, when dropping down through the ’box in kickdown (although it still slips a little when doing so, and also when under lots of load).