It’s certainly true that anyone with the means to buy a premium sports car isn’t going to fret too much about the cost of fuel, but most people care about the environment nowadays and that’s where products like the Lexus LC 500h come in.

The LC 500h is a hybrid and like all conventional hybrids, uses an internal combustion engine combined with electric motor power and associated batteries. The batteries are charged on a continual basis during normal driving. Toyota and its Lexus luxury division are world leaders in hybrid vehicles and have been almost from the introduction of this technology.

There have been several supercars of semi-hybrid design, mostly using an electric motor boost to enhance horsepower and offer nominal fuel savings. The Lexus 500h is a ‘proper’ hybrid using well-tried synchronous technology to maximise both performance and fuel economy. Toyota has stated that it believes hybrid powertrains are an interim step towards hydrogen fuel cell technology and has chosen not to go the EV path followed by many carmakers.

The LC 500h may be an ‘economy sports car’ as far as fuel consumption goes, but the Lexus designers have come up with a stunning design that just about everybody seems to love. Buy one of these and you’ll get as many admiring comments as you would with an Italian exotic. The sculpturing of the bodywork is especially worthy of praise and there’s not a straight line anywhere. The design is very efficient from an aerodynamic standpoint and this also contributes towards fuel economy and lower emissions. The front and rear lighting make for a dramatic view of the car from either direction.

The LC 500h uses a 3.5-litre V-6 backed up by two electric motors with a lithium-ion battery pack. Dubbed the Lexus Multi Stage Hybrid System, the combination of V-6, electric motors and batteries produces 354-horsepower. As with other hybrid vehicles, the driver enjoys extra torque from the electric motors. Unlike conventional engines, electric motors develop peak power almost instantly and the driver enjoys a great feeling of lively response when taking off from a standing start. The 10-speed transmission is a melding of two gearbox technologies and features conventional gear ratios combined with a continuously variable (CVT) system.

Handling was developed to maximise the full capabilities of the engine and motors and is very predictable and stable. The LC models have a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout. Buyers not wishing to go the hybrid route can get this Lexus with a 5.0-litre V-8, also with a 10-speed transmission.

Get behind the wheel of this impressive grand tourer and you’ll soon grasp that Lexus intended the driver to feel very much part of the car. The seats are super-grippy and supportive and there’s a great feeling of security, even when a corner is taken very fast. Lexus does a great job with seating and even on a very long run, you still feel comfortable and relaxed. Adding to the fun is a Mark Levinson 13-speaker sound system that was specifically tuned to the interior of the LC.

One big bonus with buying any Lexus is the creditable reputation the maker has for quality, durability, longevity and good resale value. This is a GT that nobody should worry about on a long cross-Europe drive – not something that can be said about every upscale sports car. There are few better ways of making a ‘green’ statement while sacrificing nothing in terms of sheer performance and downright driving enjoyment. That alone is a good reason for buying this outstanding Lexus. Looking around the industry it seems that almost all sports car builders are working on hybrid or EV designs and most of them will regard the LC 500h as something of a benchmark.

ENGINE: 3.5-litre V-6 plus electric motors, 354-horsepower combined.

TRANSMISSION: 10-speed automatic with shift paddles.

ACCELERATION: Zero to 100 km/h 4.5-seconds. TOP SPEED: 270 km/h.

I LIKED: Superb styling with numerous attractive design cues. Thrilling performance with lots of torque from the hybrid drivetrain. Great seating and driving position.

I DIDN’T LIKE: As with just about all grand tourers, interior stowage space is limited.

MARKET ALTERNATIVES: Almost no direct competition right now, but many alternative drivetrain GTs are under development.

WHO DRIVES ONE? Sports car lovers who want to make a statement about environmental concerns while not giving up on style and performance. GT owners who’ve had reliability problems with other makes on long runs.

PRICE AND AVAILABILITY: Available now. LCs start at €120.000.