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2018 Lexus LC 500h : Green Grand Tourer?

2018 Lexus LC 500h : Green Grand Tourer?

Do you like being watched and looked at? Being in the 2018 Lexus LC 500h is kinda like being inside the cage at the zoo. People look and point at you along the way. It was a similar feeling to what we experienced driving around our HQ in West Palm Beach, FL.

But, honestly, we didn’t mind.

Because damn it, we were behind the wheels of one of the sexiest shapes to come out of the Lexus design shop in quite some  time. Available in a buyer’s choice of the Lexus LC 500, with a 5.0-liter naturally aspirated V8 engine, or, as in the case of our tester, as the LC 500h , which is a gas electric hybrid powered by a 3.5-Liter V6 gasoline engine add to electric motor generators that combined to produce 354 total horsepower. The hybrid has a top speed of 155 mph, clicks off naught to 60 mph in 4.7-seconds, and manages 26 miles per gallon city/ 35 miles per gallon highway with a combined total of 30 miles per gallon overall.

And before you go thinking of a Toyota Prius with its hybrid drive system, fuhgeddaboutit.

2018 Lexus LC 500h
2018 Lexus LC 500h

The Lexus LC 500h incorporates Lexus’s hybrid synergy drive which uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with the paddle shifters, coupled to a more traditional four-speed slush box which does it’s best to keep the 3.5-liter V6 running in the middle of its powerband’s sweet spot. We are not quite sure how they’re able to do it, but the gearbox is able to simulate the operation of actually being a 10-speed automatic transmission.

Perhaps the engine is a tiny bit thin when it comes to sheer grunt from the tailpipes, but maybe that’s why Lexus engineer chose to pipe some of that noise back into the cabin through an intake manifold baffle on the top of the engine.

The Lexus LC 500h rides on a multilink suspension that provides control by steering handled through an electrically assisted rack and pinion kit in front. An optional rear-steering system is part of the LC’s Performance package for a more-agile steering system. Lexus officials told us the car was more rigid than the LF-A supercar.

As for cross shopping, buyers will likely conside fellow green cars, the Acura NSX, BMW i8, and Porsche Panamera Hybrid.

Looks matter.

The spindle grille, while looking awkward on other Lexus models appears more comfortable here. Think of it as growing into one’s skin. As people reach a certain age they become more agreeable with their outer appearance. That’s the case here as the LC 500h  nose actually looks to belong.

2018 Lexus LC 500h
2018 Lexus LC 500h

From the side, it’s a hunkered-down look reminiscent of drawings done in school while we were supposed to be paying attention to math and science lessons. Long nose, short tail, and shoulders that could rival any cut-and-buffed athlete, it is a well-executed look at what a grand touring near-supercar should be. As an added bonus, the hood, fender and door panels are aluminum, while much of the rest of the car is composed of composite material.

Lexus LC 500h
Lexus LC 500h

Inside the LC 500h, are a few hits, and a couple of misses, too. Two well-crafted seats are there with a wide variety of adjustments. We loved the wide view of the high-definition TFT screens but wish they found another input device from which to control it. The Lexus touch pad is not amongst our favorites. And those rear seats? Don’t even think about sitting back there unless you have a chiropractor on speed dial. They are better suited to a duffle or camera bag, or even a bambino in a safety seat. But overall? As much as we like the rest of the interior with its tan finish, we can’t help but think that it is not as pretty as that found in the Dodge Viper before it made its exit from the automotive scene. That car’s Italian heritage shone through with a tan interior from a company that supplies Ferrari. The result? Sublime.

Behind the wheel.

Our drivetime in the LC500h was a tale of both the green and high-performance worlds. A tale of two cities, if you will. Driving around town found us making the most of the Multi Stage Hybrid system with two electric motors assisting the Aktinson-cycle six-cylinder engine.

Acceleration was potent with a slight electric whine that actually contributed to the overall effect, and that wasn’t a bad thing. The car uses a two-stage continuously variable transmission (CVT) that combines with an Aisin brand four-speed gearbox that actually allows the LC500h to stretch its legs more with greater (sports car) feel.

Handling on our test loop found a GT car that felt at home going right and left, and accelerating cleanly out of a turn, to boot. Despite its electric gimcrackery under the hood, we loved the sound and feel of the engine power unit as it pushed the envelope of hybrid performance. As gorgeous as it is, it is not a svelte young thing. We never were quite able to achieve the 30-mpg average that the EPA tells us to expect but we could easily live with the 27.5 mpg that we actually saw.

2018 Lexus LC 500h
2018 Lexus LC 500h

About the Lexus touchpad: We find it touchy, finicky and in some cases downright dangerous, what with everything else going on around and within, and dealing with other traffic. Some items were so buried in the menus that we actually needed to pull over to adjust them.

Still, this is a Grand Tourer that will accommodate a wide variety of driving styles. Available in extremely limited numbers, there is almost a guarantee that you will be the only one in your neighborhood, heck, in your region, who owns one. 

2018 Lexus LC500h

Story and Photos by Mark Elias

Base MSRP:  $96,510. As tested: $102,039.

Includes: Convenience Package, $1000; Heads Up display, $900; Premium Paint, $595; Touring Package, $1,790; Cargo Net, $249; Destination Fee: $995. 

Key Specs                                            LC 500h

Cylinders:                                            6 + two electric motors

Displacement:                                     3.5-liter

Power:                                                 354 hp (combined)

Torque:                                                256.7 @4,900 rpm

Fuel System:                                       Direct Injection

Fuel:                                                    Premium

Acceleration:                                       0-60mph in 4.7 seconds

Drive Type                                           RWD

Gearbox:                                             Multi-stage Hybrid

Tire Size:                                             245/45RF20, Rr: 275/40RF20

Unladen Weight:                                4,521-pounds

Length:                                                187.4-inches

Width:                                                 75.6-inches

Height:                                                53.0-inches

Wheelbase:                                         113.0-inches

Cargo Volume:                                   5.4-cubic feet

Cd:                                                       0.33

City:                                                     26

Highway:                                             35

Combined:                                           30

 

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”111″ gal_title=”2018 Lexus LC 500h”]

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2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport.

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport.

Hot hatches have always been our favorite type of vehicle, followed closely by what some call a Shooting Brake, but we call a Station Wagon. Yet it seems that the great unwashed prefer Crossovers and SUVs instead. But that hasn’t deterred Hyundai from introducing the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport.

Styled and benchmarked in Europe, the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT shares much of its design and DNA with the European Hyundai i30. Directly targeted towards the enthusiast crowd who also like the utility of a hatchback, it attempts to pick the best traits of the European ‘bahn burners. Hop in as we see if anything was lost in translation.

What’s New With The Elantra GT?

On the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT? Nearly everything. Taking cues from the i30, there is new design everywhere, starting with the Cascading Grille to the lower bumper air curtains that sweep air over the front wheels, to the rear spoiler and available LED taillights and dual exhaust system, this Hyundai is clearly no Corolla wanna-be.

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport
2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport

Two versions of the Elantra GT exist, depending on how deep your enthusiasm is rooted. The base Elantra GT is equipped with a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter Gas Direct Injection (GDI) four-cylinder engine that produces 161-horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque. The base model comes with a six-speed manual or an available six-speed electronic automatic transmission. It rides on a unibody-constructed chassis with MacPherson struts and coil springs in front and a torsion beam axle at the rear.

The high-line Elantra GT Sport that we drove steps things up a bit by swapping the larger engine out for a 1.6-liter turbocharged GDI powerplant that cranks out 201-horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. Power for the front driver comes from either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with on-demand Shiftronic manual shifting via the steering wheel-mounted paddle shift levers.

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport
2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport

And then things get even more interesting.

The 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport tosses the torsion beam back into the Hyundai parts bin. Instead, it opts for a full multilink independent rear suspension, higher performance front and rear springs, sport tuned dampers, 12-inch brake rotors in front and a 15mm stabilizer bar at the rear.

The pair of Elantra GTs are slated to do battle with the likes of stalwarts like the Mazda3, Volkswagen Golf, Honda Civic, Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla iM and Chevrolet Cruze.

Inside design.

The new interior of the Elantra GT Sport features a more contemporary view of things looking forward,

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport
2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport

and even goes slightly Mercedes-like through the use of an 8.0-inch pedestal mounted display screen. The telescoping steering column brings the tiller closer to the driver for ultimate control. Speaking of controls, they are easily reached and, we think, nicely accented by red stitching and brightwork around the cabin. An available Infinity Premium Audio System with Clari-fi music restoration software and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are all now part of the mix.

The rear seats are a tighter fit although if it is just you and a significant other, there are more than 55-cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded forward.

Safety

From a safety standpoint, the Elantra GT Sport doesn’t disappoint with available Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Smart Cruise Control, Automatic Emergency Braking and Lane Keep Assist. One day they might be included at no charge.

Behind the wheel

A majority of drivers will be content with the 2.0-liter four-banger for most applications. We’re not most drivers though, and sprang for the 1.6-liter Elantra GT Sport instead. While not head snapping, we did get off on having our heads bounce off the headrests while climbing through the gears of our DCT gearbox. The Sport GT did manage to keep noise at bay during most situations and on most road surfaces, while at the same time managing to let a few high-rev engine dBs penetrate the cabin.

The handling in the GT Sport is greatly improved over the standard torsion beam setup and practically invited us to thrash it through the sweeping curves found in the Low Country of suburban Charleston, SC. The steering was well-weighted and helped to make sense of the rather firm ride. That included the feeling of virtually every piece of ballast stone that makes up some of the older streets found in this legendary town. What’s ballast stone, you may ask? It was a stone carried in empty ships to help stabilize them when not carrying a load. When they would load up with goods such as tobacco or cotton, the ballast stones were removed, and piled at dockside. Eventually there were too many of the stones to go around so they started to pave the streets with them instead.

The front seats were nicely bolstered but as we have found with other Hyundai products, rather hard to the backside, especially if you have what is generally known as a boney ass. Still, at the end of the day, as the price of its competition has risen, the new 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport hits the sweet spot in hot hatchdom today.

Story and photos by Mark Elias

2017 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport

Base MSRP: $24,350 As tested: $25,235

Includes: Destination fee, $885.

Key Specs

Cylinders:                                    Inline four-cylinder

Displacement:                            2.0 GDI or 1.6 Turbo GDI

Power:                                         2.0: 161hp @ 6,200 rpm; 1.6: 201hp @ 6,000

Torque:                                       2.0: 150 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm; 1.6: 195 @ 1,500-4,500 rpm

Fuel System:                              Gas Direct Injection

Fuel:                                             Regular

Drive Type:                                FWD

Gearbox:                                     6-speed Manual or 7-speed dual clutch automatic

Unladen Weight:                      3,158-pounds

Length:                                       170.9-inches

Width:                                        70.7-inches

Height:                                       57.7-inches

Wheelbase:                               104.3-inches

Cargo Volume:                          55.1-cubic feet rear seat folded

City:                                                         26

Highway:                                                32

Combined:                                             28

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”43″ gal_title=”2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport”]