Top down, wind in the hair, sunset blazing and the sweet symphony that is a masterful, naturally aspirated V8 engine. For the 2021 model year, Lexus has finally given us a drop-top grand touring car. Is it expensive? Yes. Is it fast? Quick but not fast. Why does it cost so much then? Let’s check that out.
The first time I reviewed the LC500, I was a bit amiss as to its intended purpose. As a pure sports car, it doesn’t measure up. It’s heavy, (our convertible test car was roughly 4,500lbs), only does 0-60 in roughly 4.5 seconds. However, once you find its greatness as a grand touring coupe, you’ll settle into a very rewarding driving experience.
There’s no question that the LC500, especially in this convertible version, has some of the boldest body lines in the automotive world today. From its “infinity tail lights” to the best interpretation of Lexus’ hallmark spindle grill to date, all of its body lines look assertive, bold and unique.
Lexus slaps on some gorgeous 20-inch wheels that are outfitted with some meaty 275/35R/21 tires in the back and 245/40R21 tires up front. Braking chores are nicely handled by its massive six-piston monoblock aluminum calipers with 15.7-inch discs up front and a four-piston system with 14.1-inch calipers in back.
Our test vehicle was the gorgeous “infrared” color with “toasted caramel” leather interior. This color combination turned heads just about everywhere we went. One on-looker said: “God, that color looks delicious, like you can just bite right into it”. We agreed.
One of the things that makes the LC500 so special is that it uses one of the few naturally aspirated V8 engines still in production. This 5.0 liter V8 of love churns out 471 horsepower and 398lb-ft of torque at 4,800rpm. Its 7,200 rpm redline is spectacular, even when its rev-limiter kicks in and alerts you that you need to shift.
The fast-shifting 10-speed automatic makes short work of grabbing the right gear and features a manual mode with magnesium paddle-shifters, that won’t do forced shifts at redline. Even though it’s not a dual-clutch, it’s a great fit for the V8. For those keeping score, the EPA gives the LC 500 convertible a rating of 15 miles per gallon around town and up to 25 on the highway. On our extended road trip in this car, we averaged 26.5 — pretty good, all things considered.
Slip inside and you’ll find what is easily one of the best-looking interiors around. The quality of the materials is hard to overstate. From the judicious use of carbon fiber to the Nappa leather that greets your nose as you take a seat. Everything in this car feels and looks exquisite. Most everything feels expensive and the overall color scheme along with its fit and finish, simply scream high-end.
There is one element in here that doesn’t feel expensive or high-end and that’s the dreaded touch-pad interface that controls the car’s infotainment system. While a bit better than the mouse version, It’s a never-ending cause of frustration for most anyone who has tried to use it. Unlike more modern versions of a touchpad that use a 1-to-1 ratio, Lexus’ touchpad never seems to go where you want it to.
At least the sound quality is very good, thanks to Lexus’ continued partnership with high-end audio pioneer, Mark Levinson. It harnesses the power of a 918-watt, 11-channel amplifier that feeds 13 speakers, setup in a 7.1 channel format.
Audio sources include AM/FM, XM Satellite, Bluetooth Audio and even a CD player. Do folks still use CDs these days? Its onboard navigation system works rather well with the voice commands, however, you’ll likely opt for either the supported Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
You’ll find both front seats offer superior comfort and are highly adjustable to suit your unique tastes. You can opt to have them heat or cool and there’s a heater vent at the base of the headrest you can enable for those cooler days you have the top down. As far as the rear seats go. Let’s simply say that you’re better off to simply think of it as extra storage for whatever won’t fit in the trunk.
On the road:
On the road, the LC 500 convertible doesn’t feel like an extremely heavy car. The steering is decently dampened in Sport+ mode, however, we’d like to see it even more so. You’ll find that it has little problems taking on the toughest hair-pin corners and delivers a fun, bold driving experience. In fact, the V8 acts as if it’s taunting you to push it harder. And of course you will.
Put the top down and listen to that V8 emit beautiful sounds of spitting, anger and popping during downshifts. Sure you can hear most of this with the top up, but once you experience toplessness, it’s hard to go back.
To put into words what this car is like to drive doesn’t do the full experience justice. Yes there are faster cars for less money and yes there are others that even offer better handling. But you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more exhilarating driving experience that Lexus has expertly achieved in its 2021 LC 500 convertible.
- Car Coach Rating:
- Performance: 9
- Handling: 8
- Safety: 10
- Features: 9
- Design: 10
- Quality: 9
- Value: 8
- Seating Comfort: 10
- Visibility: 8
- Technology: 9
- Car Coach Total: 90