First dates can be a nightmare – not the date itself (that’s a different story), I’m talking more about the pressure that surrounds it. It doesn’t help that the date is shrouded in anticipation (I assume from both sides) but if you are the person organising it, trying to decide on the correct venue, albeit restaurant, park, function, what to wear, transportation and so on, I’m sure you all know the score. However, bizarrely, very often; the second date receives far less focus when it comes to preparation; and I believe it shouldn’t.
You see, assuming all went well with the initial encounter (otherwise why are you going through it again) the second and subsequent dates are far more involved. The second date, is where you should really begin to get to know the person behind the initial facade, you should start to really listen for the ‘signs’ both good and bad and look way beyond the initial attraction – as such it should warrant much more than popcorn and a movie.
The same thing went through my mind I picked up the LC500 for the second time. The initial ‘date’ in Queenstown, with its breathtaking scenery, the 5 star hotel, and the racy time around the Highlands Motorsport Park, of course made me starry eye’d, but I wanted to get to know far more about the object of my desire, and Lexus happily let me take her away for the weekend.
I had been given the option of meeting either of the twins again (the V6 Hybrid or the Naturally Aspirated V8), and don’t get me wrong, I would have been happy to spend my time with either, but call me old fashioned, I gave chose to give my rose to the more vocal of the two, the 5.0.
I picked her up in Ponsonby (of course) and she was dressed to thrill in Garnet Red and Ochre. Plenty of bright chrome bling and 21” forged alloy high heels. Possibly a little too posh for the weekend I had planned but very easy on the eye nonetheless. You see, rather than a weekend filled of opulent hotels and places to be ‘seen’, I wanted to understand what made LC tick, and possibly introduce her to the family – maybe even the wife would like her?
Enough of all that! The LC500’s design is a standout, it’s a grand tourer with head turning good looks. The two door coupe hails from the same Motomachi home that the LFA was born and although the similarities are very apparent, the LC500 undoubtedly has its own unique style.
Long aluminium bonnet with the Lexus spindle grille perfectly integrated. Angry/squinty Bi-Beam LED headlights, with Lexus hook DRL’s. The front nose ‘air curtains’ channel cooling wind in towards the wheels while the side; body coloured rocker moulding and flush door handles keep the air flowing smoothly towards its staunch rear end where the tapering roofline comes down to meet it. The rear features multi reflective LED lights (that you can get lost in) and quad exhaust tips and a retracting boot lip spoiler complete the sporty look. In short; I challenge you to find an unattractive angle.
The interior is just as engaging. I initially didn’t like the ochre (kind of tan) colour scheme but by the end of the weekend it just seemed ideal. Leather and fine stitching (Takumi craftsmanship) throughout. The seating is both supportive and comfortable (well for the front two people anyway). Infotainment, including Mark Levinson audio and Sat Nav with SUNA, comes to you via a 10.3” high res display screen, are all controlled via an easy to use touchpad and it even has an analogue clock as all high end vehicles should.
Now onto the fun stuff (ok more fun stuff). Push button start and the 5.0L, V8, 32 valve quad-cam engine roars into life. Yes it’s borderline neanderthal but the sound still tingles the nerves, it ‘settles’ shortly thereafter but rest assured it isn’t long before you invite it back to rear its noisy head again. This powerful (351kW/540Nm) beast is connected to a direct shift close ratio 10-speed transmission via a real leather gear knob or paddles, the latter becoming my preference.
Slip into first and you’re off. Despite the low stance, visibility is good and the LC500 offers very little drama while navigating around city streets. The steering weight seems varied, soft at low speed, increasing as you get faster and even in ‘normal’ the LC500 pulls away nicely with a lovely note from the exhaust system.
Move out to the freeway and up to a cruising speed of 100kph, a place that the LC feels totally at ease. Something of note, there is very little difference between the last few gears – call it overdrive if you like. You can literally paddle up and down 7-10 with barely a noticeable change – I assume these gears are mainly for the long stretches of the German bahn. The driving modes are changed on a dial beside the instrument cluster (not necessarily the most obvious of places to put it but once you know where it is…).
Twist up to Sports or Sports + and the engine note comes with you. Once there, the combination of the quicker more responsive driving modes and paddle shifting up; and even more importantly down, gives backfiring pops and highly aggressive, even ‘antisocial’ bellows from under the bonnet and out of the tailpipes – it’s awesome! While on the subject of sociability, having the LC500 parked on your driveway is quite the draw card. It invites door-knocking from the inquisitive and even the odd covetous glare from the shy curtain twitchers.
From a practicality point of view, I refer back to the fact that the LC500 is a GT. It has 2+2 seating and a near 153L boot space, not tiny but not something you’d take to the hardware store. Its functionality was always going to be a hard sell from the wife’s side (mind you, I did see her smile a few times when I opened up the baffles) but my 7-year old son hugged it like a long lost friend.
Even though the rain and the big storm that came along with it, did everything it could to dissuade me (hmmm; powerful front engine/rear wheel drive car in the wet), I ended up spending more time with the LC500 over the weekend than the family (wife) would have liked, and enjoyed every minute. I listened to her speak (the LC500), danced in the rain, and really got to know her. The LC500 is a car that likes to be driven and loves to go places with you. It’s sporty and luxurious and comfortable, even practical; for those long weekends away.
Although we didn’t do anything overtly fancy together, our 2nd date was far more engaging than our first encounter. Overall it confirmed my initial thoughts about what a great car this was, a GT of good looks AND substance – mind you Lexus, if you want to arrange a track time and fine hotel again, I’m sure neither of us would complain.
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