Pretty much from the first time I drove a Lexus LC, I fell in love with the car (and most of us on staff have similar feelings). And having spent a week recently in a 2022 LC 500h variant, I’m still as fond of it as ever. It is, in many ways, a near perfect grand tourer. It’s got stunning good looks (confirmed by various strangers asking about it) with details at home on a concept car. I’ll never get tired of the infinity mirror taillights. The interior does the same with leather and suede over nearly every surface and even more styling flair from the grooves in the doors to the floating handles. And finally, it’s lovely to drive. Even with the hybrid engine, it’s smooth and fairly swift, and the ride and handling are just on the sporty side of comfortable: great to commute in, and happy being pushed a little bit.
It’s a car that’s so good, that I found myself wondering, why aren’t there more of them? And I’m not just talking about LCs (even though the LC is so good it really deserves to be selling in massive numbers). Why aren’t there more personal luxury coupes and grand tourers?
It certainly wasn’t always that way. The mid-to late-20th century was the heyday of the luxury coupe. America led the way with enormous Cadillac and Lincoln hardtops with as much sheet metal on either end as it had in the middle. But later in the century, as more luxury automakers jumped in, we got more svelte GT-style cars from BMW (8 Series), Lexus (SC), Acura (Legend) and more. Classy two-door luxury was a thing. But now the number of high-end coupes are dwindling not just in sales, but in offerings. Mercedes killed its S-Class coupe a few years ago, and it’s been ages since we’ve seen anything of the sort from Cadillac, Lincoln and others.
Okay, so I literally know why they’re not much of a thing anymore, at least to an extent. Coupes just aren’t the popular body style. That crown goes to SUVs. Just look at BMW’s sales for proof. It sold around 1,400 8 Series models in the first quarter of this year, and that’s including convertibles, coupes and the Gran Coupe four-door hatchback. In contrast, it sold more than 6,400 X7s, the effective SUV equivalent to the 7 and 8 Series cars. And I have no doubt that there’s more going on than the desire for the big, truck-like shape. There’s also the practicality of having an SUV.
What I’m getting at is that, a luxury coupe seems like a much more luxurious and special machine for the money than one of those high-end SUVs or even flagship sedans. And while I wouldn’t expect it to overtake or replace those other segments, the coupe class seems like it should be a more popular one with more offerings.
The first big aspect is simply the looks. The LC is the leader, here, with everything we’ve already mentioned, but others are noteworthy, too. The 8 Series coupe has a more traditional shape, but still is low, long and sleek in a way BMWs with more doors try hard to emulate, but don’t quite match. The sadly discontinued S-Class coupe was less sporty looking, but that was in keeping with its personality, which was more about comfort and refinement. It’s clean curves and tall, stately shape communicated this beautifully, and with more character than the sedate sedan on which it was based. While all of these cars took slightly different paths for the luxury coupe shape, all of them are or were more striking than anything with more doors. And why wouldn’t you want something beautiful and eye-catching when you’re spending six figures on a car? There is something to be said for not having something obnoxious, which could be said of some supercars, but these are stylish without shouting about it.
The next aspect that’s so wonderful about these coupes is that it’s all about you as the driver, be it your fun and/or comfort. You’re not paying for anything that isn’t for you. And isn’t that what a luxury car is all about? Unless you have a chauffeur, why do you want a long-wheelbase sedan or big SUV to simply drive to work, the golf course or, um, art gallery opening? If you’re buying a luxury car, it should be about pampering yourself, not other people. Do your kids need 2 feet of legroom and reclining, massaging, temperature-controlled seats? Or are you really that concerned about that one time every six months you drive friends to dinner?
Even if the answer is “yes!” there’s an easy solution that’s probably already been taken care of: own another car that’s more practical. If you can afford a six-figure luxury car, you can surely afford to have something more practical in the garage, too. It doesn’t have to be another flagship if money is “tight.” You could have a BMW X5, Mercedes GLE, Volvo XC90 or any other of the many luxury SUVs on the market. And since you’re just using it for times when you need the space, does it matter if it’s not the absolute pinnacle of luxury, rather more a penultimate luxury car? And as for carrying stuff, you might not even really want to put some things in top-tier SUV. If you’re doing some yard work, you might be happier having something slightly less fancy for filling with mulch or tools. Or have you considered a luxury pickup, like a Sierra Denali Ultimate or F-150 King Ranch? Maybe you already have something more practical that your significant other drives. In that case, you definitely don’t need another hauler. And if that significant other also wants a cool coupe, well, fine. I think we’ve established that you’re probably in a position that you could afford multiple cars, so three doesn’t seem like a massive stretch. Heck, you could even just rent something more spacious on the odd days you need something.
What I’m getting at is that, high-end luxury coupes seem like the best kind of luxury vehicle. They can offer all the gadgetry, comfort and refinement of their more practical siblings, but in a package that’s far prettier and more focused on you. And when you’re just doing your usual commute or errands, why not choose something that makes all those moments more special with a beautiful, plush coupe? Spend the money on the special car you’ll drive the most, and just pick up something a little less extravagant for those times you need something with space. You have the money after all.