Lexus has officially unveiled the LC 500h, the latest addition to the brand’s LC flagship coupe line first unwrapped at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last month.
The new LC 500h features the world’s first Multi Stage Hybrid System, the next generation of hybrid powertrains specifically designed for performance vehicles. Under the bonnet packs a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine and an electric motor, which gets its power from a lithium-ion battery pack located above the rear axle.
The system produces a total power output of 264kW, which are channeled to the rear wheels via a combination of 4-speed automatic gearbox and continuously variable transmission. The new 4-speed auto-CVT partnership, a first for a Lexus hybrid, is able to multiply each of the first three physical gears in the automatic transmission three times – turning three real ratios into nine virtual ones; the fourth physical ratio acts as an overdrive, enabling the V6 to spin at a much lower rpm when cruising.
In essence, the additional automatic gearbox works in combination with the CVT to deliver 10 specific gear ratios, just like the 10-speed auto in the non-hybrid LC 500. Chief Engineer Koji Sato is quoted in saying “the difference between the real gears and the virtual ones is barely perceptible”. The new drivetrain is also capable of breaking traction, so for the first time you’ll be able to smoke the rear tyres of a Lexus hybrid.
According to Lexus, the electric motor generates better acceleration feel than a conventional engine, and adding physical gears more closely aligns engine rpm with the driver’s inputs. The result is a much more direct connection between the accelerator pedal and vehicle acceleration, and 0-100 km/h times of under 5 seconds.
The Lexus Multi Stage Hybrid System also features ‘M’ Mode—the first driver-initiated gear shifts offered on a Lexus full hybrid powertrain. ‘M’ Mode gives drivers the ability to initiate direct and responsive gear shifts for the most sporting and engaging drive yet from a Lexus hybrid. The new lightweight and compact electric motor and a lithium-ion battery offset the weight of the added automatic transmission, and so the Multi Stage Hybrid System weighs the same as the current hybrid powertrain – claimed Lexus.
The new LC 500h is fitted, as standard, with the Lexus Safety System +, a newly developed portfolio of active safety technologies designed to help prevent or mitigate collisions across a wide range of traffic situations.
Combining a camera and millimetre-wave radar for a high level of detection performance, the Lexus Safety System+ features a Pre-Crash Safety (PCS) system with a pedestrian detection function, which helps prevent or mitigate the severity of collisions, All-speed Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane-Keeping Assist (LKA), and Automatic High Beam (AHB) headlamp technology.
The new Lexus LC 500h will premiere at the Geneva Motor Show next month.
Lexus LC 500h specifications
- Overall Length: 4,760 mm (187.4 in)
- Overall Width: 1,920 mm (75.6 in)
- Overall Height: 1,345 mm (52.9 in)
- Wheelbase: 2,870 mm (112.9 in)
- Layout: Front Engine Rear Wheel drive
- Fr/Rr overhang: Fr: 920 mm (36.2 in), Rr: 970mm (36.2 in)
- Wheel Size:
- 21 inches (forged aluminium-available)
- 20 inches (forged aluminium-available)
- 20 inches (cast aluminium-standard)
- Tyre Size:
- Fr:245/40 RF21, Rr: 275/35 RF21
- Fr:245/45 RF20, Rr: 275/40 RF20
- Fr:245/45 RF20, Rr: 275/40 RF20
- Engine type: 3.45L hybrid engine
- Engine capacity (cc): 3,456
- Valve mechanism: 24-Valve DOHC VVT-i
- Cylinders: 6
- Bore (mm): 94
- Stroke (mm):83
- Engine Maximum output (kW): 220@6,600
- Engine Maximum torque (Nm): 348@4,900
- Battery Maximum output (kW): 44.6
- Battery type: Lithium
- Battery voltage (V): 310
- Battery weight (Kg): 50
- Total System Output (kW/HP): 264/354
- Target 0-100 km/h (sec.): sub 5 sec.