Is it a sin to appreciate sensual curves? To fall victim to a throaty purr? To find comfort in a warm embrace? Does taking the top off an already beautiful body only enhance its appeal? Having just spent three days with the Lexus LC500 Convertible, the answer is unquestionably, yes.
What did you think I was talking about?
As much as I have enjoyed my time spent driving and looking at the LC500 coupe, this is the ultimate version of this car. It is indulgent and decadent and satisfying in a way cars costing far more don’t achieve.
It begins of course with the design. There is no love at first sight if first sight isn’t absolutely stunning. The lines flow effortlessly from front to rear beginning with an impossibly low hood, given that it hides a 5-liter V8 engine and must allow enough travel for the 21-inch wheels. They rise slightly through the doors and then flatten on the rear deck, a significant change from the coupe to accommodate the mechanism for the convertible top. Yes it still wears the Lexus signature spindle grill. And while I wouldn’t say its growing on me, it works here in a way that it doesn’t on the brand’s more ubiquitous SUVs.
Inside, the LC500 Convertible didn’t need much improvement from the coupe. From a design, material, fit, and finish standpoint this is one of the best interiors available today. The only change from the coupe is the slick hidden switch in the center console to operate the top. Just flip the lid in front of the arm rest, pull the toggle and in about 15 seconds you’ll be basking in the rays of the warm summer sun, an operation you can perform at speeds of up to 31 miles per hour.
The seats on my test car were not only delightfully comfortable and supportive, but heated and ventilated. An added feature to the LC500 Convertible’s seats is a neck heater. That’s something we’d appreciate here in Wisconsin where sunny and 40°F is acceptable top down driving weather. With all these possible adjustments, Lexus developed the Climate Concierge system that automatically adjusts the air conditioner, seat heaters, neck heaters and steering-wheel heater to ensure the cabin is comfortable whatever the weather. The HVAC system is even optimized to send warm or cold air to the back of the driver’s hands when gripping the steering wheel.
All the technology you want is there. Lexus includes its apps in its Enform suite, but Lexus has finally integrated Apple CarPlay and Android Auto into its system allowing you to use your phone for music, navigation, and other approved apps. The Mark Levinson audio system – already one of the best in the premium field – adds automatic EQ adjustments to adapt the sound to whether the top is open or closed.
Press the button to fire up the LC500 Convertible’s naturally aspirated 5-liter V8 and you won’t really care about the in-car audio system. The all-aluminum powerplant purrs at idle, then growls, snaps, and crackles appropriately as you manipulate the throttle with your right foot. Slip the 10-speed automatic into gear and you’re treated to a 0-60 MPH acceleration time of just 4.6 seconds. Around town, the Lexus is easy to drive and comfortable in normal mode. The engine isn’t incredibly torquey, so at low RPMs it feels a little lethargic. The suspension has been adapted to meet the demands of the extra weight and bracing added throughout the chassis reduces flex and vibration to imperceptible levels.
On the open road with the top down, the paddle shifters engaged, sport mode activated, and the engine spinning around 3,000 RPM the LC500 Convertible comes alive. In both coupe and convertible configurations, this is a car that doesn’t get the credit it deserves for its performance and handling. Maybe it’s because it of its stunning good looks, the fact that it weighs more than droptops from BMW and Mercedes-Benz, or that it’s a Lexus, but people don’t expect the LC500 to be as satisfying a driver as it is. I’ve pushed the coupe on the track and at tire-screaming speeds on Tail of the Dragon and even with it’s extra bulk, the LC is a great performance platform whether the top is fixed or cloth.
At $110,000 the LC500 Convertible isn’t cheap, but it’s a rare treat that satisfies on so many levels. Some may buy it just for its looks. Others for the looks they’ll get when someone sees them behind the wheel. And if that’s makes you happy, then fine. But those who take it out on their favorite winding road and let it stretch its long athletic legs, will find a whole other level of satisfaction that makes it worth every penny.
2021 Lexus LC500 Convertible
2-door, 2+2 luxury convertible
Base price: $101,000
Price as tested: $111,325
Major options: 21-inch forged wheels ($2,650), Head-up display ($900), Limited slip differential ($460), Touring Package includes Heated, leather-trimmed steering wheel, semi-aniline leather-trimmed front seats, climate concierge with upper body heating, Mark Levinson premium audio, embossed headrests ($5,290), destination charges ($1,025)
Engine: 5.0-liter, 32-valve, double overhead cam V8, aluminum block and cylinder heads with variable valve timing
Transmission: 10-speed automatic with manual mode and steering wheel mounted paddle shifters
Power: 471 Horsepower at 7,100 RPM
Torque: 398 pound-feet at 4,800 RPM
Curb weight: 4,540 pounds
0-60 MPH: 4.6 seconds
Top speed: 168 MPH electronically limited
EPA MPG: 15 city, 25 highway, 18 combined