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INSPIRED BY LEXUS

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The Lexus LC 500 needs no formal introduction. It greets all encounters with a growl from its powerful 471-horsepower (346 kW) naturally aspirated V8 engine. Its artfully chiselled lines and refined curvature marry luxury and performance in a way that only Lexus can. The new 2021 LC 500 Inspiration Series takes the grand-touring coupé to the next level with an aviation-inspired design that will land in dealerships later this winter.

The new LC 500 Inspiration Series, the fifth on the LC platform, takes its cue from a partnership between air race pilot Yoshihide Muroya and Lexus engineers. The Lexus team created efficiencies for Muroya’s aircraft for everything from the control column’s grip design to maximising its aerodynamics using testing data learned on Lexus automobiles. The partnership ultimately assisted Muroya on his path to winning the 2017 Red Bull Air Race World Championships.

Aided by some of the same engineers who built the Lexus LFA supercar, Lexus took a unique approach to Muroya’s aeroplane’s aerodynamics by turning a preconceived concept on its head – literally. They found that taking an aeroplane wing and flipping it upside down created vortices that improved manoeuvrability and efficiency at the wingtips. After the team proved their theory on Muroya’s aircraft through testing and competition success, the Lexus team then aimed to employ that knowledge onto the LC by creating an automotive wing prototype built from aluminium. The team knew the final version, which would span nearly six feet in width, would need to be light, durable and warp-resistant. Carbon-fibre, the same material employed on Muroya’s aircraft, seemed like the appropriate material. Yet creating a carbon-fibre wing that large, much of which would have to be done by hand, would be a great challenge – but it’s one the engineers took head-on.

LIMITED ENGAGEMENT

The 2021 LC 500 Inspiration Series certainly has an interesting backstory, but its aerial inspiration is only part of the narrative. With only 100 units available, the latest Inspiration Series is a limited edition of the highest order.

Standing apart from the standard LC 500, a superb vehicle in its own right, the 2021 Inspiration Series boasts a combination of features not found on any other LC package. The limited-edition vehicle is offered in one exterior colour, the superbly dark Obsidian, paired with bold and beautiful 21” black forged-alloy wheels that fill out the wheel wells. An eye-catching carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) roof is standard, and it proves to be the perfect complement to the carbon-fibre rear wing spoiler.

The LC 500 Inspiration Series also gains some additional enhancements in driving performance thanks to its Torsen limited-slip differential. The high-capacity torque-sensing limited-slip rear differential efficiently distributes engine power to the rear axle, optimising traction, handling, and control in various conditions. The standard Yamaha rear performance rod with damper, an available option on other LC models, provides added rigidity to the suspension package.

Stepping inside, the serialised badge on the centre console immediately identifies the vehicle’s limited nature and its sequence in the 100 produced. The cabin is adorned with black Alcantara-trimmed sport seats that feature elegant Saddle Tan accents and seat belts. The steering wheel and shift lever are also accented in black Alcantara trim. A carbon-fibre scuff plate accents the door, and once inside, driver and passengers can bask in the sound of the standard Mark Levinson 13-speaker 915-watt Reference Surround Sound Audio system.

The LC Inspiration Series also comes standard with a large colour Head-Up Display (HUD) that projects a range of information onto the bottom of the windshield glass. Relevant information can be shown to the driver (such as road speed; gear; engine speed; turn-by-turn directions; Dynamic Radar Cruise Control status; Pre-Collision System; Lane Keep Assist/Lane Departure Alert; master warning indicator; information icons, and clearance sonar) without taking their focus from the road.

Standard on the Inspiration Series is the SmartAccess Card Key, which operates all of the same SmartAccess systems as a key fob without the manual button operation. Users can place the card key on their person and use the SmartAccess system to unlock/lock the doors by grasping the outside door handle and start the vehicle once inside. Each SmartAccess Card Key also comes equipped with a backup mechanical key to unlock the doors if the battery is depleted.

KEY EVOLUTIONS FOR 2021

The LC 500 Inspiration Series benefits from the same updates to the standard LC 500 for 2021. Lexus engineers were able to trim 10 kg of unsprung weight from the vehicle, which is highlighted by the use of aluminium lower suspension arms, lighter suspension stabilisers with a hollow design and revised diameter, new high-strength coil spring material, and lighter 21” rear wheels.

With unsprung weight reduced, the LC’s suspension was refined to provide a smoother, softer stroke for an enhanced connection to the road. This was accomplished with adjustments to the front suspension’s electronic absorber controls to increase the length of the stroke. Engineers then optimised the bound stopper rigidity to help create a smoother overall suspension stroke. Rear stabiliser rigidity was enhanced to aid front turn-in ability to provide more linear steering input.

Vehicle control at mid- to high-speed ranges is enhanced thanks to the 2021 LC’s Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system gaining Active Cornering Assist (ACA). 

HIGH PERFORMANCE

Upon start-up, thundering through the variable Active Exhaust, the 5.0-litre naturally aspirated V8 issues a full-throated engine note as a call to driving enthusiasts. The LC 500 has an output of 346 kW and 540 Nm of peak torque and can deliver a zero to 100 km/h sprint time of 4.4 seconds.

Other key enhancements for the 2021 model were made to the ten-speed automatic Direct-Shift transmission on the V8-powered LC 500, as the shift logic was updated to help provide improvement for daily driving in what engineers refer to as the “active zone” – the area where most drivers find themselves in the 50-70% throttle range. The Direct-Shift transmission allows engine RPM to expand in this range to accentuate the feeling of acceleration before shifting into the next gear.

LEXUS ENFORM FOR SAFETY AND CONVENIENCE

Lexus Enform Safety Connect comes with a three-year trial with access to Lexus Enform response centres 24/7/365. With Lexus Enform Service Connect, complimentary for the first ten years, the vehicle can send alerts for specific factory recommended maintenance, simultaneously alerting a preferred Lexus dealer. The Lexus App can be used to set push-reminders and alerts for maintenance and service issues. The Lexus Enform Remote (three-year trial subscription included) mobile app lets you lock and unlock doors, start the engine and climate controls, check the fuel level, and more – all through your smartphone or smartwatch.

LAST WORD

Lexus Safety System+ comes standard on the 2021 LC 500. Lexus Safety System+ features Lane Departure Alert with Lane Keep Assist. Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection is standard and includes Frontal Collision Warning (FCW), Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) and Pedestrian Detection. All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control is also included, as is Intelligent High Beam activation.

Intuitive Parking Assist comes standard on the LC Inspiration Series. It uses sonar sensors in the front and rear bumpers to detect obstacles in the vehicle’s path during low-speed manoeuvring. The system gives an audible alert, and the Multi-Information Display (MID) shows the position and distance to the obstacle.

Report by BERNIE HELLBERG JR | Images © LEXUS

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