Sydney to Shoal Bay in an LC500

LEXUS says their flagship LC coupe is a GT car. They say it is quiet and comfortable in the true spirit of GT cars of old. They suggested we take it up the highway a bit, so we did.

The figures are huge, huge, huge, I tell you, huge!

First there’s the price: $190,000 plus onroads. That’s around 200 grand by the time you done the business with the blokes at the car yard.

Then there is the power.

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This masterpiece of an engine has 8 cylinders set at a jaunty angle. The go up and down very fast, and they make 351 powers, and 540 torques. There are 10 gears in the super slick automatic transmission. It’s a proper automatic too. None of that double clutch nonsense.

The weight? That’s a big number as well. The hefty lassie weighs in at 1970kg, 50kg more if you select the hybrid version. Both drive trains are the same price where once the hybrids came at a premium.

If you have a few extra shekels in your purse, you can opt for the Zinia Yellow on the car you see before you. If you’re fingers are still full of box-ticking friskiness, you can tick the Enhancement box, and that one is a right cracker.

For $15,000, yes that’s right, 15 grand, you get the a box of goodies. Although, do you think LC500 really needs enhancing?

The pack includes 4 wheel steering, a clever rear wing that deploys at speed, variable ratio steering, and a carbon fibre pack for the roof and door sills.

Then we get to some figures that are slightly more diminutive.

You get to 100 kph in a mere 4.7 seconds. Fuel usage for a high performance V8 is usually nothing to write home about, but LC500 promises just 8.2L/100k on the open road. It climbs to 17.6 around town and combined is 11.6L/100k. That’s not bad but would be considerably better if the big GT shed a few kilos.

197L of boot space is not particularly generous but is enough for 3 or for overnight bags. We threw a few things in the back seat as well. You need a few little comforts out on the highway.

We headed off just before morning tea time. Traffic was light. Well, light considering it was Sydney. The trip to port Stephens takes about 3 hours so we took a flask of coffee and some sandwiches to tide us over.

Once on the M1 heading north, the LC500 proved comfortable with its long legs, powerful engine and sporty-hip-hugging seats. The highway has long sweeping bends which the active lane guidance copes well with. It isn’t as assertive as some brands.

We set the cruise control and the LC500 did the rest.

We turned off the main road to head on to the Port Stephens link road, and this is where things went a bit pair-shaped.

There had been a strange “bump” coming from the boot as if something loose was banging against the inner wall.

We stopped for comfort breaks and on the first occasion the engine conked out after we restarted. It got as far as second geared and stopped. I restarted without incident. That’s very odd for a LEXUS. Lunch break was uneventful with a ham sandwich at a roadside café, and more coffee of course.

We stopped to stretch our legs about a half an hour later, and once again the LEXUS came over all moody. This time I recorded the message after the engine stopped mid gear-change.

I called LEXUS and told them their range-topper was being decidedly temperamental. The rest of the trip was uneventful and we rolled in to Shaol Bay, and the Ramada Resort. After checking in, I rang LEXUS to see what could be done. Clearly there was something amiss.

Next day I motored over to the local Toyota dealer who had never seen this LC500 before. They gave it a quick once over but couldn’t find anything wrong. They suggested I drive in to the LEXUS dealer at Newcastle, an hour away. So, I did.

They pulled the trim off to check electrical connections after the laptop told them there was a fistful of error messages, but all looked ok.

They decided to keep the patient in overnight and gave me a GS saloon as a loaner.

Things took a rather surprising turn when LEXUS told me the LC500 with 9,256km on the clock, had a ruined fuel pump and that a new one had to come from Japan. They sent me another LC500 to continue our journey, so all was well.

The new car was a sunny yellow whereas the white car was nearing on virginal.

The rest of the week was spent walking on the beach and touring local attractions. I parked the car on the bay-front outside the hotel just to see what reaction it got. A lot of people took pictures and asked questions. Some just commented, but all were positive. The reception staff even noticed us. Well, you could hardly miss something that loud (the car of course, not my better half).

The beach is great for an afternoon walk and the Shoal Bay Country Club is a nice place to perch afterwards. Food is excellent and can be eaten out on the terrace overlooking the water.

Fish and chis from Bob’s was great, and on the last night we ate at the Fishing Club. Try the platter for two with a crisp white wine.

On the last day, we checked out, loaded the car, and headed back to the city.

Once again, the LC500 was a big, comfortable, cruisy experience, albeit in a different car. We would easily have been able to travel near 1,000km on the 82L fuel tank.

Although a few days were overcast, and the first car had been un-cooperative, the break had been a joy.

LEXUS LC500 has a stiff chassis but variable suspension takes the edge off rock hard ride. One of the drive modes can be customised to the driver’s personal tastes.

Mostly, the LC500 is perfect. Even the dreadful infotainment user interface isn’t so bad after a while. CarPlay would fix most of the foibles, and LEXUS says that will be here soon. Older models may even have an upgrade option.

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