We first drove Lexus stunningly beautiful LC 500 a few years ago when it was introduced. It is a beautiful car to look at, to sit in, and to drive. It is a masterful GT, and while it isn’t a hard-core sports car, it does a pretty good impression of one. The 5.0L 32-valve V8 makes glorious noises; the looks turn heads everywhere we go; and the creatures comforts inside kept us comfortable while wringing it out. Though I’m a hardcore sports car guy, the LC won me over completely. We then drove the LC 500 Hybrid, which….well, it was okay but it was a bit disappointing after the full-on LC. A step in the wrong direction, in our opinion. Perhaps a convertible was what the LC needed to generate new interest. Lexus must have had the same thought because one showed up last year on the auto show circuit. Now that Covid has let up enough to let us get some cars delivered to be reviewed, we were able to get our hands on the new LC 500 convertible to try it out.
First off, it’s still as stunning to look at as when it was new. The design is gorgeous. From it’s aggressive vents to it’s retracting door handles, there’s nothing we dislike about the design. While we miss the fastback roof design that integrated with the rear deck so seamlessly, the angular lines of the soft top blend well when it’s up. When its down, it looks like the perfect summer cruising car. The top is electric and goes up and down quite quickly – roughly 10 seconds from start to finish. Seeing it in the flesh is like seeing a space ship that just landed and your jaw drops as far as everyone else when you see it. Lexus loaned us a Nori Green Pearl over beige model to try out.
Inside, nothing has changed and that’s a good thing. If the LC looks like a space ship just landed, the interior design backs that impression up. Looking like nothing else on the road, it can take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with where everything is. The seats are still exquisitely comfortable – both heated and ventilated and well bolstered. The controls take a little getting used to if you’ve never been in an LC before, but once you’re acquainted you’re set. Vision out is actually a little better than the coupe, especially with the top down. While there’s plenty of room in the front seats, the back seats are essentially package shelves. Or dog storage. Or seating for legless children. PETITE legless children. So it’s essentially a two-seat luxury convertible with some storage room in back.
Push the Start/Stop button and 5.0L 32-valve V8 rumbles to life and clears it’s throat with purpose. It provides 471 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque. With a redline of 7300 rpms, it generates some serious sporting credentials and moves the heavy car along with speed and purpose. With the top down and sport mode selected to open up the secondary exhaust valves, you’re going to want to flip through the 10 gears using the paddle shifters just to hold gears and listen to every glorious note the engine makes. And glorious notes they are, recalling the sounds the LFA makes, but without the manic 11,000 redline scream. Think of the engine noise as ‘LFA Lite” and you get the idea. The magnesium paddle shifters feel excellent in the hand and while they don’t shift with the same degree of shift immediacy as , say, the Maserati Ghibli Trofeo, they’re perfectly acceptable.
The steering is sharp and intuitive. The heavy car changes direction like a rabbit being pursued by dogs, especially at lower speeds. At higher speeds it seems to hesitate a little more, and we detected some understeer in the platform.
The suspension is a Yamaha adaptive variable system. It provides excellent comfort but feels very soft, even in sport mode. As this is a convertible, absorption of pavement irregularities is the priority and it does it well. Nobody is going to be pushing this car too hard. A little hard, yes; a lot hard, no. In basic touring mode, the rear suspension felt particularly soft and yielding. Too much for our liking in fact, so we kept it in Sport Mode most of the time we drove it.
The brakes are massive dinner plate-sized units with multi-piston calipers and they do an excellent job of slowing the car quickly, although they were a little grabby in everyday driving conditions, something we see a lot of in cars that also have sporting aspirations. The Maserati Ghibli Trofeo had the same issue, as did the Supra we drove after it. It’s not too bad. You can easily adjust your driving style to compensate for it, but it’s somewhat annoying on a car at this price level. They hide inside massive 21” wheels.
In the end though, it’s a convertible and you just want to go drive it and feel the wind toss your hair about, you want to hear the amazing engine yell, you want to enjoy the comfort and convenience of a nice interior, and you want to be noticed driving one of the most stunning cars on the planet. The LC 500 convertible does all of that very well. Should you decide you want to have some fun and push it, it’s happy to accommodate you and it will impress you with it’s looks and it’s sound and decent handling.
The EPA says it gets 25 mpg on the highway and 15 in the city. That’s about what we got too, though our city driving may have suffered as we found ourselves winding out gears to hear that engine more. We also hammered it at every stoplight to feel the acceleration.
Everyone that saw the car simply loved it. A few asked what it was. More asked “How much?”, which is a fair question. Base price was $101,000. Ours was optioned out to $111,325. There are a ton of less expensive cars that will give it a run for it’s money and there are a number of similarly priced cars that will wipe the floor with it performance-wise, but that’s not what the LC is about. The LC convertible is about the joy of top-down summertime motoring, beauty, sexiness, and the racy growl of a capable engine.