Upon first driving the Lexus LC 500 Coupe, I expressed the feeling that it would come closer to perfection in the form of a convertible. Focusing on delivering the same level of dynamic driving performance and luxuriousness offered in the Coupe, the 2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible has come to fruition. It was first shown as a concept car at the 2019 Detroit International Auto Show in January, followed by the global debut at the 2019 Los Angeles International Auto Show in November.
Lexus was without a convertible in its lineup for nearly five years, and the new LC 500 Convertible was designed from the top down replicating the coupe’s “Even Sharper, More Refined” driving characteristics, featuring a low center of gravity, optimal weight distribution, and a focus on performance-oriented handling courtesy of impressive structural rigidity.
The LC 500 Convertible is an expansion of the Lexus two-door family, promising to further stimulate one’s senses with the allure of open-air motoring. Its unique roofline skillfully combines that of the coupe with the character and appeal of a convertible. The profile is equally gorgeous with the top up or down.
Lexus engineers relied on both computer-aided engineering analysis and real-world driving evaluation in order to match the driving qualities of the coupe counterpart, with the extensive research and development yielding impressive results.
The focus was to retain similar handling dynamics to the LC 500 coupe while also improving chassis rigidity with the addition and relocation of various structural braces. The LC Convertible’s suspension is tuned specifically to complement the subtle changes in weight between the two platforms, as a reduction of un-sprung weight in the front suspension improves the overall stroke. In the rear, structural rigidity was further enhanced by reshaping and relocating the rear suspension brace tower. Weight was reduced in the rear of the vehicle by utilizing a lightweight die-cast aluminum suspension brace, while a performance dampener has been incorporated to enhance ride comfort.
The convertible top is a four-layered cloth unit that operates in a scant 15 seconds to open, and 16 seconds to close at speeds up to 31 mph. It is designed to retain the flowing roofline of the coupe without the supporting frame visible through the fabric and is virtually void of wrinkles thanks to premium magnesium and aluminum frame components and carefully selected and manufactured material that ensures optimal tension, and improving sound insulation. The switch is hidden from view along with a separate window control switch, beneath a disguised flip-up panel that matches the rest of the console, and an animated display on the instrument panel shows the top’s progress. are adopted for the roof links and support structure to provide both a reduction in weight and a design with a low center of gravity.
The soft-top design of the LC 500 Convertible features an innovative folding mechanism that includes a tonneau cover for when it is stored. The design subtly accentuates the sleek lines of the convertible without significant intrusions to the trunk and cabin space The coupe’s curves are further highlighted in the silhouette of the convertible through a few key changes. At the rear, the trunk is accentuated with a “kicked up” design that slightly lifts its profile, while the spoiler surface is laterally broadened emphasizing the car’s low, wide stance. The center brake light is now integrated into the trunk lid, where the coupe’s light rests on the top of the rear windshield.
The cabin design reduces wind noise due to the unique shape of the beltline and rear molding that suppresses wind entry. A transparent polycarbonate wind deflector helps restrict unwanted air from entering the cabin during city and freeway driving to allow occupants to enjoy comfortably conversing with the top down. An available wind screen that further reduces wind buffeting at higher speeds is also available. Active Noise Control (ANC) combines sound insulation and absorption techniques to help suppress unwanted harshness from entering the cabin.
The HVAC system is designed to automatically adjust temperature regardless of whether the top is raised or lowered, and if the top is down, neck heaters are designed to help keep the upper body warm. The Lexus Climate Concierge with Upper Body Heating automatically manages the air conditioner, seat heaters, neck heaters and steering-wheel heater to ensure the cabin is at the ideal temperature even if the outside weather is not. The HVAC system has also been optimized to send warm or cold air to the back of the driver’s hands when gripping the steering wheel.
The front engine, rear-wheel-drive LC 500 Convertible delivers breath-taking performance similar to that of the coupe, thanks to the powerful drivetrain combination of the 5.0-liter V8 engine paired with the seamless Direct-Shift 10-speed electronically controlled VVT automatic transmission. The longitudinally positioned, naturally aspirated, direct-injection V8 engine is rated to produce 471 horsepower at 7,100 rpm along with 398 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm.
While efforts have been taken to eliminate certain sounds, the powerful, throaty roar of the naturally aspirated V8 engine is delightful. To make the engine’s throaty voice heard while the top is down, the engine’s intake pulses are naturally carried through a diaphragm into a sound pipe that delivers the sounds, not the air itself, into the cabin enhancing the V8’s rumble (similar to the system employed in the Lexus LFA). There’s no electronic sound generation here, and to further enhance the engine’s aggressive exhaust tone and augment performance, a computer-controlled valve creates a balance between optimizing exhaust backpressure and exhaust tone and volume at higher engine speeds.
CABIN CREATURE COMFORTS and CONNECTIVITY
Much like the coupe, the LC 500 Convertible comes with an impressive 10.3-inch high-resolution split-screen multimedia display that provides immediate, simultaneous access to audio or climate controls and other various systems, including the voice-activated navigation system.
For 2021, the LC Convertible features Android Auto, allowing the seamless casting of one’s device’s interface onto the vehicle’s multimedia display. Play music via favorite apps such as Spotify® and Pandora®, send messages through a range of commonly used apps like WhatsApp®, navigate with Google Maps™, and request information—all voice activated—through the Google Assistant™. For added convenience, Android Auto is also able to deliver tailored information based on calendar, usage activity and habits.
With the integration of Apple CarPlay® i, one can access the familiar interface from an iPhone through the vehicle’s multimedia display. Simply connect an iPhone to get directions, make calls, send and receive message via Siri®, and access apps like Spotify™, Audible® and Apple® podcasts.
It’s possible to bring all the convenience of Amazon Alexa on the road with the Lexus+Alexa app. Using only your voice, it’s easy to access thousands of the same functions available with Alexa at home. Listen to audiobooks, stream Amazon Music, make lists, check the weather, get news briefings and much more. One can also use it to control compatible smart-home devices such as lighting, thermostat and security systems. Offering added in-vehicle convenience, Alexa even syncs to your Navigation System to provide on-the-go recommendations.
The Lexus Enform Remote service can lock and unlock doors, start the engine and climate control, check the fuel level and more, all through a smartphone, smartwatch or devices enabled with the Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. And it’s included for the first three years of ownership.
Lexus Enform Destination Assist three-year trial is included and acts as an in-vehicle personal concierge, providing directions and destinations delivered by a live agent. The included Lexus Enform App Suite 2.0 app trial period offers access to favorite mobile applications through the vehicle’s center console display, including Amazon Alexa compatibility, NPR One, iHeartRadio®, Slacker® and Yelp®.
Sport front seats are both comfortable and suppoertive with impressive adjustability. Rear seating is suitable only for highly diminutive occupants as they are essentially suggestive for occupation.
SAFETY RANKS HIGH
The new 2021 LC Convertible comes standard with Lexus Safety System+ , which includes: Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Lane Keep Assist, All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and Intelligent High Beams. Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert also comes as standard fare.
Important safety features are specific to the convertible such as the active roll bars that are designed to deploy upward when a rollover is detected. When not deployed, these roll bars are hidden from view retaining the convertible’s aerodynamic form when the top is down.
Lexus Enform Safety Connect comes standard and is complimentary for the first three years of ownership with access to Lexus Enform response centers 24/7/365. Lexus Enform Service Connect is complimentary for the first 10 years, and the vehicle can send alerts for specific factory recommended maintenance, simultaneously alerting a preferred Lexus retailer. The Lexus app or LexusDrivers.com website can be used to set push-reminders and alerts for maintenance and service issues. and the vehicle can send alerts for specific factory recommended maintenance, simultaneously alerting a preferred Lexus retailer. The Lexus app or LexusDrivers.com website can be used to set push-reminders and alerts for maintenance and service issues.
Not officially on sale yet, my test 2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible was a prototype vehicle. The exterior finish was Atomic Silver metallic with a Black top, while the interior was done in Circuit Red leather. The base price was set at $101,000., while the final tally came to $111,325., after factoring in the 21-inch forged, polished alloy wheels shod with staggered run flat Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires; Head-Up –Display; Limited Slip Differential; Touring Package; and delivery, processing and handling fee.
While he LC 500 Convertible is based in part on the LC 500 coupe, it is no chop-topped conversion. Considerable driving evaluation and analysis went into crafting unique driving qualities giving the vehicle a specific athleticism.
The suspension is tuned specifically to complement the subtle changes in weight between the coupe and convertible. From its dampers and coils, to its bushings and the unique Yamaha Performance damper placed transversely at the rear, the Convertible’s specially-designed components are designed to help ensure comfortable, yet sharp, road-going performance. A reduction of un-sprung weight in the front suspension improves the overall stroke, and weight is also reduced in the rear with the use of lightweight die-cast aluminum for the construction of the suspension tower brace.
The tuning of the Adaptive Variable Suspension is optimized to complement the convertible. The AVS system continually adjusts damping control in response to driving operation and road surface conditions, with the ability to adjust to an impressive 650 different levels of damping force. The AVS system has also been relocated compared to the previous model year coupe, as it no longer resides at the top of the absorber and is now mounted to the lower side of the shock absorber body below the spring.
Even the sound system is fine-tuned specifically for the convertible with an EQ that adjusts based on the driving environment whether the top is open or closed.
Driving the 2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible is a joy with the top up or down (but best when down). Acceleration is exhilarating, handling characteristics are quick and nimble, ride quality is firm but smooth. Wind buffeting is minimal even without the optional wind blocker making for pleasant top down conversation and audio system enjoyment.
There are left and right stalk controls for driving modes and conditions flanking the steering console. The left knob tales care of turning off traction Control and Snow mode, while the right knob controls Sport, Sport +, Normal, Custom, Comfort and ECO modes. Sport + was determined to be the most enjoyable and also delivered the best and most enjoyable exhaust note.
THE FINAL TAKE
First impressions alone are worth the lofty price tag. The 2021 Lexus LC 500 drop top is truly drop dead gorgeous from virtually every angle and the driving experience delivers the pinnacle of enjoyment. It ranks right up there with other high-end sports cars on every level and is actually more reasonable in terms of cost than many. This is a car that I could learn to love and live with.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible
Base Price: $101,000.
Price as Tested: $111,325.
Engine Type and Size: 5.0-liter, DOHC, 32-valve normally aspirated
V-8, dual VVTi with electrical fuel injection.
Horsepower (bhp): 471 @ 7,100 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 398 @ 4,800 rpm
Transmission: 10-speed Sport Direct Shift CVT electrilautomatic with paddle shift and manual mode.
Drive Train: Longitudinally mounted front engine / RWD.
Suspension: Front – Double-joint Multilink.
Rear – Multilink.
Brakes: Four-wheel power-assisted disc brakes with ABS, EBD and BA. Front -15.7 in ventilated rotors with six-piston opposed aluminum calipers, high-friction brake pads.
Rear – 14.1 in ventilated rotors with four-piston opposed aluminum calipers, high-friction brake pads
Tires: Michelin Pilot Super Sport – 245/40 R21 96Y-front / 275/35 R21 98Y-rear mounted on5-“V”-spokePolished alloy wheels with painted inners.
Wheelbase: 113.0 inches
Length Overall: 187.4 inches
Width: 75.6 inches
Height: 53.2 inches
Curb Weight: 4,540 lbs.
Turning Circle: 17.7 ft.
Fuel Capacity: 21.7 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 15.0 mpg city / 25-mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: 0.33 top up / 0.34 top down.
0 – 60 mph: 4.6 seconds – Max track speed 168 mph electronically limited.
# # #