Lexus raises the dynamic performance in the first evolution of its flagship coupe

Jun 24, 2020   Features

Lexus’ flagship coupe has always aimed to provide “even sharper, more refined” performance, ever since its original concept was designed.

Changes introduced for the 2021 model year deliver greater responsiveness, handling stability and agility, strengthening the driver’s feeling of being directly connected to the car and delivering an exhilarating driving experience.

To achieve its goals, Lexus has made changes to the LC’s suspension system, saving weight and improving ride and handling quality. Detailed adjustments have also been made to LC 500h’s Multi Stage Hybrid system and the LC 500’s 10-speed Direct Shift automatic transmission. The coupe’s steering has also been revised and the brakes have been tuned to communicate a better feel to the driver.

SUSPENSION: LESS WEIGHT, SMOOTHER PERFORMANCE

Changes to the LC’s front and rear suspension have reduced the car’s unsprung weight by around 10kg, thanks to the use of forged aluminium for the lower arms; thinner, hollow anti-roll bars; and a new high-strength material for the coil springs. The springs themselves have been made stronger (increasing in pressure from 1,200 MPa to 1,300 MPa).

The weight reduction contributes to the coupe’s dynamic performance, while further updates to the suspension to give a softer, smoother stroke add to the stronger feel the driver has of the car being firmly planted on the road. In the front suspension, the electronic shock absorbers have been reprogrammed for a longer stroke, while the rigidity of the bound stoppers (front and rear) has been optimised, giving overall smoother performance with less disturbance from fluctuations in the road surface.

By adjusting the roll rigidity of the anti-roll bars, Lexus has also improved the LC’s turn-in manoeuvrability, giving more linear response and again promoting a sense of unity between car and driver.

TRANSMISSION TUNED FOR A MORE REWARDING DRIVE

Lexus has used big data to improve the drive force characteristics of the LC 500’s 10-speed Direct Shift automatic transmission, to achieve even more faithful responses to the driver’s intentions. With more drive force generated as engine speed increases, the driver feels a real sense of powerful torque and continuous acceleration.

The focus was the “active zone” – the 50 to 70% throttle range that accounts for most driving – with the transmission allowing revs to rise higher before shifting into the next gear. The effect is enhanced by the rising note of the V8 engine.

The technical adjustments also yield smoother acceleration and allow for an automatic downshift to second gear (instead of third) when braking to take a corner. Similarly, shift performance has been improved for acceleration out of a corner.

IMPROVED HYBRID BATTERY PERFORMANCE

The revised LC 500h benefits from a new control in the high-voltage lithium-ion hybrid battery that increases its operating range and allows more torque to be developed by the electric motor. This helps provide more powerful acceleration, both when negotiating urban streets, or driving on winding roads. For example, even with moderate (30%) pressure on the accelerator pedal, there is 90 Nm more torque output and battery output rises up to 17 kW, while vehicle speed increases by an extra 4 km/h after 4.5 seconds.”

BRAKING AND STEERING

Lexus has adopted larger brake pads with a higher friction coefficient for the LC Coupe to gain more effective braking performance and stability at high temperatures and speeds. The system continues to use front and rear ventilated discs with opposed six-piston aluminium monobloc callipers at the front and four-piston units at the rear. The black callipers are decorated with the Lexus logo in white.

In a detailed touch, even the surface of the brake pedal has been revised to provide a larger contact area, giving a more natural feel for the driver.

The addition of extra reinforcements and bracing has increased the steering support rigidity, helping achieve better handling stability. The measures include reinforcement of the instrument panel and a higher-rigidity surface for the upper and lower steering support joints, plus changes to the bracing for the driver’s seat and cowl. Software updates for the Variable Gear Ratio Steering, Dynamic Rear Steering and the electric power steering have further sharpened responsiveness.

V8 SOUND QUALITY

The sound generated by the LC 500’s V8 powertrain is all part of the quality of the driving experience and Lexus has changed the location of the valve that determines the route of the exhaust gases in the main silencer to achieve the ideal note. This makes its presence felt at start-up and at high engine revs (from around 4,000 rpm), while performance is quiet when cruising.

 

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