Imagine driving on Route 66 with the air in your hair… But no, in reality I was driving in the Southeast of England in what was possibly the wettest day of the year and I had a smile on my face as I drove the flagship Lexus LC500 Convertible, with the cover up of course! This is a stunning looking member of the Lexus family, a convertible of generous proportions and one which shouts quality at you. The Coupe version first appeared in 2017, to be followed by the Convertible and if I were to choose, then my preference would be with the latter- the best of both worlds.
The new body shape has not compromised the LC’s speed and the glorious naturally aspirated five litre V8 engine (457bhp) and ten speed Direct Shift automatic transmission have the same specifications as in the Coupe. Rest to 100kph (62mph) takes just five seconds and it goes on to a top speed (electronically limited) of 270kph (168mph). In the handling department, the new roof actually makes a positive contribution to the LC’s dynamics. With its lightweight structure, it weighs less than the hard top, which helps give the Convertible a lower centre of gravity than the Coupe. This and the fact that all the roof’s components are located within the car’s wheelbase, is a key factor in the Convertible’s dynamic balance and driving character. The frame of the roof is made from a rare combination of magnesium and aluminium to keep its weight to a minimum without compromising quality or performance.
Lexus is renowned for producing cars that are extremely comfortable and airflow management and air conditioning are revised to ensure comfort when driving with the roof raised or lowered and aerodynamic elements suppress wind buffeting, including a wind deflector and optional wind screen. Something I have experienced many times with soft tops is that wind-in-the-hair feeling that provides you a closer connection to the world around. For me, that is one of the great joys of driving a convertible. In perfect harmony with this feeling is the note of the V8 engine; in my book there is nothing quite like this sound which will disappear more and more as the pure petrol engine is outlawed. A continuous, pulsating sound is characteristic of a naturally aspirated V8 engine and Lexus has applied acoustic technologies to combine this with spectral harmony, perfect sound intervals that are pleasing to the ear, stereophonic sound, to create a depth of sound, and formants acoustic qualities that stir the senses and generate a feel-good factor.
It’s no great surprise in that Lexus has gone to great lengths in creating the LC Convertible to ensure comfort and quality are never compromised when the roof is lowered. The aim was to prevent cold air chilling the lower body, while managing temperature and airflow around the upper body so that occupants can enjoy a refreshing breeze without feeling cold or buffeted. The comfort levels I experienced while driving this Lexus were nothing short of being exceptional.
Even though the LC Convertible has a soft top, Lexus was determined to secure the same kind of cabin quietness as in the Coupe when the roof is raised. Acoustic simulations were produced to determine where dominant noises were entering the space, so that the amount and location of soundproofing and sound-absorbing material could be calculated. The storage area behind the rear seats for the folding roof presented a particular challenge as it was a route for tyre and exhaust noise to enter the cabin. There was not enough room for soundproofing material to be added, so the team looked instead at adapting the trim material itself. By allowing air to pass through the structure and using sound-absorbing material on the reverse, the entire surface of the storage space soaks up noise. As the area is visible and part of the car’s interior, it also had to look good and Lexus assessed many different materials before choosing one usually used for lining the wings around the wheels. The version I tested had twenty one inch forged alloy wheels, semi-aniline leather and integrated neck heaters while options include full colour head-up display, 13-speaker Mark Levinson Premium Surround System and special metallic paint finishes. Lexus also provide the highest level of security and safety systems with their flagship model; one of the finest cars I have driven in recent times.