It is an indisputable fact that Lexus is known for making some of the most reliable and luxurious cars in the industry, while undercutting the prices charged by its European rivals. Its class-leading LS400 luxury saloon from 1989 proved that Toyota, Lexus’ parent company, is more than capable of bringing the fight to the likes of Mercedes-Benz and BMW, and coming out on top. However, a characteristic that it is certainly not known for is exciting design and driving dynamics. For a long time, Lexus had always played it safe with conservative designs and comfort-biased ride quality across their lineup. All of that changed when it revealed the high performance IS-F in 2007, followed by the insane V10-powered LFA in 2010. And now, we finally have a grand tourer in the lineup - the LC500.
With a futuristic design that lifts heavily from the 2012 LF-LC concept, it is like no other car Lexus has ever made. The LC500 has a fluid-like silhouette that is so elegant and beautiful, it draws attention away even from more established heavyweights like Aston Martin and Jaguar. It also delivers in the performance department, thanks to its massive 2UR-GSE 5.0-liter V8 motor and rear-wheel-drive configuration, although it is more suited for long-distance motorway cruising.
This is clearly one of Lexus’ best efforts since the brand’s launch some 30 years ago. It brings about all the best aspects of the marque (and then some), while leaving out the less desirable ones. Let’s find out if Autoart has what it takes to bring its scaled representation of the LC500 to life.
From the get-go, you are greeted by the bold curves that define the Japanese grand tourer. The mix of almost-liquid metallic paintwork and chrome accents elevate this model to a whole new level of beauty. In terms of proportions, Autoart has simply nailed it, capturing the LC’s essence in its entirety. Not many model car manufacturers manage to bring their models to life with black paint, but this is a true exception. The metal flakes, along with perfect paint application throughout the whole car, gives it a lifelike and incredibly smooth look.
One major drawback to this breathtaking-looking car is definitely the overall material used - composite. It feels extremely fragile to the hand, and too light. It even creaks a bit when some pressure is applied. All of this makes for a somewhat unsatisfying first impression. Yes, composite has some advantages over diecast metal, such as smoother paint application and tighter shutlines, but the overall handling experience is diminished.
The signature Lexus spindle grille element, which has received polarising reactions, makes its appearance once again on the LC, and boy, does it look perfect for the grand tourer. Autoart’s recreation of it is equally impressive, with the intricately-cut and curved elements made out of actual metal. The various shades of paint and use of chrome trim on the grille all work well together. I loved the anodised finish on the lip, which gives it a truly upmarket look reminiscent of Apple computers.
The various light clusters look well-made too with zero visible stubs, and the same anodised metal-like paint surrounding them. The inner daytime running lights and vertical side lights blend into the main body seamlessly. What is most impressive about it is how close all of these 1:18 scale elements are to their 1:1 counterparts, despite the complex shapes.
Opening the bonnet, you are greeted by the refined V8 motor, a rare find among Japanese cars. It makes 471 horses and produces an absolutely sublime note. The engine bay is mostly monotone, except for some fluid reservoirs in white and the yellow-painted dipstick. The engine cover does a fine job in replicating the carbon fiber pattern, with a photo-etched Lexus badge in the middle. The plastic panels look quite realistic as well. Its bonnet is supported by metal hinges on the side and plastic telescopic struts slightly further in front. Operating it is a breeze, and the hinges can support the bonnet’s weight with ease. Overall, it is a fairly accurate representation of the actual LC500's engine bay.
Moving onto the side, you will see Michelin-branded tyres wrapped around the polished 10-spoke alloy wheels. The branding is a nice touch, and adds a sense of realism to the model. Even the tread pattern is the same as the Pilot Super Sport ZP rubber on the actual car. The wheels are also gorgeous, with a polished finish and blacked-out center that manages to avoid looking tacky. The metal brake discs look great too, complemented by black Lexus-branded calipers.
The interior greets you like a first-class lounge at the airport; oozing of luxury. Par for the course for a luxurious grand tourer. The tan-coloured interior is a lovely contrast to the predominantly dark exterior. Like the real life car, Autoart has added silver metal accents around to balance things out. The interior has clearly been crafted with love, as they are all correctly-proportioned, down to even the panoramic screen that takes up most of the dashboard. Like most other cars Autoart has made, the various small buttons & details around the cabin have been recreated with almost 100% accuracy. I especially like the photo-etched Lexus logo on the steering wheel. Something as simple as a steering wheel is so hard to recreate perfectly (in the model car industry), so this is definitely a welcomed sight.
If there is one gripe I have about its interior, it would be the hard plastic seats. I would have preferred for it to be genuine leather, like the ones found in Autoart’s older Mercedes-Benz CL-Class models. And if I were being nitpicky, I definitely would have liked for the model to have tilting seats, a feature already found in some of Autoart’s rivals.
This LC500 sports the optional carbon fiber roof, available in the Performance Package. It is flanked by large chrome panels that seamlessly blend to the rest of the bodywork. Correctly-scaled and looks incredible in the sun.
The smooth and elegant curves, as well as the overall stance, have been replicated faithfully by Autoart. I believe that the other colour options would accentuate them somewhat more effectively than this Obsidian Black shade.
The rear is quite beautifully done too, with the same anodised metal paint surrounding the tail lights. Even the chrome panels above them are present. The Lexus logo and LC500 scripture sit at the centre, correctly sized. At the bottom, a chrome trim stretches across the entire lip, and surrounds the almost-invisible quad exhaust pipes. The demisters on the rear window have also been replicated faithfully.
The model’s bootlid incorporates both metal hinges and plastic telescopic ones when opened, just like those found on the bonnet. The result is a sturdy and realistic mechanism that holds it firmly in place. The boot space, like all other Autoart models, is carpeted, but nothing out of the ordinary. One detail that I quite like is the load lip, which has ridges and even a simulated latch.
The active rear spoiler, which deploys automatically when the car exceeds 80km/h, is also available here. Of course, this being a model car, it will not be reaching that sort of speed (or any speed for that matter), but you can still deploy or retract it to your heart’s content. Due to the extremely tight shutlines and somewhat fragile nature of the spoiler, I recommend using a specialised tool to activate it without causing damage.
Does this model deserve a spot in your collection? Perhaps. The amount of details and effort put into this model is nothing short of impressive. The car itself is a visual and technical tour de force, displaying the very best that Lexus has to offer, and Autoart did an excellent job in replicating it down to the smallest of details. Whether you purchase it in black, red, or any of the other available colours, you simply cannot go wrong.
However, for a traditionalist like me, the fragile composite material greatly reduces the “play” factor, so the model will probably be relegated to the shelf most of the time. A bit more heft and sturdiness would have been appreciated, but alas, this is the direction Autoart is taking. The price is also in the low-mid SGD$200 range, which may be unacceptable to some collectors, considering the cheaper feel.
If you are willing to accept the flaws, then go ahead and purchase this LC500! The craftsmanship is still top-tier, and it is guaranteed to be a stunner in your collection.