2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible Review
Technology can certainly change in half a century. The process of mounting the convertible top of my 1959 Austin-Healey Bugeye Sprite begins by hollowing out its bent steel tube frame behind the seats, spreading its tubes into the shape of fingers, connecting all their ends together, doing it delicately. cantilever over the cockpit, then down. in the vertical slots on the left and right sides. Except everything is misaligned by an inch, so you have to get on the seats and fight like an Everglades alligator.
It is only the shaking and trigger frame of hair. Any sudden movement will cause the car mouse to stop and violently dismantle. That would be just as good, as I still don’t have the vinyl top that fits the Healey like squirming in a puppy tent. Instead, I just put the passenger side of the tonneau cover in place and, if it rains, I look straight ahead when I stop at a light.
You can only imagine, then, my bewilderment at raising the retracted roof of the 2021 Lexus LC 500 Cabriolet. There’s a small leather-covered cover on the center console that tilts with one finger.
The entire rear of the car bursts into a fan dance so elaborate of swinging panels and pole vault fabric, it deserves a musical accompaniment. May I suggest the last 16 seconds of the “1812 opening” because that is exactly how long it takes. Best of all, this feature can be performed at up to 31mph, which translates, after a 5 second delay, into a myriad of Instagram posts from your sidewalk audience. This, my friends, is what 61 years of relentless automotive progress since the Bugeye have brought us.
After briefly taking a close look at this beautifully finished four-layer fabric top, I flipped the top switch cover and waited an even quicker 15 seconds to retract the entire gear. (Underneath the switch is an ejection seat trigger reminiscent of James Bond’s DB5. But unlike the Aston Martin, this one philosophically ejects the oppression of sardine-like containment, removing the ceiling between you. and the stars.)
It is a balmy evening, the sun went down half an hour ago, the air is a refreshing ocean breeze. A lot of work has gone into making this a convertible, and I’m not wasting it. Tonight I will turn right out of MotorTrend headquarters on Rosecrans Avenue, heading for Pacific Coast Highway on my way home. Step left, step towards the 405 freeway lanes of rushing and swerving Amazon trucks.
Let’s get rid of the big three benchmark specs as I crawl through PCH’s red lights: The LC 500 is 187.4 inches long (halfway between a Corolla and a Camry). It weighs around 4,500 pounds (triple that of my Bugeye, no kidding). And as with my old Cannondale, there are 10 gear ratios in its transmission, powered by a 471 horsepower, four-valve-per-cylinder 5.0-liter V8. Chris Walton, editor-in-chief of road tests, estimates it will do 60 mph in about 5 seconds. Fast, but not rifle fired. The light turns green. I’m switching the rotary drive mode selector to Sport + (which should be represented by a finger-in-the-ears icon).
His banshee, his hellhound howls will instantly faint anyone within earshot, like soldiers The golden finger when the fake nerve gas was sprayed on Fort Knox. And despite your suspicions that this is a pre-recorded sham, it is genuine. Kind of. I quote the manufacturer: “… intake pulses [that] are naturally transported through a diaphragm in a sound pipe which carries the sounds, not the air itself, into the cabin to enhance the rumble of the V-8. Bookending the intake whoosh are harmonics above the exhaust note when a valve in front of the muffler opens. No electrons in anyone’s sleeve. My Bugeye uses a pipe that goes under the car to the back where it ends.
Sliding south on PCH, the chassis rarely concedes that the top third of its structure is missing. A slight earthquake every mile or so – better than most. In fact, the LC 500 Cabriolet has been significantly redesigned to counter its lack of a cover, with less unsprung weight up front, and its redesigned rear suspension towers supported by new die-cast structures and redesigned damping.
On the track, the coupe version of the LC 500 was a nimble car for its noticeable weight, with a tail that wiggles around as you pedal the accelerator while rarely sliding on the invisible banana peel. But across Manhattan Beach, we’re doing what these cars really do for their lives: cruising.
The steering is precise but somewhat artificial. The brake pedal is sensitive to tilting but indistinct during the last few meters of slowing down before the pedestrian crossing lanes. Rotating that drive mode button livens things up, with a quick downshift growl and heightened gauge graphics. But at most, it solidifies the path of, say, a 6 to a 7, not a 9.
The element of LC is when it comes to just keeping the momentum going, giving yourself time to think, and there’s a lot of material for that. For a car with such a tech vibe, it’s not the feature festival you’d expect. There’s the temperature control system, which works to maintain the desired temperature regardless of the roof position and includes neck warmers and targeted air to the backs of your hands, when lowered.
There’s Android Auto and Apple CarPlay built-in, as well as the Lexus-Alexa app for infotainment. The Lexus + safety system includes lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, rear cross traffic alert and a PreCollision feature that detects pedestrians. A light windbreaker discourages the passing air from going back and blowing your hair forward.
This is not a 4th of July fireworks show – although it does feature some actual pyrotechnics, like a hood that pops up explosively to dampen the phone zombies that wander your way and fireworks poles. flipping explosions on the rear seats in case you flip your cover.
But the window in the soul of the LC is its slot for inserting CDs. I couldn’t believe a car was still equipped with such a feature from the 1990s until I dug up an old Chet Baker record, the slot sucked it up with my fingertips and the Mark Levinson audio system went started playing Baker’s wispy voice on “My Funny Valentine.”
I know this car. My dad – who drove a 1956 Thunderbird and Lincoln Mark V and preferred flashy “personal luxury cars” – loved this sort of thing, a two-door meant more for cruising the boulevards than tracking the leak. It combines better with the old Cadillac XLR than with a Jaguar F-Type. Across Redondo Beach, I got screams from young Camaros guys screaming, “Cool ride!” (appreciating their punctuation with “guy” instead of “sir”). The LC 500 is a showboat that swings more heads than a chiropractic clinic.
I seriously challenge you to come up with an interior as complex, detailed and well finished as this Lexus. It’s an explosion of Nike swooshes and straight lines, with door panels and seats with more pleats than Mick Jagger’s cheeks. Everything brings your face closer to examine it. But the primary objective of the cockpit seems to be to demonstrate craftsmanship, with design in second place. Its buttons may be in odd places, but the leather and spider web of stitching are just great. Are the accommodations working? The rear seat legroom is not suitable for children, but the trunk is large enough for a golf bag. So apparently yes.
Regardless of the perspective, the body has an angle for you, and all of them spring from the industry’s largest Steven Tyler grille (although it does have a competitor in the BMW 7 Series’ giant kidney pair). With the coupe roof removed, the convertible has been visually rebalanced with a raised tail and enlarged spoiler. But the main optical feature is the insanely long hood that I stare down as I crawl along the waterfront at Huntington Beach – the movement of bonfires in the sand entering the cabin. This is the moment I love the most in open cars.
Many years ago I walked into the business of a friend, R. Straman Co, as Richard (he’s the R) circular saw the roof of a Ferrari Daytona Coupé. I watched the teeth of the blade greedily eat away at the base of the roof. If Hannibal Lecter was a car enthusiast, there would have been a glass of Chianti on the workbench. But in the world of convertible conversions, Richard was the diamond cutter you wore the Hope in. The Daytona is reborn as a very sensual and precious Spyder. And like diamond cutting, it all depends on where you place the cut.
Looking at the LC, I wondered if Richard would have parted the roof quite where Lexus did. The coupe’s amputated B-pillar base serves a visual purpose when the top is up, but when lowered, it looks like a low tree stump that subtly stumbles the eye. This may be a necessary pivot location.
Before buying the Bugeye (for the second time… long story), I asked Richard for his opinion. “Have you driven such an old car lately?” he asked, tilting his head. “Modern cars are so much easier to live with.” The LC 500 Convertible’s 16-second one-finger lift to 31 mph certainly makes its point. But despite the date of birth on my driver’s license, I’m not quite ready for my dad’s car even though I have a Chet Baker CD handy.
|2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible|
|STARTING PRICE||$ 102,025|
|DISPOSITION||Front engine, RWD, 4 passengers, 2-door convertible|
|ENGINE||5.0L Atkinson Cycle DOHC 32-valve V8 / 471 hp / 398 lb-ft|
|TRANSMISSION||10 speed automatic|
|WEIGHT ON BOARD||4500 lbs (manufacturer)|
|L x W x H||187.4 x 75.9 x 53.1 inches|
|0 to 60 mph||5.0 s (MT est)|
|EPA FUEL ECON||15/25/18 mpg (MT east)|
|ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY / ROAD||225/135 kW-h / 100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||1.06 lbs / mile|
|ON SALE||Summer 2020|