A magnificent luxury tourer that could easily take you around the world and back.
I was immediately impressed as the Lexus LC500 Convertible was delivered to my door. It is more impressive, imposing and distinguished than in the images, with its own unique chutzpah.
A worthy successor to the LFA supercar that is now commanding a lot more interest than it did when launched. Some cars need time to be appreciated, often the sign of a labour of love.
The Lexus LC500 is a homage to grand tourers, perhaps the last of the great V8 petrol tourers ever. It is more than worthy. The CEO of Lexus, Akio Tokada, blatantly wanted to make a personal statement. To show the world that Lexus could make a tourer with its own style indelibly stamped throughout, yet worthy to belong in any collector’s garage with the greats.
You get a naturally aspirated 5.0 litre V8 with 457 bhp that revs up to 7,300 rpm. Paired with a direct shift 10-speed automatic transmission. O-62 mph in the convertible is 5 secs.
The rear is muscular and tapers to the front, with an arched fluted midsection that suggests it is impatient to launch. Side on it appears even more eager to spring forward as the lines decline gently front to back. It is undeniably gorgeous with the roof up or down.
The windscreen is set racing low, flowing organically back from the powerful, long bonnet. The hourglass grille is as menacing as ever and the front and backlights are razor-sharp, a homage to the katana or samurai sword.
Chief Designer Tadao Mori went to great lengths to create a convertible that looked as good as the coupe. The roof is set as far back as possible to maintain the desired silhouette. Low too, to keep the profile tight and distinctive whilst folding in such a way that most of the boot space is conserved at 149 litres. Most folding roofs are expected to last ten years, but Lexus pushed this to 24 years.
Three soft top colours are available: Marine Blue (Regatta Edition exclusive), Ochre and Black, though the UK Regatta Edition sold out instantly. The multilayered soft top guarantees the cabin is silent and vibration-free for a luxury environment and opens or closes in 15 seconds.
This attention to detail, quality and durability is consistent throughout the car. It compares favourably to brands at twice the price.
The entire body, including the under carriage, has been streamlined and smooth finished to improve stability. A golden ratio of proportions, the drivers hip is set at the exact midpoint to improve vehicle behaviour feedback.
The 21-inch forged alloy wheels complete the butch, sharp but subtle road presence.
First thing you notice is the seats move electrically to accommodate your insertion. Then it's the sheer style and design of the cabin. The overall luxury is impeccable. Again what comes across is the attention to detail and a very high level of quality in all the materials, finishes and ergonomics. You are hermetically sealed off in the cabin and experience premium cosseting.
I loved the red and grey textured leather seats with white contrast stitching that grip firmly whilst supporting the back. The stitch lines curve down and around the seats, flowing out and expanding inside the doors. The passenger seat has its own tub with twin handles, that melds beautifully into the dashboard. The sharp lines of the dash recess and jut out with gorgeous curves, blending aluminium and leather to great effect. A simple analogue clock completes the alluring interior.
It does take a little time to love the trackpad screen controls, but you get more skilful with practice. Plus you get a 10.3-inch screen with CarPlay and Android as standard.
A microphone in the driver's headrest monitors for cabin noise and adjusts accordingly. This detail tells you a lot about the car. Active Noise Control is used to “clean” the sound frequencies to further your aural comfort. This emits anti-pulse sounds through the audio speakers which counteract any unwelcome low-frequency booming sound from the engine and drivetrain.
It's the little things, the interior roof lights switch on with a light touch, a nice erm, touch.
The back seats are purely decorative, or for luggage, though you could get a couple of teenagers in there for a short journey.
It's rear-wheel drive with lots of lovely torque, and you can spin the back wheels with ESP off, if that floats your boat, it certainly did mine.
The torque converter gearbox is fast and smooth in automatic. The ten gears are evenly spaced and in normal driving keep the revs low for better economy, supplying a gentle luxury ride. Stay in Eco or Comfort mode for long journeys. The car even uses AI that analyses your driving to select the optimum gear. You can shift manually with paddles, but honestly, with ten gears it's pretty pointless. You're better off using Sports or Sports+ mode. Then the engine sound is golden, amplified by the speakers, a rumbling, growling soundtrack that enhances the experience without drowning out even the lightest conversation.
The weight distribution is extremely low and you feel that when cornering. Stability is superb in forward acceleration, braking and cornering. The car knows the direction of force and the suspension compensates effortlessly to minimise roll, yaw and pitch, so you are always level. You notice it when you turn corners at speed, the car stays flat as if by magic. A massive boost of confidence and vital for a genuine luxury experience. There is even a readout on the dash, showing the momentum and lateral force.
The Sport+ pack includes Torsen limited-slip differential which helps counteract under or oversteer and rear-wheel steer. Over the worst roads, The Lexus gives you almost Rolls smoothness. The Takumi who test the car seems to be aware of the potholed condition of English roads.
Braking is flawless, linear and powerful, aided by the suspension, so even an emergency stop is comfortable.
Safety-wise, well, it's a Lexus so it includes the kitchen sink of technology as standard: Pre-Collision System, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane-Keep Assist with Lane Departure Alert, Automatic High Beam and Road Sign Assist. Furthermore, the LC500 is fitted with an active roll bar system comprising two individual bars that automatically deploy from beneath the rear parcel shelf if a high risk of a roll-over accident is detected.
The price may be a sticking point at first glance. There are so many terrific cars at this level. However few combine the same performance with such luxury and most importantly of all, such class beating build quality. The Lexus LC500 Convertible competes with cars in a much higher price bracket, supplying style, long-distance performance, reliability and terrific value. It's a grand tourer, not a sports car, and without question a legendary one. The car should have been named after Saigō Takamori, the last true samurai. A Gentleman's luxury tourer through and through.
Oh, and the sound to play through the 17-Speaker Mark Levinson® sound system (optional)
in a pearl white Lexus LC500 with the roof down is “Staying Alive” by the Beegees.
LC Convertible Sport Plus Pack from £96,625