If you’ve dreamed of fiery, Italian, open-air motoring with fewer rough edges, the Lexus LC 500 Convertible could offer a tremendous ownership experience in Singapore
Photos by Leow Ju-Len, Lionel Kong
The LC 500 Convertible is an Italian car that simply happens to be manufactured by Japan’s premier luxury carmaker.
If you know the Japanese, this isn’t weird at all with the ethos of kaizen. Whiskey, European food, and cars are all things that weren’t founded in Japan, but are now at a world-class level.
Likewise, with Lexus injecting ‘Lexus F’ into its veins over the past decade, it now has a stable of truly exciting cars that are well worth owning. That includes the halo car LFA, and more real-life cars like the RC F and the now-discontinued GS F. But the most desirable Lexus of the now has always been the LC, the brand’s grand touring, 2+2 coupe.
Back in its 2017 debut it really rocked our socks, and made us recalibrate our Lex-pectations further. In 2021 the new drop-top Convertible model does that again, especially since our recollections of previous Lexus drop-tops like the IS-C and SC 430 are a not-particularly-exciting haze.
In 2017 what we said the LC would look just as good roaming the streets of cyberpunk Tokyo as it would old Florence. The LC Convertible continues that with alfresco flair. It doesn’t rock the LC design boat, since it’s already a pretty wild ride, visually, and the car makes the transition to convertible seamlessly.
Muscular proportions, a huge spindle grille, very pointy lights, and weird intersecting lines that only Leuxs could make work well – all of this blends into a sexy coupe that has a possibly extra-valuable aspect for owners in this category: Uniqueness. You won’t find LCs, whether coupe or convertibles, at every stop light. Given the Lexus reputation for quality and reliability, it won’t be a case of rarity due to The Cold Feet Of Excessive Upkeep and Maintenance.
If that uniqueness is all over the skin, it’s matched underneath it too: The LC’s glove-like, monoposto-style cabin is unabashedly that of a sporty, focused car.
In an era of glass cockpits, it’s starting to look old (or old school, if you like) with its buttons and knobs. The Lexus Remote Touch infotainment system feels outdated too, but we actually enjoyed having everything at our fingertips, despite the seat ventilation controls being migrated into the infotainment system. The system now syncs up with your phone via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay too.
The car’s instrument panel is similar to that of the RC’s, with a large, digital dial that moves to the centre in Sport mode. It’s not as slick or sharp as the latest digital panels, but it certainly looks more convincing for a performance car, not to mention dramatic.
And the LC Convertible isn’t lacking in drama, thanks to its vociferous heart. Unlike most cars now, the 5.0-litre V8 is naturally-aspirated, which means it revs faster, roars louder, and is more controllable than a typical turbocharged one.
Turbo engines might usually have more power and torque, but we can’t imagine wanting more than the 470hp the LC’s engine makes. With no turbos stuffing up the pipes, the V8’s sonoros wail is like the call of an exotic, endangered animal. It’s not just thrilling for what it is, but also an increasingly rare noise to come by in the Age of Electrification. You’d have to be jaded indeed to not crack a smile the first time revs peak.
The LC is thrillingly fast on its feet, but not blitzkrieg-nutso fast. This is a GT after all, not a hardcore sports car and the ride/handling matches those expectations. Here the choice of a fabric soft-top comes clear, since a hard-top would have made the car heavier in all the wrong areas.
The LC is not an especially light vehicle, with the Convertible weighing 2,045kg on average. A soft-top also allows more flexibility in deployment – it works at up to 50km/h, and takes 15 seconds.
There’s a little thump from the big wheels and a little more flex than the coupe, as expected, and as a cabriolet you will hear noises you usually wouldn’t in a coupe, but out of Sport or Sport+ mode, it’s decently comfortable and certainly livable in day-to-day driving.
On a practical note, this is obviously not a car for family people. The boot is 149-litres-tiny, while the rear seats are ideal for sentient beings up to a Labrador retriever in size, and even they might chafe after a while.
But anyone is very unlikely to buy this as an only car, you’d buy it for its rarity, its looks, the thrills of the V8 roar and open air motoring. In this, the LC is uniquely thrilling.
The closest competition is Maserati’s GranCabrio with its thrilling 4.7-litre V8, but it’s a car that’s showing its age in all areas, and simply can’t match the Lexus in quality.
On the German front, BMW’s larger 8 Series Convertible is sexy in its own, more brutish fashion and it also offers a V8, albeit turbo one with more power and a less exciting soundtrack. And there’s always the classic Porsche’s 911 Cabrio or Targa, though they’d both be above S$600k with COE or options. If you want to go really left-of-centre then there’s even Morgan’s Plus 4 roadster.
But as modern 2+2 drop tops go, the Lexus LC Convertible presents an attractive proposition of thrilling Euro-style GT motoring as made by Japan’s best luxury brand and all the positives that come with.
|Power||470hp at 7100rpm|
|Torque||540Nm at 4800rpm|
|VES Band||C2 / +S$20,000|
|Price||S$572,800 with COE and VES|
|Verdict||Bravissimo! Italian-style open-air V8 experience, except Lexus-fied|