DRIVEN: Lexus LC 500 Convertible is a sublime GT car
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NELSPRUIT - They are going to be unicorns in a couple of years so if you have the means then grab one.
We’re talking about what petrolheads around the globe describe as the ultimate in engine nirvana; a big V8 internal combustion engine.
And if it’s under the hood of a Lexus you know it’s got to be good and in the case of the Lexus LC 500 Convertible the combination of the drop top and engine makes it an even rarer breed.
It sits rather neatly beside the LC 500 Coupe as one of the luxury lifestyle brand’s flagship models.
What’s the fuss then about that V8?
Well, it’s normally aspirated and there’s not an oversupply of those around, it has direct injection, pushes out 351kW and 540Nm of torque and is coupled to a fantastic 10-speed automatic transmission that sends power to the 21-inch wheels at the back with a glorious symphony of sound from the twin pipes.
It’s more of a GT car than a sports convertible but if you have to, it will get you to 100km/h from standstill in 4.7 seconds.
The brief was to design a convertible that retains the styling and appearance of the LC 500 Coupe and one look tells you that the Takumi craftsmen tasked with the job took it very seriously.
It’s not all convertibles that look as good with the roof up as it does with the top down but in this instance it hits it out the park.
At R2 345 500 you don’t get to tick any options simply because there’s nothing more you could want to add, and yes, it’s a heap of money, but it gets you into a very luxurious exclusive club.
The attention to detail is quite remarkable as are the materials used and finishings even in nooks and crannies you wouldn’t normally spend too much time investigating.
From the back the light cluster with 3D lights in an “L” shape points to the attention to detail as does the redesign of the boot lid while the front with its impressive cascading grille and sloped bonnet is even more eye-catching.
It’s the same inside with an abundance of premium leather, quality stitching and soft touch surfaces. The classy dash with its 8.0-inch digital instrumentation, 10.3-inch multimedia screen, 13-speaker 918 watt Mark Levinson sound system and floating door handles leaves no doubt as to the premium cockpit you’re sitting in.
The multimedia screen is operated with Lexus’ remote touch pad controller which proved to be very sensitive especially while driving but once you’ve got all your settings where you want after scrolling through the various menu options having to fiddle with it is left to a minimum.
No doubt, that’s all very impressive as is the comprehensive list of safety features and technology but it’s all about the drive and the V8 right? And here the LC Convertible comes to the party with a painted face, pointed hat, streamers and bright candles.
The day started off cloudy but once we had left the Kruger Park gate it was a glorious Lowveld day which gave us an opportunity to let the roof down in 15 seconds and allow the Lexus Climate Concierge that automatically takes care of your cabin surroundings and temperatures to look after us.
The cabin remained relatively quiet and wind free at normal driving speeds thanks to the wind deflector, sound insulation and Active Noise Control.
It does not thank goodness dampen the sound of the engine rumble as we accelerated and slowed down and accelerated again much to the delight and whistles of encouragement of people next to the road.
When it was my turn to get behind the wheel we had passed through the towns, road works and traffic leaving lovely stretches of open road and bends to contend with back to Mbombela.
The gearbox ratios are perfectly suited to the car no matter what speed you’re driving or what mode you’re in and with every up or downshift the tail pipes respond with equal enthusiasm.
Power is fantastically linear as it effortlessly picks up speed with sharp throttle response especially in sport mode (there’s sport+ as well) and the electrically assisted steering is precise with good feedback when you start to push the limit.
I switched to manual using the large well placed paddles because you know… the “blip” as you gear up and down.
It’s the kind of drive you keep on wanting to push the throttle closer to the lush carpet as you enter and exit bends while throughout the LC convertible remains solidly planted, testimony to the chassis, and more than happy to respond to your demands with the seats keeping you safely ensconced in comfort.
The suspension does a great job of handling the road imperfections and tight corners with little body roll. A true GT car that you want to load with your luggage and head for the long open road.
The Lexus LC convertible is one of the best examples of a combination of luxury, open top driving, performance and sound and if it was me and I had the means I would certainly be contacting a dealer. Also, because word is that it’s unlikely a V8 will find its way under the bonnet again.
The LC Convertible comes with a 7-year/105 000km warranty and full maintenance plan.