Exotic looks, wacky cabin, the noise, the quality, the joy of being in something wilfully different
The interior tech might slowly drive you mad
What is it?
The LC500 Convertible is one of those moments where, every now and again, Lexus nails it. Perhaps even Lexus doesn’t quite know when these moments happen. Once upon a time, the new LS limo came along and gave the Mercedes S-Class sleepless nights. A decade ago, something called the LFA came along and rewrote dream garage line-ups the world over. And now there’s this: the LC500 Convertible.
It’s an attempt by Lexus to make a sporting GT car, and while it struggles to make its case on paper, the experience of going down the road in one of these idiosyncratic masterpieces is one of the great motoring treats. This is a machine to be savoured, lusted after, and worshipped. Very soon, they simply won’t be allowed to make ‘em like this any more.
What versions of the LC are there?
So, what we’ve got is a soft-top version of the LC500 coupe. The LC Convertible is only available with a V8 engine: Lexus decided not to bother chopping the roof off the V6 hybrid version, because the batteries make packaging a folding roof tricky, and the weight doesn’t bear thinking about. We’re not complaining – the V8 is the engine we want to listen to.
In the 2021 model year, all LCs got revised suspension settings, whether they’ve got a roof or not. Here, chassis reinforcements and the soft-top mechanism tip the LC500’s kerbweight the wrong side of two tonnes. Meanwhile, the naturally-aspirated V8 (remember those?) displaces five glorious litres, and still develops 465bhp and 398lb ft. Not big numbers by modern standards, but it's a very big heart.
Power arrives at the rear wheels via a ten-speed automatic gearbox presumably stolen from a mountain bike, but even with its paddleshifters and Sport mode, there’s precisely nothing fitted to the LC500 Convertible to encourage a lap of the Nürburgring. It’s as traditional a roadster as Toyota’s deluxe brand can get away with, and it’s a £90,000 riposte to German brand devotees who write off Lexuses as just a Prius with an angry gob.
What else is weird about it?
To that end, one of the only optional extras besides the deliriously vibrant colour palette is a Sport+ pack. So, what does that add? Ceramic brakes, perhaps? A carbon-fibre diffuser? Nope. Try neck-heaters in the seats, upgraded leather upholstery and 21-inch rims. Style, comfort and exclusivity. That’s what the LC500 Convertible is all about.
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
Lexus freely admits the LC exists chiefly as a halo model, to pique your interest in the brand and maybe get you considering a UX instead of an Audi Q3, or an ES instead of a 4 Series Gran Coupe. It’s never going to stem the sports car sales avalanche that is the Porsche 911. But that, in fact, is central to its beguiling charm.
You’re hardly likely to spot another one, and when you do, you’ll share a knowing nod with your fellow LC driver. You took the road less travelled, thought to hell with depreciation. Yep, this is a YOLO-Lexus.
While the coupe is arguably the better proportioned piece of design, the Convertible suits the LC500’s personality, because gone are any pretensions it’s going to be an out-and-out sports car. This is less a car you drive, more an object you experience. You could be more titillated sitting at a standstill in one of these than doing a topless 95 in a Mercedes SL.
What’s more, a low-slung non-hybrid 275g/km V8 drop-top is about the least future-proof menu you could possibly use to make a car. So even if you don’t get the badge, or the looks, or the interior, you should respect the bloody-minded perfectionism that made this flagship happen. Because you’ll miss cars like this when they’re gone, and that won’t be long.