The wait has been extremely long for the 2021 Lexus LC 500 Cabriolet. I’m a huge fan of the LC 500 Coupe and, like many, it was designed that way the first time I laid eyes on its concept – style in 2016. It’s a grand touring luxury that, even after several years of selling, still turns heads with its sleek design, futuristic trim and, of course, the aura benefits of the flagship LF-A supercar. from Lexus. Then there’s the naturally aspirated V8 engine, which gives it the raw power of a real muscle car. There is no replacement for displacement, after all.
In 2016, it could easily have passed for a concept car; that is, until you get behind the wheel and experience the driving dynamics yourself. Those who know the LC 500 is more than a pretty face. My lingering question was how Lexus’ hardtop styling would – or even could – translate into a sunroof, and what might get lost along the way.
The gorgeous interior is more than just plating, and the first thing you notice the moment you step into the LC 500 convertible is the comfort of the seats. All the right support in the right places, just like a Grand Tourer demands. The steering wheel and pedals are positioned correctly for long drives, and while the convertible doesn’t see as much lively driving as the coupe, this is where the envy comes.
“Ride comfort and overall mastery and control is what the Lexus driving signature means to us as it relates to the LC convertible buyer,” said Jessamine Merrill, general manager of Lexus products and consumer marketing. , during a conference call. I couldn’t agree more with Merrill, although my two and a half days with the car weren’t enough to put it to the test on a real road trip.
“We anticipate there will be some overlap with the coupe,” admits Merrill, “but we are really seeing the convertible carving out its own niche in the market.” After all, not all executives want to be driven in a luxury car. Some prefer to get behind the wheel and look good while doing it, and while that is undoubtedly true for the LC 500 Coupe, the sunroof makes it even more special.
With a convertible, the transition from inside to outside becomes blurry in a way that a coupe doesn’t have to deal with. “One of my favorite aspects of the vehicle is the sense of continuity from the inside to the outside,” said Merrill, and that’s definitely one of the reasons this roofless LC works so cleanly. After all, you can’t just hack the roof.
The transition from coupe to convertible is as smooth and elegant as it gets. Besides the electrically folding four-layer soft top – which opens in about 15 seconds, once you find the control under a panel in the center console – the LC 500 Convertible has a higher trunk thanks to a wider rear spoiler. . Up front, the Lexus rocket grille is right at home in the LC convertible. And even if the cargo space is affected – from 5.4 to 3.4 cubic feet – you don’t have to worry about the folded roof crushing what’s in there, as it’s separate from the trunk. As with the coupe, the tiny rear seats are best viewed as extra storage space.
As it turns out, while it has objected to the possibility of a soft top over the years, Lexus designed it from the start. The architecture of the LC was designed to accommodate both body styles, both aesthetically and – just as important – how things like the overall stiffness of the chassis had to live up to the particular demands of a convertible. Having had the opportunity to drive both the coupe and the convertible as a speed, I can attest that there are minimal differences in how they feel on the road.
The omission of the roof of course means that some changes were necessary in order to maintain the same level of structural rigidity as the hardtop model. With that in mind, Lexus gave the LC 500 convertible an all-new rear torsion box, along with a new V-brace and suspension tower brace. The structural reinforcements of the chassis were also moved, and then engineers reinforced the gusset near the bottom of the A and B pillars to improve handling stability and stiffness.
There is a new set of shocks, coil springs, and a recalibrated variable suspension system; the latter offers up to 650 different levels of damping force. While this may sound like a stretch, it is not.
For starters, the addition of a power folding top means weight reduction elsewhere is in order. That’s why the convertible model receives aluminum suspension components, which helps to reduce unsprung weight. Keep in mind that we are talking about grand touring and not about a track-oriented sports car, but weight reduction measures are certainly welcome given that the LC 500 coupe tips the scales at around 4,300. books.
The convertible also receives a lighter set of 20-inch cast alloy rims, but 20- and 21-inch forged rollers remain optional. You don’t get a spare tire in the LC Convertible, but with standard run-flat tires. It allows engineers to shorten the rear overhang while further reducing weight. In addition, the soft top is made of lightweight aluminum and magnesium components.
Even with all this engineering, you’re still looking for around 200 pounds more than the coupe, and you probably shouldn’t expect the LC 500 convertible to be a Porsche 911 or a BMW M8. In Lexus’s defense, it never was. “Honestly, we don’t necessarily compare the competitors on their own, as if we want to copy or look like them,” said Joel Fukumoto, consultant product manager at Lexus Product Planning. “There are cars that we try to learn about things we think we like about them and things we think we don’t like.”
At a time when I feel like there are more GT options than ever before, I can’t help but respect that desire to intentionally stand out. What I like even more is the naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 engine. Dumping 471 horsepower and 398 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels via a 10-speed automatic, the LC 500 looks a bit like a sleeper muscle car.
From top to bottom, it only takes a few moments to realize how well this combination of V8 and open-air driving works. The motor lets out an addicting, moaning howl as the needle climbs the turn scale. It’s not as glaring or as symphonic as the LF-A’s Yamaha V10 engine, if you’ve ever been lucky enough to be within earshot, but it’s close. Everything you hear is pure and authentically channeled into the cabin for your listening pleasure.
As a reminder, the LC 500 is not a purebred sports car, but the precise and elegant handling may make you suspect otherwise. On a longer ride, however, the steering is also tighter for comfort, balancing effort with the precision demanded for point-to-point driving. As grand touring combining the power of the V8 with genuine pleasure and luxury – and the style to go with it – the LC 500 convertible actually has a distinct advantage over the Porsche 911, the BMW 8 Series, and yes, maybe. be the new Corvette C8 too.
Sitting in the driver’s seat, it won’t take long for the luxury and performance features to permeate. The LC 500 is no slouch, even though it weighs more than a midsize crossover. The coupe has little trouble getting through 60 mph from a standstill in 4.7 seconds; the chopper performs the act in less than five seconds. It goes without saying that the cabin of the LC 500 is one of the best places to spend time, except in a Rolls Royce or Bentley.
Figure on impeccable craftsmanship and high-end materials. Granted, I’m no fan of the touchpad – and yes, it’s still there, controlling Lexus’ clunky and unappreciated infotainment system – but everything else is what you’d expect, or more, from a car. at $ 101,000.
Premium features abound, including the Lexus Climate Concierge system that automatically manages air conditioning as well as seat, neck and steering wheel heaters whether the roof is up or down. Active noise control keeps wind noise and the harshness of the road out of the cabin, while a high-resolution 10.3-inch infotainment display includes a voice-activated navigation system.
Advanced security is also part of a long list of standard features. Every 2021 Lexus LC Cabriolet is equipped with the Lexus Safety System (LSS ), which includes pre-collision braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, dynamic radar cruise control , blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and smart high beams. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Alexa integration, along with LED headlights and 4G LTE connectivity are also standard.
The 2021 Lexus LC 500, whether it comes in coupe or convertible form, crosses the fine line between a true sports car and a large touring machine. It’s a balance that can be achieved in many ways by many automakers, but you can’t help but be swayed by how this droptop LC appeals to the senses. Few sacrifices compared to the coupe, but with even more potential to turn heads, it may have involved a wait, but the LC 500 convertible turned out to be worth it.