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Think of a Lexus, and various adjectives inevitably spring to mind. Luxurious. Reliable. Well-engineered. Refined… But beautiful?
Never before, yet now you can add it to the list. Because this is the Lexus that thinks it’s an Aston Martin.
Actually, to my eyes it’s even prettier (and more discreet) than much of the modern Gaydon output.
If that sounds like an exaggeration, then you really need to seek one out because – with apologies to our supremely talented snapper Mr Bradshaw – I have yet to see a photograph that accurately conveys the gorgeousness of this car in the metal.
Look hard enough and you’ll find a few fussy details, not least the rather bling chrome wheels, but the overall effect of Lexus’ angular design language applied to its perfect proportions is pretty jaw-dropping.
For all its futuristic looks, however, this is a GT in the classic mould, with a decent boot, a pair of usable – if snug – rear chairs and every conceivable luxury up front.
Also up front is one of the last of a dying breed: a naturally aspirated V8 – in this case employing quad cams and 32 variably controlled valves to push out 457bhp at a screaming 7100rpm.
It might feel a bit flat low down if you’re used to the instant torque of modern turbo units, but from 4000rpm it really flies, with a deliciously cultured V8 growl.
A 10-speed auto keeps the V8 on the boil, and as you flip down from top on the motorway in search of meaningful acceleration you realise that it also answers the question of ‘how many gears is too many?’ – but then it is geared for limits rather higher than ours.
The interior is, if we’re honest, a bit busy, with a variety of textures and colours, and has one of the most frustrating ‘intelligent’ control systems for its various functions we’ve encountered.
That aside, the core controls are lovely to interact with, both beautifully finished and well weighted.
Playing with the suspension settings reveals that ‘Sport+’ is a bit too aggressive for the road, but ‘Sport’ offers a good mix of suppleness and body control.
Once you get used to the size, it’s a car that can cover ground across country very rapidly indeed, with plenty of grip yet enough power to unstick the 275/35 rear tyres if you’re careless, particularly on a bumpy road.
So: beautiful, fast and relatively practical, with a sonorous and sensational engine.
But there is a bit of a problem, the price. Because knocking on £100k is a lot to pay for a Lexus, even a very pretty one.
That said, while mint early examples of the original LS400 are finally starting to be recognised for their classic status, in general the fate of the old Lexus has traditionally been that of a bargain banger.
If the LC500 goes the same way, I’ll be waiting with wallet at the ready.
Images: John Bradshaw