05 Jul Lexus launch pad
In mid-June Lexus launched its new GT, the LC500, in Franschhoek. Over a few days, first dealers and then the media were hosted at Leeu Estates for a business presentation, supper and sleepover before the following morning converging on FMM’s PlaasPad, from where each group participated in a number of activities in rotation. These included driving on the track, driving over the Franschhoek Pass and back, having a beginner’s class in kintsugi – the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted, or mixed, with powdered gold, silver or platinum – and finally lunch before departing.
The LC500 is Lexus’ new flagship sports coupé built upon an entirely new GA-L floorpan that will underpin future front engine/rear-wheel drive models. It is powered by a 5,0-litre, 32-valve V8 delivering 351 kW at 7 100 r/min and 540 N.m of torque at 4 800, all of which delivers to the fanfare of a driver-variable Active Exhaust. The engine is mated with a 10-speed automatic transmission with manual override and no less than six drive modes. Top speed is 270 km/h, 0-100 km/h takes 4,7 seconds. The engine switches between the Atkinson cycle to enhance fuel efficiency at cruising speeds and the Otto cycle for accelerating and performance.
FMM’s veteran journalist Mike Monk was part of the first media group and thoroughly enjoyed the event, even though continual rain and thick mist put a damper on the driving programme. However, all of the journalists appreciated the wet-weather driving experience carried out in the safe environment afforded at Plaaspad under the trained supervision of FMM’s Wayne Harley and Lorenzo Farella. “It certainly brought home just how much traction and control a modern car can offer even in such adverse conditions,” said Mike after his session at the wheel. Wayne later had a chance to drive the car in drier conditions and commented on just how solidly the car performed, likening the experience to such powerhouses as the Bentley Continental GT. The coupé boasts four-wheel steering amongst its numerous driver support systems.
Priced at R1 729 600, the LC 500 is fully equipped – there are no equipment options, placing it on price parity with top-spec rivals. Winner of multiple Eyes On design awards, Lexus has produced a car to compete with the world’s foremost gran turismos. If the market can open its mind to accepting Lexus into the realm of supercar manufacturers, it will more than stand up to comparison with the establishment.