While the vast majority of press coverage is taken by the V8-powered Lexus LC, there’s also the hybrid version that deserves some attention.
The Lexus LC500h is powered by the company’s so-called Multi Stage Hybrid System which was developed specifically for the needs of their flagship coupe. A 3.5-liter V6 engine that runs on the Atkinson cycle is still combined with two electric motors but the petrol unit gets lightweight valvetrain components and Dual VVT-i while the transmission is a whole new deal.
The system retains the planetary-type CVT known from other Lexus hybrids but the company has added a second four-speed automatic transmission that works in concert with the CVT.
The two gearsets alter output in four stages in order to better utilize the power of the V6 across the speed range. When in manual, the two transmissions provide the effect of 10 ratios for a more engaging feel through the paddles on the steering wheel while in automatic mode Lexus’ AI shift control finds out and selects the gear that suits the driving conditions and driver inputs.
Lexus claims that the combined system output of 354hp isn’t indicative of the LC500h’s performance potential as the addition of the four-speed automatic amplifies the combined power coming from the engine and electric motors, creating greater drive power under acceleration. It also says that the Multi Stage Hybrid System now allows for greater electric assist on lower speeds, enabling the LC500h to drive with its gasoline engine turned off up to speeds of 87mph.
Sounds too complicated? Well, take a look at the video below showing an LC500h sprinting to 260km/h (160mph) from stop and maybe you’ll get a better idea of how the whole thing works. We’re still trying to figure it out too.