LEXUS LC 500 CONVERTIBLE REVIEW

The Lexus LC range is one of three flagship vehicles in the prestige Japanese carmaker’s range. Available as a two-door coupe or convertible the LC joins the long-established LS sedan and the LX SUV in competition against equivalent models from its luxury European rivals.

Launched in Australia as the LC500 Coupe in 2017 it was joined by this week’s test car, the spectacular LC500 Convertible, in July 2020.

STYLING
The Lexus LC500 Convertible is a magnificent looking vehicle. Long and low it is reminiscent of the elegant grand tourers of the 1930s.

Bucking the recent trend towards retractable hard-top roofs, it comes with a four-layer wrinkle-free canvas top.

As with all soft-tops it doesn’t look its best until the top is down. This can be done in just 15 seconds at speeds of up to 50km/h and stores neatly enough under an integrated tonneau cover to leave a modest 149 litres of boot space.

The LC500 Convertible is 10mm longer and 5mm taller than its hard-top sibling. Although it does have a pair of seats in the rear it’s strictly a 2+2. Indeed, with the driver’s seat pushed back to my comfortable driving position, there was zero leg or knee room behind me.

So, the rear space is more likely to be used as additional storage space, preferably battened down especially when driving with the top open.

Lexus has come up with a choice of 40 available exterior colour, interior trim and roof colour combinations to provide a high level of customisation.

There are 10 exterior colours with black trim and black roof, flare red trim and black roof, ochre trim and beige roof, or ochre trim and black roof.

Standard are 21-inch forged-alloy two-tone wheels

ENGINE / TRANSMISSION
Both the LC500 Coupe and Convertible are powered by a 5.0-litre naturally aspirated V8 petrol engine with direct injection generating 351kW of power at 7100rpm and 540Nm of torque at 4800rpm.

The Coupe is also available as a petrol-electric hybrid (LC500h) with a 3.5-litre V6 engine although Lexus has no plans to add this to the soft-top version.

Transmission to the rear wheels is through a revised 10-speed automatic with sequential and paddle-shift change options.

FEATURES
Lexus LC500 Convertible is priced at $214,000 plus on-road costs but importantly what you see for that price is what you get because, unlike its rivals, there are no options.

Starting with safety equipment there are six airbags; vehicle stability and traction control; clearance and reversing sonar; pre-collision safety system including braking; lane keep assist with steering assist; blind spot monitor; rear cross traffic alert; all-speed radar active cruise control; pop-up pedestrian sensing safety bonnet; reversing camera with rear guide assist; LED headlights with cornering lights and washers, dusk-sensing function and automatic high-beam; rain-sensing windscreen wipers; self-dimming interior mirror; and colour head-up display with speed limit display.

Other standard features include 10-way power-operated front seats with driver memory settings; illuminated retractable door handles; and semi-aniline leather-accented front seats.

INFOTAINMENT
The LC500 uses twin screens to display information. There’s an 8-inch digital instrumentation panel in front of the driver and a 10.3-inch multimedia screen in the centre of the dashboard

Standard features include satellite navigation system with SUNA live traffic alerts; USB activated Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; DAB+ digital radio; USB and AUX inputs; and a superb 13-speaker, 918-watt Mark Levinson Clari-Fi DVD audio sound system that sounds great even with the roof open.

Unfortunately, much of the benefit of the outstanding infotainment system is offset by the use of a laptop-style touch pad in the centre console rather than the more user-friendly touchscreen and/or knob-based control systems.

As convenient as such a set-up might be on a laptop it is borderline dangerous for the driver to use in a moving vehicle. That’s because of the light swipes and taps needed to control it as well as the need for the driver to look at the touchpad and then up to the screen. Fortunately, there is the option of voice control.

DRIVING
Our variant of the LC500 Convertible featured a Khaki Metal body, which is actually dark green, with a beige roof and it drew admiring looks wherever we went. Indeed, it attracted so much attention we needed to factor in some extra time during our week-long test to cater for the many people who wanted to tell them more about the car.

Getting onboard is sure to test the less supple occupants but that’s to be expected in a car of this genre. Once seated and with the top closed, we had to drop the driver’s seat to its lowest setting to avoid scraping against the roof. With the top open we raised it to its highest setting. In either position the seats are comfortable and supportive.

The Australian climate often doesn’t suit open air driving and one of our favourite pastimes is to get out and about in cooler conditions including at night. To cater for this the LC500 Convertible comes not only with heated and ventilated front seats but also with front seat neck heaters and heated steering wheel.

Press the start button and you – and anyone within earshot – knows what’s under the bonnet. There’s no chance of creeping away silently as you could in the LC 500 Coupe hybrid, rather you get the distinctive V8 burble that is becoming rarer by the day. No artificial sound enhancement required here.

Having said that, around town and driven conservatively at low revs the engine is all but silent.

On the open road steering and balance is superb and it certainly doesn’t feel like a two-tonne vehicle. With the roof open we found a negligible amount of scuttle shake even over poor road surfaces.

There are five pre-set drive options (Normal, Comfort, Eco, Sport S and Sport S+) as well as the ability to customise setting to suit the driver’s preferences.

The 10-speed automatic has been tuned to adapt to different drive requirements, changing imperceptibly in Comfort or Eco mode but more noticeably in the three higher performance settings.

Official fuel consumption is listed at 12.7 litres per 100 kilometres. We averaged 13.6 L/100 km and were surprised at how slowly the fuel gauge was dropping down until we looked up the specs and found that there was an 82 litres tank under there.

All Lexus vehicles come with a four-year unlimited distance warranty.

Owners get three-year membership of the Lexus Encore Platinum Owner Benefits program. These benefits include 24/7 roadside assistance, capped-price servicing and personalised servicing pick-up and drop-off from home or work, and a loan vehicle.

SUMMING UP
The Lexus LC500 Convertible is a spectacular looking car from any angle from outside and in and is a serious contender for the best-looking vehicle on the Australian market. Rarely have we driven anything that draws so much attention from both the motoring and general public.

Performance is also superb although, despite the promise that the throaty V8 engine suggests, although there is plenty of sporting performance it’s more suited to motorway cruising than racetrack fanging. But that’s pretty much what the targeted Lexus buyer will be looking for.

AT A GLANCE

MODEL RANGE
Lexus LC500 Luxury 5.0-litre two-door convertible: $214,000
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Lexus dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Lexus LC500 Luxury 5.0-litre two-door convertible)

ENGINE:
Capacity: 4.969 litres
Configuration: V8
Maximum Power: 351 kW @ 7100 rpm
Maximum Torque: 540 Nm @ 4800 rpm
Fuel Type: Premium unleaded
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 12.7 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 290 g/km

DRIVELINE: 10-speed automatic

DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4770 mm
Wheelbase: 2870 mm
Width: 1920 mm
Height: 1350 mm
Turning Circle: 10.8 metres
Kerb mass: 2035 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 82 litres

BRAKES:
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc

STANDARD WARRANTY:
Four years / unlimited km

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