Wow! Lexus LC 500h Performance Hybrid

lexus-lc500h-actionInspired by the LF-LC concept unveiled by Lexus four years ago, the 2017 Lexus LC 500 is destined to become the automaker’s flagship coupe. Now it will be joined by a hybrid LC 500h variant. The model represents a shift in Lexus’ engineering and design direction, and thus marks the beginning of a new phase for the Lexus brand with several ‘firsts.’

The LC 500h features the world’s first Multi Stage Hybrid System, a next-generation hybrid powertrain specifically designed for performance vehicles. The system was developed with two opposing objectives: First, to provide a hybrid with a more sporting and engaging driving experience by closely aligning engine speed with throttle inputs. And second, to achieve the best possible balance between power and fuel consumption.

2016.02.08Like the non-hybrid LC 500, a 295 horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine is used in the LC 500h. The LC 500h adds a new lightweight and compact electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack, with a four-speed automatic transmission mounted at the rear of the hybrid transmission. A lighter electric motor offsets the added weight of the automatic transmission, meaning the Multi Stage Hybrid System weighs the same as Lexus’ current hybrid powertrain. An ‘M’ Mode offers the first driver-initiated gear shifts on a Lexus full hybrid powertrain. M Mode allows making direct and responsive gear shifts for the most sporting and engaging drive yet from a Lexus hybrid model.

The electric motor generates better acceleration feel than a conventional engine while adding physical gears more closely aligns engine rpm with driver inputs. The result is a much more direct connection between the accelerator pedal and vehicle acceleration. A total of 354 horsepower results in 0-60 mph times under 5 seconds.

2016.02.08The LC 500 and 500h are the first to use the automaker’s all-new, premium rear-wheel-drive luxury platform that will become the basis for the company’s future front-engine/rear-wheel-drive vehicles. For enhanced dynamic capability and performance, Lexus engineers focused on what they refer to as the LC 500h’s ‘inertia specification.’ This places most of the vehicle mass, including the engine and occupants, as low and centralized as possible within the chassis.  Locating the powertrain behind the front axle results in a front mid-ship layout while very short front and rear overhangs push the large diameter tires to the vehicle corners.

Handling is enhanced by a center of gravity that’s further lowered by reducing body weight, in part through the use of an aluminum hood and fenders, aluminum door skins on a carbon fiber structure,  a carbon and glass composite trunk lid, and carbon fiber roof. Aluminum front suspension towers, forged alloy wheels, and ultra-compact LED headlamps also contribute. The model’s extensive use of a high-tensile steel body structure further reduces weight, improves weight-distribution, and increases body rigidity.  Run-flat tires eliminate the weight and weight-distribution penalty of a full-size spare.

lexus-lc500h-leadThe LC 500h’s multi-link front suspension system allows for large diameter wheels while keeping a very low hood line. It features two upper and two lower control arms, with double ball joints on each arm. This arrangement optimizes suspension geometry to facilitate precise control from driver inputs and road conditions, creating exceptional steering response.

Included as part of LC 500h standard equipment is Lexus Safety System + to help prevent or mitigate collisions across a wide range of traffic situations. Combining a camera and millimeter-wave radar for a high level of detection performance, the system features a Pre-Crash Safety system with pedestrian detection to help prevent or lessen the severity of collisions, All-speed Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane-Keeping Assist, and Automatic High Beam headlamp technology are also included.

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