The LC 500h is Lexus’ first hybrid coupe

It’s been a little more than two months since we entered a new calendar year and Toyota is arguably the busiest automaker out there. On one hand it decided to axe the Scion sub-brand, while on the other hand, it is working on an expansion program for the Lexus division, which received a brand-new member at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show. It is called the LC 500 — it’s drop dead gorgeous, and sports the RC-F’s naturally aspirated V-8 under the hood. We’ve already speculated about the possibility of getting an LC F and LC 500 Convertible in the coming years, and Lexus has just announced that the luxury coupe will go hybrid.

The first derivative of the LC 500 family will break cover at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show and, unsurprisingly, will be sold as the LC 500h. The new vehicle will expand Lexus’ hybrid lineup to seven nameplates, but more importantly, it will become the company’s first two-door with a blue badge on its nose.

The two-door hybrid, which is also based on the LF-LC concept., will debut alongside the LF-FC study, which made its first appearance at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2015. The LC 500h will break cover on March 1st, so make sure you stick around for the full rundown and live photos from Geneva. Meanwhile, keep reading to find out what we already know about Lexus’ first hybrid coupe.

Updated 02/18/2016: Lexus dropped the official specifications and a series of new images for its latest LC 500h.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Lexus LC 500h.

Exterior

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2017 Lexus LC 500h High Resolution Exterior
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2017 Lexus LC 500h High Resolution Exterior
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Much like any hybrid Lexus out there, the LC 500h comes with blue badges front and rear to help set it apart from conventional versions of the same car.

Being based on the LC 500 we saw at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show, the LC 500h is of course identical to its gasoline-powered sibling, save for a few minor details. Much like any hybrid Lexus out there, the LC 500h comes with blue badges front and rear to help set it apart from conventional versions of the same car. Likewise, the "LC 500" lettering under the trunk lid received an additional "h," which stands for hybrid. Then there’s the "Hybrid" badge behind the big intakes in the side skirts. The wheels also seem to be identical to the standard model’s, but there are minor differences in the design. Again, Lexus’ aim is to give its customers a model that’s greener, but equally aggressive by design. And needless to say, the LC 500h is a complete success in this regard.

Everything else is as seen on the LC 500, meaning that the hybrid model sports the same bold and muscular design. Highlights include the massive spindle grille, the redesigned headlamps with the hockey stick-shaped LED daytime running lights, the wide rear fenders, and the big exhaust outlets underneath the trapezoidal rear fascia.

Exterior Dimensions

Overall Length 4,760 mm (187.4 in)
Overall Width 1,920 mm (75.6 in)
Overall Height 1,345 mm (52.9 in)
Wheelbase 2,870 mm (112.9 in)

Interior

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2017 Lexus LC 500h High Resolution Interior Exterior
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2017 Lexus LC 500h High Resolution Interior
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There are minor changes compared to the regular model, but only in the instrument cluster and the infotainment display.

Not surprisingly, the LC 500h’s interior is also identical to the standard model’s. It features the same two-tier dashboard and soft surfaces sewn in high-quality leather and Alcantara, and tremendous craftsmanship all around. There are minor changes compared to the regular model, but only in the instrument cluster and the infotainment display. The former displays additional info about the car’s battery and regenerative breaking system, while the latter should include a couple of extra menus and options related to the hybrid drivetrain.

Speaking of the infotainment system, the new multimedia package, which debuted in the LC 500, features faster, more flexible software enabling future enhancements and an updated graphic user interface. Passengers will also be treated to an exceptional audio experience thanks to a new premium Pioneer audio system that comes as standard equipment. A Mark Levinson audio package is available as an option.

Just like the standard model, the hybrid benefits from a fantastic level of Takumi craftsmanship visible in everything from the upholstery and hand-stitched leather to Alcantara door trim and the exemplary fit and finish.

Drivetrain

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The V-6 makes 295 horsepower and 257 pound-feet of twist, while the electric motor takes the total output to 354 horses.

The LC 500h gets its juice from a brand-new hybrid drivetrain called the Multi Stage Hybrid System. Developed with "a more sporting and engaging driving experience in mind," the system marries a 3.5-liter V-6 gasoline engine, a powerful electric motor, and a lithium-ion battery pack. The most interesting part of the drivetrain, however, is the four-speed automatic gearbox mounted at the rear of the hybrid transmission. It’s a rather peculiar choice given all other Toyota and Lexus hybrids use CVTs, but the brand claims that the four-speed preserves the connection between throttle input and engine speed better than a CVT. On the other hand, Lexus doesn’t explain the need for a four-speed instead of a nine- or ten-speed.

Moving on to performance specs, the V-6 makes 295 horsepower and 257 pound-feet of twist, while the electric motor takes the total output to 354 horses. Lexus estimates that the hybrid will hit 60 mph in less than five seconds, which should be about a half-second slower than the standard model. Not bad given that the LC 500 uses a 467-horsepower 5.0-liter V-8.

The Multi Stage Hybrid System also features and "M" mode, which gives drivers the ability to initiate direct and responsive gear shifts for "the most sporting and engaging drive yet from a Lexus hybrid."

Drivetrain Specifications

Engine type 3.45L hybrid engine
Engine capacity (cc) 3,456
Valve mechanism 24- Valve DOHC VVT-i
Cylinders 6
Bore (mm) 94
Stroke (mm) 83
Engine Maximum output (kW) 295 HP @ 6,600 RPM
Engine Maximum torque (Nm) 256 LB-FT @ 4,900 RPM
Battery Maximum output (kW) 44.6
Battery type Lithium
Battery voltage (V) 310
Battery weight (Kg) 50
Total System Output (kW/HP) 264/354
Target 0-100 km/h (sec.) sub 5 sec.

Suspension

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Just like the LC 500, the hybrid rides on a multi-link front suspension system specifically developed for the car’s large diameter wheels and low engine hood line. The system features two upper and two lower control arms, with double ball joints on each arm, an arrangement that optimizes suspension geometry for a more precise steering response. Several components are crafted from forged aluminum to reduce sprung weight.

Safety

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The LC 500h comes with class-leading safety standards and includes the Lexus’ new Safety System +. The bundle features a range of active safety technologies that help prevent or mitigate collisions in various traffic situations. The Safety System+ combines a precision camera and millimeter-wave radar and includes Pre-Crash Safety with pedestrian detection, All-speed Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane-Keeping Assist, and Automatic High Beam headlamps.

Prices

With the LC 500h still a few weeks away from its official debut, pricing is obviously a mystery. Making things that much more complicated is the fact the Lexus has yet to reveal pricing information for the standard LC 500. The only thing we know for a fact is that the hybrid version will be more expensive than the gasoline-only model. With that in mind, expect the LC 500h to fetch well above the $100,000 mark before options.

Competition

BMW i8

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The size of the LC 500 allowed us to compare it to the commanding Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe, but since the Germans aren’t offering a hybrid yet, we have to look at smaller vehicles in this niche. The i8 might not be as roomy and luxurious as the LC 500h, but it has just enough oomph to qualify as a fast coupe. Power comes from a 1.5-liter, three-cylinder rated at 231 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque and an electric motor that generates 131 horses and 184 pound-feet. Total output sits at 362 horsepower and a whopping 420 pound-feet of twist, which enables the i8 to hit 60 mph in only 4.3 seconds, making it quicker than the gasoline-only LC 500. This German coupe can travel up to 372 miles with a full tank and a fully charged battery, while its electric motor has enough energy for 22 miles. Pricing for the i8 starts from $140,700.

Find out more about the BMW i8 here.

Conclusion

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Lexus did a tremendous job with the LC 500, creating a luxury coupe that has what it takes to compete against the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. It’s big, luxurious and powerful, and more importantly, it’s gorgeous to look at. Sure, it might not be as roomy as its German counterpart in the rear, but it sports a muscular yet elegant appearance not even the S-Class can match. The fact that Lexus will give it a hybrid drivetrain makes it that much better. In fact, until Mercedes launches a hybrid version of the S-Class Coupe, the LC 500h will be the only luxury coupe on the market using such a powertrain.

  • Leave it
    • The BMW i8 is quicker
    • S-Class Coupe hybrid underway
    • Pretty expensive

Press Release

First revealed by Akio Toyoda at the 2016 North America International Auto Show, the styling, performance and craftsmanship of the new Lexus LC 500 clearly position it as the flagship coupe of the Lexus lineup. Inspired by the acclaimed LF-LC concept that debuted in 2012, the LC represents a shift in Lexus’ engineering processes and design direction, and marks the beginning of a new phase for the Lexus brand.

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Following the world premiere of the V8-powered LC 500, Lexus introduces the All-New LC 500h which features the world’s first Multi Stage Hybrid System, the next generation of hybrid powertrains specifically designed for performance vehicles.

Seduction & Technology Design
Combining avant garde elegance with dynamic coupe proportions, the seductive form of the new LC 500h remains remarkably true to the key design elements, proportions and visual dynamism of the award-winning LF-LC concept car that inspired it.

The LC 500h is enveloped by a glamorous exterior which represents a uniquely evocative, more fluid interpretation of Lexus’ L-finesse design philosophy. With a long 2,870 mm (112.9 in) wheelbase, compact 920 mm (36.2 in) front and 970 mm (38.2 in) rear overhangs and a notably low bonnet line, the coupe’s athletic profile is characterised by a sweeping roofline which tapers from the central position of the occupants, creating a uniquely human-centred silhouette.

Front and rear wings that house wide, large diameter wheels flare away from the centre position of the occupants, whilst the door sides are pulled inwards to create a powerfully three-dimensional form—in plan view, a new spindle architecture shape which mirrors Lexus’ signature spindle grille. To the front, the latest interpretation of that spindle grille motif features chrome trim and a radical new mesh design of varying visual tension. The LC 500h’s unique lighting signature combines independent, arrowhead Daytime Running Lights (DRL) with a triple LED headlamp unit, the ultra-compact engineering of which has helped to maintain the coupe’s low bonnet line and short front overhang.

To the rear, the sweeping cabin roofline tapers between broad, muscular rear wheel arches to reinforce the LC 500h’s wide, stable stance. The rear lamp signature is equally unique, a sequence of increasingly strongly lit L-shaped LED lamps that creates an exceptional three-dimensional impression. The outstanding driving dynamics of the LC 500h are also reflected in subtle yet functional aerodynamic measures. Front and rear wheel arch venting improves high speed stability, and a rear diffuser and active rear spoiler further manage airflow during performance driving.

The new LC 500h will be available with a choice of bespoke, 20" cast and 20" and 21" forged aluminium alloy wheels.

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Driving Pleasure & Comfort
The all-new interior design of the LC 500h reflects the exterior design theme of dynamic luxury with a cabin that combines all the elegance, quality and sophistication of a Lexus premium coupe with high driving pleasure and comfort for passenger. Whilst the front passenger area is shaped to spread out towards the front, creating a comfortable and welcoming space, the driving position has been painstakingly created to invite spirited driving, and promote driver confidence through an intuitive control layout and ergonomic excellence.

The driver’s hip point has been engineered to be as close as possible to the coupe’s centre of gravity, maximising feedback from the vehicle to the driver. And the holding performance of the seats has been enhanced through a renewed focus on the cross-section design. Particular attention has been paid to the design of a new steering wheel, which features a change in cross-sectional shape throughout the rim circumference to accommodate variations in grip and the twisting of the wrist during operation. And new, larger magnesium alloy paddle shifters have been shaped for easier reach and a more positive action.

All information displays have been carefully arranged in order of importance by their proximity to the driver’s sight line. The instrument binnacle itself houses a variation of the innovative driver’s meter with moving centre ring from the LFA, and the centre console features a next-generation touch pad for the Remote Touch Interface (RTI).

The 2017 Lexus multimedia package debuts with the LC, and features faster, more flexible software enabling future enhancements and an updated graphic user interface. Listeners will also be treated to an exceptional audio experience inside the cabin: in addition to the available audiophile-worthy Mark Levinson audio package, a new premium Pioneer audio system comes as standard equipment.

Throughout the new interior, the quality and finish of upholstery, hand-stitched leather centre console and dash pad, and drape forming Alcantara door trim, reflect a level of Takumi craftsmanship and attention to detail for which Lexus is globally renowned.

Multi Stage Hybrid System
The Multi Stage Hybrid System was developed with opposing goals in mind: to create a hybrid with a more sporting and engaging driving experience by closely aligning engine speed with throttle inputs, and to achieve the best possible balance of power and fuel consumption.

The new Multi Stage Hybrid System marries the elements of a traditional full hybrid powertrain -including a 3.5 litre V6 petrol engine, a powerful electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack to a 4-speed automatic gearbox mounted at the rear of the hybrid transmission. The electric motor generates better acceleration feel than a conventional engine, and adding physical gears more closely aligns engine rpm with the driver’s inputs. The result is a much more direct connection between the accelerator pedal and vehicle acceleration, and 0-100 km/h times well into the sub-5 second range

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The Lexus Multi Stage Hybrid System also features ‘M’ Mode—the first driver-initiated gear shifts offered on a Lexus full hybrid powertrain. ‘M’ Mode gives drivers the ability to initiate direct and responsive gear shifts for the most sporting and engaging drive yet from a Lexus hybrid. A new lightweight and compact electric motor and a lithium-ion battery offset the weight of the added automatic transmission, and so the Multi Stage Hybrid System weighs the same as the current hybrid powertrain—an amazing feat of engineering.

All-New Platform
Heralding a new generation of more engaging and responsive vehicles, the new LC 500h has been designed to offer customers a significantly sharper, more refined driving experience. It combines the superior ride quality befitting a flagship luxury sports coupe with an engaging, dynamic drive and a depth of character unlike that of any previous Lexus.

The LC 500h is the first Lexus to benefit from the company’s all-new, premium rear-wheel drive platform; part of a new corporate global architecture for luxury vehicles (GA-L). The underpinnings of this new coupe will become the blueprint for future front-engine/rear-wheel drive Lexus models.

Platform design is fundamental to dynamic handling characteristics. At the outset, Lexus engineers focused on what they refer to as the LC 500h’s “inertia specification”, placing most of the vehicle mass, including the engine and occupants, as low and centralised as possible within the chassis.

The powertrain mass is located behind the front axle line creating a “front mid-ship” layout while very short front and rear overhangs push the large diameter tyres to the vehicle extremities. The wheels are shod with run-flat tyres that eliminate the weight and weight-distribution penalty of a full-size spare tyre, while driver hip and heel points have been substantially lowered.

The centre of gravity has been further lowered by the introduction of numerous technical innovations which reduce the body weight of the LC 500h. These include aluminium front hood and fenders, aluminium door skins mounted on a carbon fibre structure, a carbon and glass composite boot lid, aluminium front suspension towers, ultra-compact LED headlamps, available forged alloy wheels and carbon fibre roof.

The extensive use of strategically located high-tensile steel body structures reduces weight, improves weight-distribution and increases body rigidity, all of which promote consistent, predictable handling behaviour and sharper steering responses.

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Particular attention has been paid to the development of the LC 500h’s multi-link front suspension system, adopted to allow for the vehicle’s large diameter wheels while at the same time accommodating a very low bonnet line.

The system features two upper and two lower control arms, with double ball joints on each arm. This arrangement optimises suspension geometry to facilitate precise control from driver inputs and road conditions, creating a more precise steering response.

Optimising the sharpness in both steering and suspension movement, sprung weight has been reduced as much as possible through the extensive use of lightweight, forged aluminium componentry. And the system demonstrates exceptional rigidity under lateral g loading.

In combination, these chassis and suspension development measures offer an entirely natural, non-taxing driving experience which combines sharp responses, exceptional handing balance and straight line stability with the ride comfort appropriate to a Lexus flagship coupe.

Class-Leading Safety Standards
The new LC 500h is fitted, as standard, with the Lexus Safety System +, a newly developed portfolio of active safety technologies designed to help prevent or mitigate collisions across a wide range of traffic situations.

Combining a camera and millimetre-wave radar for a high level of detection performance, the Lexus Safety System+ features a Pre-Crash Safety (PCS) system with a pedestrian detection function, which helps prevent or mitigate the severity of collisions, All-speed Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane-Keeping Assist (LKA), and Automatic High Beam (AHB) headlamp technology.

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