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The volcano erupts - Lexus LC500 Hokkaido Edition

Lexus launches the LC sports car either as a coupe or convertible version as a special edition called "Hokkaido Edition". Special colors, rims and a subtly adapted interior make up their exclusivity. Only 40 copies of the special edition are available for Europe. The vehicle shown here is number 3 of 80 vehicles worldwide (40 coupés and 40 cabriolets each).

The customer can choose between the Lexus LC500 as a coupé or the convertible. The Hokkaido Edition comes in either Vulcano Red, Fuji White, Graphite Black or the Iridium Silver like shown here in this review. An indigo red soft top is also available for the convertible version. The exclusive special equipment includes 21-inch forged wheels in a partially polished double-spoke design. The Black Sport package with its black trim rounds off the exterior design.

The name and character of the special series are inspired by the island of Hokkaido in northern Japan. Famous for its volcanoes, it is also home to Lexus' Shibetsu test track, where cars like the famous LFA supercar were honed to perfection. The LC also received its finishing touches right there with precise fine-tuning by the "Takumi" test drivers.

First impressions

Silver paintjob and a dark red top, paired with a red and black interior is definitely not for everyone. But this daring color combination works amazingly well to my eyes. The restrained silver gives the dark red a clear appearance, whereby the Lexus LC500 will probably look good in every imaginable color, this combination complements each other in a harmonious and elegant weighting. I would have liked the black accents alone (understandably as a contrast to the silver paintwork) better as chrome or alloy looking elements.

The LC's L-shaped LED parking lights emphasize the brand's design language and are creatively incorporated into the design. Whether as a free-standing element in the front, which reminds me of Nike's «Swoosh», or as a kind of tunnel vision in the rear light, the front and rear of the car cause a stir.

The entire line of the outer dress is very independent, which makes the Lexus LC500 a very unusual-looking vehicle as a Gran Turismo. In a good way, of course. It easily stands out from the crowd and even after a few years of construction it still looks very fresh, even futuristic. Surprisingly, the original LC500 concept car is already eleven years old. It's unbelievable that the car still looks so contemporary.

what it's about

It's a Gran Turismo. A car made for long-distance travel, equipped with a powerful engine that produces a decent sound, excellent design and rather less user-friendliness. The LC meets all these criteria and proves to be a fully-fledged GT convertible. However, I would have liked the car to be a little more practical as the rear seats are almost unusable and the trunk is modest compared to the size of the car. At least in the coupe version it will be larger, and the rear seats will serve as additional space for luggage and backpacks. And before you point out the Lexus, a Porsche 911 and a Polestar 1 just don't get any more practical!

And while we're at the comparison; The fully equipped Lexus LC500 in the cabriolet version can be compared to the basic prices of around CHF 150,000 for a BMW 840i or Porsche 911 Carrera. Only the mentioned German competition either has around 100 hp less power in the BMW or no optional extras in the Porsche. It is also worth mentioning teasingly that the BMW and the Porsche are delivered in the basic equipment without an air scarf.

To the interior

The interior has everything you could have wished for. From the finest materials as far as the eye can see up to self-confident design and elaboration of the textile work in the interior. Premium is the order of the day here.

It is worth mentioning some small details that make the Lexus a unique vehicle. Among other things, it is surprising that Lexus still offers a CD player. Something you definitely don't see on a new car every day.

The air conditioning and heating are adjusted via toggle switches on the dashboard below the screen. Very intuitive, easy and quick to find. Unfortunately, this is no longer a matter of course today.

To my knowledge, the Lexus LC500 is the only vehicle that can move the physical speedometer at the touch of a button in the cockpit to provide the driver with more information on the dashboard.

A typical Japanese detail are the knobs above the cockpit, with which you can set the different driving modes and turn off the traction control.

Now we come to the LC's lagging, namely the very fluffy touchpad and the extremely slow navigation system which also looks very outdated. In addition, the seat heating, the steering wheel heating and the air scarf can only be adjusted via the infotainment system and thus only via the small touchpad. On the other hand, these gadgets still allow some comfortable open-top driving on beautiful winter days while temperatures are around the freezing point.

Oh, and there's the aforementioned rear seats, which are utterly useless to passengers unless you're carrying a few bags due to the tiny trunk or two small children.

Driving experience

If you decide to buy a Lexus LC, there's honestly only one legitimate option. Whether it's a coupé or a convertible, without a doubt you have to go for the V8. The sound is a pure orchestra at its finest, or rather an erupting volcano! Understatement at low revs and a dramatic roar above 3000 rpm. The sound reminds me a bit of the great Maserati V8s and Alfa Romeo 8Cs (I know they have the same base engines). And manual downshifting to lower gears definitely gives you goosebumps. Pretty addictive! However, in any other scenario, it's better to let the 10-speed automatic transmission do its own thing. All in all, the LC500 sounds very powerful, although the 464 hp aren't that noticeable. But it's still a fast naturally aspirated GT! And that's what it's all about.

Although the car feels very heavy in tight corners, the LC feels comfortable on country roads and highways. A very relaxed cruiser that will put a smile on your face every time you leave a village and hear the rumble of the 5.0 liter V8. Like listening to Otis Redding's latest mystical tales, which he's about to tell you.

I set myself the challenge of driving as economically as possible to learn about the fuel saving potential of the V8 engine and surprisingly easily managed to achieve an average fuel consumption of 8.2 l/100 km on motorways and an average of just under 7.9 l/100 km on country roads without adapting my grandparents' driving style. But with enough foresight so that the energy already consumed in the form of acceleration is not unnecessarily converted into heat during a braking process.

On the other hand, if you want to fully enjoy the LC's V8, you could easily achieve an overall average consumption of 11-12 l/100 km.

The optional wind deflector (surcharge CHF 1,090.00) is a must-have and transforms the open-top driving into a real pleasure if you want as little wind as possible. It really serves its purpose perfectly.

Ultimately, however, the Lexus LC500 scores as an overall concept. It conveys the driver to be something special. And to be different. Because being different is not wrong, it is refreshing and exciting. After all, many roads lead to Rome. This way with a boldly chosen detour. But the goal of offering a luxurious Gran Turismo has definitely been achieved by Lexus with the LC500.

What should I buy?

Strictly speaking, the Lexus LC 500 Excellence can be equipped in almost the same configuration via the configurator. Logically, the numbered plaque in the interior and the special rims are missing. However, the LC500 will then come with the new infotainment system offering the hoped-for touch display, which should allow more intuitive operation and, in my opinion, will definitely do so. I also find the trim elements in gray and chrome for the Lexus much more suitable than the black painted elements.

Finally, I can absolutely recommend the Lexus LC500 with the V8 combustion engine as an exclusive Gran Turismo with maximum rarity factor. It harmoniously combines exclusivity, luxury and power into a very unusual overall concept that is impressive. It makes the heart of every individualist beat faster, because uniformity is definitely not part of the agenda here.

As a purchase argument, the ten-year or 160,000 km limited warranty speaks for itself. These values are unique in the premium segment, as is the Lexus LC500 itself.

Finally, I would like to thank Lexus Switzerland for the cooperation that I was allowed to properly test drive their Lexus LC500 Hokkaido Edition. It has been a huge pleasure!

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