You hear a lot of stories about Ibiza. About what happens at the Spanish island’s famous all-night dance clubs, about what happens in the villas in the hills, about what happens at the beach late at night or early in the morning. You hear about people achieving ecstasy and falling in love — but you rarely hear about it in reference to a car.
And yet that’s exactly what happened last week, when I met the all-new Lexus LC 500.
I’ll be honest: I wasn’t expecting it to happen. Lexus may have great pedigree as a luxury automaker, but the Japanese brand has never been synonymous with sports cars. This car, a stunning new 2+2 coupe, is meant to be their new flagship — a head-turner of the kind they’ve never really had before. Mission accomplished.
The LC 500 first appeared as a concept at the 2012 Detroit auto show, where it won rave reviews, and the resulting street version looks almost exactly the same. The car sits low — as does the driver — and wide, prowling the road with a long, snarling front hood and high muscular tail lights. It’s meant to be a sports car, boasting a 5.0 litre-V8 engine capable of pumping out 467 horsepower, all funnelled through a seamless 10-speed automatic transmission.
Rev the engine and it sounds like a party. This is appropriate, as we’re in the party capital of the world — a sun-soaked island that most people never even see during the day. But for those who don’t give in to those tantalizing nocturnal impulses, Ibiza also has some of the best driving roads in Europe: breezy curves giving way to ocean views, then to exotic white-knuckle twists, then to un-policed straightaways and back again towards the ocean. Despite the automotive music and the backdrop, this is not a party car — not really. You may lust after the LC 500, but it’s good for more than just a one-night stand. And that’s what makes it so enticing.
This is a sports car you could — and will want to — drive every day. It is, above all other possible descriptors, comfortable. The ride is overwhelmingly refined — stiff but not overly rigid, even in the most finely tuned Sport Plus driving mode. You might even call it smooth, if that didn’t sound insulting to a two-seater. The interior borrows less from other sports cars and more from Lexus’s undisputed expertise in luxury sedans; the cabin is bathed in supple leather and suede, wrapping you like a hug as you lean into the car’s raw power.
It’s also remarkably quiet — a trademark of Lexus that carries through even to its most raucous offering. This is especially true of my favourite iteration, the LC 500h, a hybrid that pairs a 3.5-litre V6 engine with two eclectic motors and still manages to crank out a fully serviceable (that is: fun) 354 horsepower — a car that allows you the surreal experience of cruising at 150km/h (some things should probably stay in Ibiza) and hearing absolutely nothing. Lexus and parent company Toyota have always been innovators in the field of hybrid technology, but this version takes it to another level, shifting seamlessly between power sources — and gears — with truly impressive performance results.
After a few days driving around the coast, I wanted to take the LC 500 home with me. Which, let’s be honest, isn’t how most stories about passionate encounters in Ibiza end. I’m glad that’s how this one did.