The new Lexus LC500h announced this week is the first car to use Lexus’ next-generation hybrid petrol-electric drivetrain, the technology inside which will flow on to future Lexus cars in the future. The LC500h is the first luxury car with a 10-speed automatic transmission, but it’s the fact that Lexus is using a gearbox on the electric motor as well that’s really interesting.
Lexus’ Multi Stage Hybrid System is the new technology on show, pairing a Lexus-developed 220kW 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine with a 44kW electric motor and lithium ion battery pack and delivering drive to the hybrid LC500h’s rear wheels — just like the 5.0-litre V8 Lexus LC500 introduced at the Detroit Motor Show in January. The new tech also allows for Lexus to implement the world’s first manually-activated gearshifts on a true series-hybrid car, with paddles on the steering wheel for drivers to tap away at.
The electric motor itself will have a four-speed gearbox attached to the rear and linking in with the rest of the drivetrain, with gearing that will allow the motor to use the most torque possible whether the LC500h is moving off from a standstill or accelerating even at high speeds. This is one of the first applications of a multi-geared electric motor in any road-going car, let alone a luxury car like a Lexus.
The LC500h boasts 0-100km/h times “well into the sub-five second range” according to Lexus, despite its hulking size and presence; the hybrid gear means it can keep up with the V8s and turbocharged six-cylinder engines in Lexus’ performance competitors. Because the new system is more compact and lightweight, the 10-speed ‘box, electric motor and battery weigh no more than Lexus’ existing non-geared hybrid electric setup.
The rest of the LC500h is flush with tech, too – daytime running lamps, triple-LED headlights, and an active rear spoiler; it also features the first instance of Lexus’s 2017 in-car entertainment system, with a more friendly user interface and more flexible software that will better suit the different models it’s used in. A Pioneer speaker system will be standard on the LC500h, but as usual Lexus also has a massively overpowered high-end Mark Levinson speaker setup as an option. [Lexus]