Five minutes ensconced behind the perforated leather helm of Lexus’ sublime new 2021 LC 500 Convertible leaves you in no doubt 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 towards 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 muscular 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 drive 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.