SUPER LOOKS BEATS SUPER CAR: In 2018 when the Lexus LC 500 2+2 sports coupe was unveiled it turned heads like anything out of Modena or Sant’ Agata di Bologna. Yet for 70% less cost it looked more exotic than the LFA super car flop that preceded it. The new LC coupe proved that a luxury car makers doesn’t have to do exotic to evoke exotic.
THE RIGHT ROOF: If anything was amiss at the initial launch of the LC coupe it was that a convertible version was MIA. This car was born to be a drop top. So the crow wowing concept ragtop demonstrated at the 2019 Chicago Auto Show this year comes to fruition as the 2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible.
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WHAT: 2021 Lexus LC 500 luxury grand touring convertible coupe, code name URZ100. The front engine rear drive layout TNGA-GAL platform blends carbon fiber with aluminum and steel, which also underpins the XF50 designated Lexus LS sedan (GF50/55).
Standard Power: longitudinal 5.0L DOHC 32V SPFI DI, Atkinson cycling, gasoline V-8, 2UR-GSE engine = 471 hp @7100 rpm, 398 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm + Aisin AWR10L65 10-speed torque converter helical transmission w/ steering wheel shift paddles
WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE: This is the Lexus first grand touring 2+2 since the Z40 Lexus SC 430. However with the predecessor exclusively available as a folding hardtop cabriolet the LC 500 Convertible is the brand’s first dance with a folding soft-top.
A sharply low sloping hood has two side valleys which flow over to the nose cinching and then expanding. It outlines the trademark chainmail spindle grille, though because of its far shorter height in the LC 500 cabrio, it’s vastly more appealing than in other Lexuses. From the inboard side, “L” swooshes feed outwards to the swept back LED lights. It ties to the darkened fangs and amber directionals in the folded corners to create a boomerang. The windshield is acutely raked. An upper door crease flows forwards into the fenders where wheel arches are immense enough to hold 21″ rollers. Creased lower side skirts trace the bottom of the convex fuselage, flaring outwards at the rear hips to feed another darkened brake duct. The door itself cants slightly upward aft.
The rear decklid slightly bowls, with scalloped edges. A subtly aero aiding integrated duckbill spoiler is along for the ride. The center bottom of the trunk lid flows over a powerful upper bumper cover where it is cinched. Wrap around thin brow rear LED lights form more boomerangs with the vertical corner amber directionals. Deep diagonal “L” creases, descend outwards to a pronounced quarter panel corner. They form an inverted “V” over the center lower bumper license plate panel. A split piano lower rear diffuser encases trapezoidal chrome exhaust dressings, with the back-up light in the upper portion.
With the power soft top up, frameless front and rear sail panel windows form meet the thick padded roof, with a decidedly short greenhouse framed by the flowing sloped curvature of the roof to the tidy powered decklid tonneau.
WHY: Impeccably artful open air grand tourer catches powerful Pacific gusts.
WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since Spring 2020
WHERE: Lexus new vehicle dealers
WHERE MADE: Motomachi Plant, Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, Japan (where the LF-A was assembled)
WHERE TO: +1 Torsen rear differential and staggered front to rear Michelin Pilot Sport tire widths imbue this two and a quarter ton street grand tourer with some track capability.
HOW ROADWORTHY: Depress the ignition button to experience the buttery burble of the Lexus twin cam gas V-8 which then settles into a precision hum. Bury the electronic throttle and the 10-speed manumatic will click down three notches and the secondary butterfly valves open sucking in a typhoon resonating with a baritone wail. Who cares about the lack of low end torque. Redline is at a near exotic 7100 rpm, with power never tapering off. It’s an easy 126 mph in 5th gear with another 1800 rpm to go. This powerplant is the reason why enthusiast have a love affair with naturally aspirated engines.
- -1 Toggle-style center console shift selector = finding neutral is unnerving upon entering the car wash conveyor
Exceptional rigidity resist any tendency towards cowl or body quiver, despite the LC 500 Convertible weighing only 100 pounds more than the rigid topped coupe. Yamaha supplies front and rear torsional dampers to resist untowardly suspension forces against the chassis. Squat and dive are reined in. Despite the heft, nearly even front to rear mass distribution, dampens tail out tendency making turn-in is predictable. Variable steering heft on the pleasantly light side is joined to duller surface response. Appropriately to such mass, massive big brake rotors clamped by multi-piston calipers are fitted, but reaction to pedal application is a little too genteel.
HOW FAR: 20 combined miles per gallon; 555 miles highway range with fuel fill-up
HOW BIG/ LITTLE: Earth to Lexus. Occupant capacity in the LC 500 drop-top is that of a roadster. The only area where there is more human torso generosity than a Mazda MX-5 Miata is in elbow room. A thickly padded soft top, though, doesn’t shave much from the hard top LC 500 coupe ceiling. While nicely adorned, the twin 2nd Row buckets are more honestly suited for the luggage that won’t fit in a teeny trunk. Another functional purpose eschewing rear occupant participation is the latching location for the removable folding wind foil. For those of small stature who are brave enough, the front seats tilt to motorize forward.
- LC 500 Convertible wheelbase = 113″-inches = 2.9″> Aston Martin DB-11 Volante: 1.9″ > BMW M850i Convertible, 2.9″ < Mercedes-Benz S560 Convertible
HOW USEFUL: √ Trunk space that of a small roadster; √ Cargo tie-down net; √ Over-sized front ceiling soft-hinged sunglass caddy; √ Large mouse-fur lined glove box; √ Center-stack covered smart phone bin; √ Sliding, then tilting back to open front center armrest bin; –1 Trunk not tall enough to swallow upright paper grocery bag and about a briefcases depth; -1 No trunk pass through; -1 Rear visibility through a slit of a backlight is akin to peeking through a peep hole;
HOW SAFE: √ 8 airbags; √ Bird’s Eye view Rear camera; sonar front & rear Park Distance Control, √ Blind spot, rear cross traffic & lane departure warning; √ Driver Attention alert; √ Auto parking brake hold; √ Auto high beam headlamps; √ Heads-Up display
Partial Autonomous Driving: √ Full adaptive cruise control, √ Lane Keep Assist, √ Forward Collision avoidance braking. -1 Lane keep assist overwhelmed by acute road bends;
HOW PEOPLE FRIENDLY:
The LC 500 is a sculptor’s wheel for artistry and high detail artisanry on wheels. Every panel is sumptuously upholstered and immaculately fitted. All switches are of exquisite surfaces and dials of precise machining. Like bombs bursting in air, flaring lines contrast stitch the semi-aniline leathers and illuminate the passenger’s side middle instrument panel. In a rather Latin driver oriented way, the LC launched the brand’s deep narrow leather covered single gauge binnacle with flanking twist knobs for traction control and drive modes. Japanese luxury blends modern and traditional in a light-handed manner which lends well to a sports car whose mission is coddling.
♦ Heated & cooled 23-way driver, 16-way front pax power seats, w/ 2-setting memory; ♦ 2 power windows, full up & down express; ♦ Puddle lamps at each door; ♦ 24″ inch color heads up display
Cool Gizmo(s): ♦ Power folding cloth convertible roof, heated glass backlight; ♦ Roof operates within 15 seconds at up to 31 mph; ♦ Power aluminum folded roof tonneau cover; ♦ Hinged covered power toggle and side window switches
Details Done Right: ♦ Serrated Brushed aluminum switches, ♦ carbon fiber appliques; ♦ Contrast stitched, semi-aniline leather seating; ♦ Heated power tilt & telescoping leather steering wheel w/ comfort exit; ♦ Contrast stitched leather dash top, gauge binnacle; ♦ Stainless steel door audio speaker covers;
Nearly Non-Descript: -1 tactily indistinguishable steering wheel spoke switches; Roof switch and window raising lacks one-touch automatic activation.
HOW “APP” -LICABLE: ♦ 12.3″ tri-pane touch LCD infotainment screen, ♦ Lexus Remote multimedia center console touch pad controller; ♦ Voice recognition command hands-free communications; ♦ 3-D SD GPS navigation; ♦ Lexus Enform 2.0 free apps including Doppler weather, real time HD traffic; ♦ Android Auto & Apple Car Play wired phone projection; ♦ Amazon Alexa, Siri assistance; ♦ USB x 2, 12V x 1; ♦ Qi inductive wireless device charging pad
By Subscription: ♦ Sirius XM radio (90 days complimentary); ♦ Lexus Connected Services, including remote start; ♦ LTE Wi-Fi by Verizon (4 GB complimentary)
Automotive Audiophile: 13 speaker, 950 Watt 7.1 DTS DSP HD radio 30GB jukebox Mark Levinson audio; Oh the unadulterated aural reproduction.
HOW MUCH: $109,965 = as tested 2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible
WHAT’S MISSING: Massage seating; rear view mirror wide angle video camera feed (available in Toyota SUVs)
ANY COMPETITION: Aston Martin DB-11 Volante: +1 panache, AMG Mercedes engine; BMW M850i Convertible: +1 means business style, a real trunk; Mercedes-Benz S560 Convertible: +1 autonomous driving tech, another real trunk.
FINAL WORD: The practical choice for luxury grand touring drop-top artistry.