When a Lexus, that isn’t the revered LFA, arrives at your door with a price tag of a cool R1.7-million, it’s somewhat difficult not to draw parallels with super sports cars of a similar price tag reports AutoTrader. After all, isn’t that what the consumer does? Weighing up the pros and cons. The Lexus LC500 is one of those that will get you thinking. Only a minuscule amount of people out there have that sort of money burning a hole in their pocket and would be able to frivolously spend it on a sports coupe.
So what does the Lexus LC500 go up against in the local market. R1.7mil will get you a lot of car if you’re not specifically looking for a coupe, but if that’s your bag, then you may be looking at the likes of the Porsche Carrera. In which case, it will be the GTS. The BMW M6 is a bit of a stretch, but the M4 is well within ‘budget’ before you spec it. One of the best value propositions happens to be the Mercedes-AMG GT, which goes for similar money. I’ve spent time with the GT and thoroughly enjoyed it, but when faced with the choice, how does it stack up?
This is the area where the Lexus excels, for some at least. It’s a polarizing design but there is no mistaking that it is striking. No other car (barre the C-HR from Lexus’ sister division, Toyota) is as similar to the concept car as the LC500. It genuinely does look like it has just rolled off of the display stand at a motor show. It’s pulled and pinched but as a whole, very well proportioned. It most definitely has a presence that is hard to ignore.
The AMG GT, on the other hand, comes across somewhat muted and conservative, despite the fact that nothing is further from the truth. Should you take it in a muted silver or a sanitary white, you’ll comfortable slip past the attention of many. As long as they can’t hear you.
Don’t get me wrong, the AMG is a beautiful creation, classic in fact; but for those who wish to stand out that extra little bit, it’s the LC500 that will do it for you. It’s more practical too.
This is where the two cars differ the most. The LC500 is a four-seater (and I use that term loosely) while the GT is a strict two-seater with no rear seats whatsoever. The boot on the GT is also a little small and shallow, especially when compared to the Lexus. The boot of the Lexus is positively cavernous, but then again, what would a Lexus be if you couldn’t stash a few sets of golf clubs in the rear?
The cabin of the Lexus comes across a little claustrophobic with its sombre tones and high-set dashboard. You sit extremely low in the car and the high transmission tunnel and angled instrumentation makes it extremely cosseting. The AMG fares somewhat better in this regard thanks to lighter trimmings and lower sills although the high transmission tunnel issues is one it shares with the Lexus.
Ergonomically, both cars are sound. I do tend to prefer the fit and feel of a Japanese-based driving position but the AMG GT fares well here once you’ve spent a few minutes behind the wheel.
Both are packed to the hilt with tech and both suffer at the hands of complicated infotainment systems with multiple levels of information and functionality, tucked away in Page 3 of one of the menus somewhere. The touch pad in the Lexus LC500 is particularly irritating to use, giving the AMG GT one up in this regard.
Here’s where the number come into play. The Lexus LC500 is powered by a 5.0-liter, naturally aspirated V8 that produces 351kW and 540Nm torque. The Mercedes-AMG GT coupe has a smaller, 4.0-liter V8 but has the benefit of two turbochargers. This sees the GT make 340kW and 600Nm. Swings and roundabouts then.
Off the line, the Lexus LC500 will do the 0 – 100km/h sprint in 4.7-seconds, according to Lexus literature while the AMG GT does it is a brisker 4.0-seconds. The GT has launch control whereas the Lexus has to try make do without. And this is a task, thanks to the 10-speed automatic gearbox. Yes, you read right; 10 gears…
The AMG GT has a more realistic 7-speed Speedshift DCT gearbox and is considerably more enjoyable to use, especially in its manual mode with the paddles behind the wheel. The LC50 has these paddles as well, but one gets the feeling that they are there merely for show.
Both cars power the rear wheels and both employ wide rubber to try tame the horses. 275-section tyres on the back of the Lexus and 295-section rubber at the rear of the AMG.
Full steam will see the Lexus top out at 270km/h while the Mercedes-AMG GT will clock 304km/h. The LC500 though certainly feels the slower of the two. It’s less eager to get going and seems to amble along rather than breaking out into a sprint that will excite you. It’s here where the AMG Gt is considerably more exciting – it has a sense of urgency that defies its weight and size.
The AMG GT is going to take this one I’m afraid. Its transaxle setup, mid-mount engine position and near perfect 50/50 weight distribution is immediately felt and enjoyed. The LC500 not so much so. While the Lexus does feel dynamic and well planted, there’s a lack of feedback that leads one to believe that it is better suited as a GT cruiser rather than a GT track toy. This is further
Both cars have astounding braking capabilities and are able to soak up undulation in the road extremely well. The Lexus is heavy though, and you can feel it. Tipping the scales at 1960kg makes the 1615kg of the AMG appear positively featherweight. As a result, the GT changes direction with better precision than that of the LC500.
Verdict: LC500 or GT?
I like both cars, for different reasons. However if I was to go for the Lexus I would no doubt feel short changed in the performance stakes. It’s the more practical option and one that garners attention, but in the real world and in the quest for value for money, I would have to go for the Mercedes-AMG GT. The kids can find their own way to school.