Weekend Wheels: The Lexus LC 500 Convertible combines beauty and brawn
Five minutes ensconced behind the perforated leather helm of Lexus’ sublime new 2021 LC 500 Convertible leaves no doubt that you’re in the company of a grand tourer of the highest order.
Here’s the perfect two-seat, drop-top cruiser for gliding down Pacific Coast Highway to Big Sur or ambling along A1A to The Keys, that buttery-smooth V-8 whispering in the background, long-travel suspension hoovering up every tarmacadam imperfection.
Just sit back, soak up the sun, feel those zephyrs of breeze swirling around the cockpit. Maybe stream your favorite playlist on the booming Mark Levinson sound system while you take in the scenery. Life in an LC 500 Convertible is certainly good.
So, Dr. Jekyll, would you like to say a quick hello to Mr. Hyde?
All it takes is a twist of a dashtop knob to dial-up Sport+, a couple of pull-backs on the magnesium paddle shifters and a stomp on the aluminum right pedal for the big V-8 to rip, roar and unleash every one of its 471 horses.
Revs soar, tailpipes go from reticent to full riot, and this hip-high projectile lunges toward the horizon, covering the zero-to-60 dash in just 4.6 seconds.
Anyone thinking the LC 500 might have gone soft in its transformation from brawny, big-biceped coupe to cosseting open-top convertible, anyone with memories of its flaccid SC 430 predecessor, should think again.
Lexus has truly done a superb job in lopping the top off the elegant LC Coupe. Convertibles are typically runners-up in the beauty department compared to their hardtop siblings. Not so the LC.
Top up or top down, it’s simply gorgeous. The lack of a roof accentuates the car’s mile-long hood, its raked-back screen and short, muscular rear. Bolting on a set of optional 21-inch forged rims, like our test car’s, only heightens the visual drama.
And 15 seconds is all it takes for the four-layer canvas roof to lift, fold and disappear into a well behind the seats, and at speeds up to 31 mph. This is mechanical ballet at its finest.
Only the top’s slightly clunky, herky-jerky action and the ugly display of wires and plastic brackets beneath the tonneau, seen in the rear-view mirror when it’s in mid-fold, detract from the elegance of the movement.
The other success story with this LC Convertible is its key lack of wind buffeting for those inside.
With all four windows raised — conveniently enacted by a single switch — and with the help of a seemingly under-sized yet effective clear plastic screen between the rear seats, the interior stays remarkable calm and unruffled, even at close to triple-digit velocities.
While all the extra bracing and added weight of those top-raising hydraulic pumps has piled on around 217 extra pounds to the Convertible’s waistline, you’d never know.
The 5.0-liter normally-aspirated, direct-injection V-8 is still a masterpiece of power and refinement, and works in true concert with the smooth-shifting, super-intuitive 10-speed automatic.
And the choice of six driving modes — Eco, Comfort, Normal, Custom, Sport and Sport+ — are there to perfectly suit your driving mood.
Those eager Sport and Sport+ settings will also adjust everything from steering feel and precision together with damper firmness to deliver crisp and poised cornering when the blacktop gets twisty. Yet, even with those 21-inch wheels at each corner, the ride never becomes brittle.
Lexus has priced the LC 500 Convertible at a competitive $101,000, or roughly $8,000 more than the Coupe. That’s in the ballpark of chief rival Mercedes’ evergreen SL550 ($114,700), along with Porsche’s base 911 Carrera Cab ($112,000) and BMW’s portlier 840i Convertible ($97,400).
Yes, like the opposition, options will quickly engorge the LC’s sticker. Those forged 21-inch rims add $2,650, the fancy Mark Levinson audio is another $1,200, a Touring Package with fancier leather, embossed headrests and surround sound audio adds another $5,290.
Or you can have it all with one of the Inspiration Series models that come painted in a spectacular shade called Structural Blue with a blue top and white semi-aniline leather. With only 100 on offer, they’re a steal at $119,800.
So how many weeks till Christmas? I’ll take mine with a silver bow.
Want to drive one? Call up Lexus of Tampa Bay in Tampa, Lexus of Clearwater, or Lexus of Wesley Chapel for a test drive.