Behind the R2.3-million price tag of the new Lexus LC 500 Convertible sits a competent convertible grand tourer with a pulsating V8.
I got behind the wheel of one – this is what it was like.
Exciting and emotional
The LC 500 Coupe has never been a volume seller, and I don’t expect to see many LC 500 Convertibles on the road, either.
But given the wide-open spaces and beautiful road network outside of the main cities, the LC 500 Convertible is a brilliant traveling partner to explore the country – which I had the opportunity to do in beautiful Mpumalanga.
Roof up, or down, this Lexus is good.
The company went to great lengths to maintain the coupe’s lines without turning the Convertible into a slab-sided monolith.
The Lexus design language and elements have carried over beautifully into its pinnacle sports car, and no matter what angle it is viewed from or what surface is seen, it’s unmistakably premium.
There are gloss finishes, beautiful lights, smatterings of exposed carbon fibre, and even the pop-out door handles have small Lexus logos on them.
It, therefore, has the BMW M850i x-Drive Convertible firmly in its crosshairs.
Although the BMW is flashy and powerful, the Lexus easily draws more attention and evokes a feeling that usually costs a lot more to get.
Prodding the starter button then primes the naturally-aspirated, 351kW, 5.0-litre, V8 engine which barks to life and then settles into a comfortable idle. It’s not obnoxious, but it is intended.
The engine can be schizophrenic if needs be, gentle when cruising, and beastly when the environment allows.
Where Lexus excels, though, is in the comfort its cars provide – and it’s no different in the LC 500 Convertible.
Despite the massive 21-inch wheels and stiffened sports car chassis, the LC 500 Convertible never crashes over road imperfections and soaks up almost every minor bump without leaving a cringe on the driver’s face.
I inched over a verge or two while entering and exiting roads – expecting the underbelly to scrape – but this never happened and the ride was a marvel.
The boot will also swallow up one medium-sized hard-shell suitcase or two carry-ons and a backpack, which is not bad.
If the owner wants to take it to a golf club, their clubs must then find a space behind the front seats.
I say front seats because, yes, there are two rear seats. I find it hard to imagine a grown adult sitting back there, however, which means the rear bench is mainly used as a parcel shelf.
Back to the driving: with about 200km behind the wheel exploring beautiful parts of South Africa, I was impressed at just how versatile the LC 500 Convertible is.
You can use one to take a leisurely drive to the shops or tackle a long-range cruise without worrying about reliability or comfort.
It can, in my opinion, be a special-occasion car or a reliable daily driver.
Another highlight of the car is the active noise cancellation and climate concierge systems.
Lexus uses microphones and speakers, and a small wind deflector, to remove the outside noise and wind-buffeting – even with the roof down.
The “climate concierge” then maintains a comfortable cabin by using a range of clever sensors and vents that continually alter the heating and cooling patterns inside the car.
The air vents were even specially designed to keep your knuckles around the backside of the steering wheel warm on cold days.
The Lexus LC 500 Convertible is built to drive – fast or slow – and is as comfortable and luxurious as any of its competitors.
This includes expensive grand tourers from Aston Martin, BMW, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche.
To the average person, R2.3 million is a lot of money – but against the alternatives in the same league, the Lexus is a solid choice.
It looks like a car that’s far more expensive than it is, delivers an excellent driving experience, and will likely be reliable and affordable to maintain long-term.
After all, it is a Toyota.