With dramatic looks and V8 power, Lexus’s new LC coupé is a quirky alternative to Jaguar’s F-Type R. Let’s see which one you should buy
*** Note : £1 = $1.35 (correct at time of post)
Jaguar F-Type 5.0 V8 R Coupé AWD
- List price £92,660
- Target Price £87,480
This Jaguar is long in the tooth, but the fabulous engine is as raucous as ever.
Lexus LC 500 Sport+ Pack
- List price £85,895
- Target Price £85,895
Lashings of style and an old-school V8 give this new coupé genuine sports car appeal.
Hipsters. You know the sort. They strut proudly around Shoreditch with immaculately unkempt facial hair, tattoos erupting out from their necklines, trouser hems dangling recklessly above their ankles, hanging out in cafes that sell bowls of cereal for £6. Hipsters shun the mainstream; they adore unknown niches, and they’ll pay a premium for it.
Well, Lexus might just have the ideal car for them. The new LC 500 is an upmarket Japanese coupé that breaks away from conventional wisdom. With head-turning looks and an old-school 471bhp naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V8 rather than the downsized turbocharged engine you might expect, it’s a left-fi eld choice that should appeal to automotively inclined trend-setters.
Tested in top-spec Sport+ Pack form, the LC is up against the rabidly fast and apocalyptically loud Jaguar F-Type R Coupé, which comes with a 542bhp supercharged 5.0-litre V8 engine and four-wheel drive.
Driving – Performance, ride, handling, refinement
Coupés, especially at this end of the market, must be thrilling to drive as well as comfortable.
The F-Type wins the first battle. The performance on offer from its V8 is utterly ferocious and, away from the line, its four-wheel drive system means it leaves the less powerful rear-wheel-drive LC in the dust, scrabbling for traction. On a damp test track, the F-Type is almost one and a half seconds quicker from 0-60mph.
Press the sports exhaust button in the F-Type and all that performance is accompanied by a brutal soundtrack that’s about as subtle as a rugby player taking his top off in the middle of a nightclub dance floor after 12 pints of ale.
The noise from the LC is altogether more understated but still something to savour. It sounds best in hardcore Sport Plus mode during the chase to the 7250rpm redline from 4000rpm – which is also where the engine needs to be to deliver its best performance. Once it’s in its stride, the LC is a very quick car – just not quite in the same league as the F-Type, which doesn’t need as many revs on the dial before it really starts to fling you at the horizon.
Both automatic gearboxes do a good job of shifting smoothly through the gears, although the F-Type’s eight-speed unit is just a bit quicker than the Lexus’s 10-speeder when you take control using the paddles behind the steering wheel.
The F-Type can carry a lot more speed through corners than the LC, too, generating more grip as it flings you out the other side. A quick steering rack means you don’t even need to apply much lock and there’s plenty of feedback filtering up to your fingertips.
In the LC, corners are more of an inconvenience. The steering is nowhere near as sharp as the F-Type’s; despite having standard four-wheel steering, which turns the rear wheels as well as the front ones with the aim of making the car more agile in corners, the first five degrees or so are a bit lifeless. The LC is still good fun to drive, but it doesn’t make you want to tackle corners with as much gusto. It’s a bigger, heavier car, so it doesn’t change direction quite as eagerly. The LC’s brake pedal doesn’t give you as much confidence as the F-Type’s, either, although it actually pulls up from 70mph in a shorter distance.
But as we’ve said, coupés need to be comfortable as well as fun. On the motorway, you’ll feel much more relaxed in the LC, thanks to its softer, more cosseting ride and much quieter interior. The F-Type isn’t uncomfortable, but it’s always slightly firmer and suffers from much more wind, road and engine noise.
Behind the wheel – Driving position, visibility, build quality
There’s no doubt the LC’s interior is far more upmarket than the F-Type’s. The intricate stitching, plush-feeling buttons, slick-looking screens and the nice touch of an analogue clock create a charm that makes the LC feel worth its lofty price.
The F-Type’s interior is dour in comparison. It’s neither as robust nor as charming as the LC’s, although the more logical layout means you won’t get a headache trying to work out how to turn on the optional heated seats.
The LC’s standard sports seats are especially comfortable, with eight-way electric adjustment. The F-Type’s seats have 12-way electric adjustment but aren’t quite as supportive. Both cars have electrically adjustable steering columns that allow a wide range of height and reach movement.
Visibility is better in the LC, because the F-Type’s windscreen is narrower and the windscreen pillars interfere more with your view out at junctions. The LC also gets a reversing camera as standard – a feature that costs an extra £275 in the F-Type.
Our F-Type was fitted with an 8.0in touchscreen, but, if you order one now you will get a 10.0in system running Jaguar’s latest Touch Pro software. We’ve tested this system in other cars and although it’s reasonably quick to respond, it can be a bit fiddly to operate on the move, because it’s controlled entirely through the touschscreen. A handy feature of the system is the ability to control certain functions, such as air-con, remotely from your phone through an app.
All LCs get a 10.25in infotainment system as standard, controlled via shortcut buttons and a fiddly laptop-style touchpad between the front seats. You get sat-nav, a DAB radio and Bluetooth, but operating it while driving is very difficult. Unfortunately, there’s no hope of alleviating some of the frustrations by using your smartphone instead, because Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone mirroring aren’t available in either car.
Space and practicality – Front space, rear space, seating flexibility, boot
With its attractive but impractical sloping roofline, the LC has a bit less front head room than the F-Type, but because it’s a much longer car, it offers more leg room.
The F-Type is a strict two-seater, whereas the LC has two rear seats, but they’re really for emergency use only. They do have Isofix fittings, so you can squeeze a couple of child seats in, but head room for adults is very tight.
Both boots are quite awkwardly shaped. The F-Type’s has a much smaller opening and the load area itself isn’t quite as wide as the LC’s. However, the LC has awkward steps and lumps in its boot floor that intrude on space. In fact, it’s the main reason why only three carry-on suitcases can be squeezed into its boot, whereas the F-Type can take four.
- Official boot capacity 310 litres
- Suitcase capacity 4
The F-Type has a much narrower boot opening, but there is more usable space inside and a smaller lip. It’s comfy up front, but a narrow windscreen and low driving position result in a lot of grey dashboard in your line of view.
- Official boot capacity 197 litres
- Suitcase capacity 3
The LC is a longer and wider car than the F-Type, so it offers more leg room up front as well as the addition of two rear seats. These have Isofix fittings, so child seats can be accommodated, but head room is very tight for adults.
Buying and owning – Costs, equipment, reliability, safety and security
It’s a clear-cut win for the LC here. It’s much cheaper to own privately, thanks to its lower list price and monthly PCP finance payments. Yes, the LC will cost you a bit more to fuel, but it’s cheaper to insure. However, the biggest difference is how much better the LC is predicted to hold onto its value over three years.
The F-Type finished rock bottom in its class in our latest reliability survey, with a worrying 90 faults per 100 cars. The LC is too new to have any specific data yet, although Lexus finished first (out of 32 brands) for dependability.
On the equipment front, the F-Type looks a bit stingy. You have to pay extra for front parking sensors and a reversing camera, while luxuries such as a heated steering wheel and heated seats are available only as part of expensive packs, whereas both of are standard on the cheaper LC.
In Sport+ form, the LC comes with a standard limited-slip differential, retractable rear spoiler, carbonfibre roof, 21in alloy wheels and four-wheel steering as standard. Yet, we’d be tempted to save £10,000 and stick with the entry-level model.
Very few cars, especially those priced south of £100,000, provide anything like the aural onslaught offered up by the F-Type R’s V8. Its rivals are but a mouse’s squeak to its lion’s roar. The F-Type is also very, very quick. So, if you prefer a brazen and brash approach, you won’t be disappointed.
But the LC 500 makes the F-Type look like a bit of a one-trick pony. Yes, it isn’t quite as rewarding when pushed hard, but the LC 500 is still thrilling to drive. It’s a more rounded everyday proposition, too, with a more cosseting ride, a couple of occasional rear seats, a nicer interior and a characterful engine. The fact that it’s also cheaper seals the win. It’s still a niche choice, but in this test it’s a worthy winner.
1st – Lexus LC
- For Comfier ride; much better interior; characterful engine; cheaper to buy
- Against Terrible infotainment; awkward boot shape; poor steering feel
Specifications: Lexus LC 500 Sport+ Pack
- Engine size 8cyl, 4969cc, petrol
- List price £85,895
- Target Price £85,895
- Power 471bhp @ 7100rpm
- Torque 398lb ft @ 4800rpm
- Gearbox 10-spd automatic
- 0-60mph 5.2sec
- Top speed 168mph
- Gov’t fuel economy 24.4mpg
- CO2 emissions 267g/km
2nd – Jaguar F-Type
- For Amazing-sounding engine; ferocious performance; more usable boot
- Against More expensive to buy and run; interior looks and feels dated
Specifications: Jaguar F-Type 5.0 V8 R Coupé AWD
- Engine 8cyl, 5000cc, supercharged, petrol
- List price £92,660
- Target Price £87,480
- Power 542bhp @ 5500rpm
- Torque 295lb ft @ 1500-4500rpm
- Gearbox 8-spd automatic
- 0-60mph 3.9sec
- Top speed 186mph
- Gov’t fuel economy 25.0mpg
- CO2 emissions 269g/km