I like indulgent luxury, especially when it’s in the shape of a world-class cruiser like the 2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible. I mean, who wouldn’t want to spend time in a car like this, it’s brimming with character and an absolute motoring treat.
We already tested the excellent fixed-roof coupe and I loved it so lopping the top off one of the best-looking cars around should be a no-brainer, and it was indeed. The LC 500 Convertible is stunning to look at from all angles, top-up or down, which incidentally can be raised or lowered on the move, at speeds of up to 31 miles per hour.
Lowering the roof is a treat in itself as it performs a seductive ballet of twirling and swinging to lay flat in a rapid 15 seconds. That’s all good if you can find the switch since Lexus has craftily hidden it under a tiny, leather-covered lid on the center console that tilts up with a flick of one finger. Where are the machine guns Q?
For the 2021 model year, all LCs get revised suspension settings, roof, or not. Chopping the top has increased the weight by a couple of hundred pounds but it’s not enough to dampen the fun at all. In fact, with the roof down it adds to the aural pleasure by a huge factor. While the tin-top sounded great, the Convertible sounds majestic.
How was my tester optioned?
My 2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible tester arrived bathed in Infra-Red paint with a contrasting Burnt Caramel interior and the black roof option. This combination and the roof down had passers-by staring and taking photos. My tester had several options checked including the Touring Package for $5,290, which offers:
- SEMI-ANILINE LEATHER-TRIMMED FRONT SEATS
- CLIMATE CONCIERGE WITH UPPER BODY HEATING
- MARK LEVINSON®* 13-SPEAKER, 915-WATT REFERENCE SURROUND SOUND AUDIO SYSTEM
- HEATED LEATHER-TRIMMED STEERING WHEEL
- WINDSHIELD WIPER DE-ICER
- EMBOSSED HEADRESTS
Also optioned were some superb 21-inch Forged Wheels, a Head-Up Display, Limited Slip Differential complimenting the Active Exhaust, and Special Paint taking the out the door cost to $111,920. Considering the competition that’s a relative bargain!
What’s under the hood?
For sure there are faster cars out there for this price, but none really look as good as the LC 500 Convertible and they sure don’t have what’s under the hood. Powering this beast is a naturally aspirated 471-hp 5.0-liter V-8 which revs to 7,100 rpm and delivers 398 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm through a super quick 10-speed automatic, which is a triumph.
The LC 500 has an ultra-rigid, steel chassis underpinning a body made from aluminum and composite panels but take the top off and you lose a lot of this rigidity. Lexus’s engineers have managed to work some magic with the convertible in that the overall experience is virtually the same. Yes, it’s a bit heavier and a bit less precise but with the roof off you get an even better experience that makes up for this. Even with the roof on it’s almost as quiet inside and the coupe.
The extra mass doesn’t dampen the overall driving experience, but it is noticeable when pressing on in tighter turns. My tester was shod with Michelin Pilot Super Sports, so grip is plentiful, and the excellent traction control keeps it all in check.
Starting the LC 500 Convertible was a joy every morning, so much so I made every excuse to drive it. The rumbling V8 barks to life and settles down to a slightly uneven idle, all programmed in of course. There are several driving modes to choose from: Eco, Comfort, Normal, Custom, Sport, and Sport+ all controlled by the right-hand controller on the main instrument cluster. I spent all my time in Sport + mode and paid for it heavily at the pump maintaining an average of 11.9 mpg for the week.
The plus side of Sport + is a truly engaging driving experience, once you get out of town and push your right foot into the carpet, the car seems to know you’re up for some from. The transmission holds the gears in the engine’s torque sweet spot, the exhaust bellows and the transmission snaps off lightning-quick shifts. I had a hard time wiping the stupid grin off my face. This is arguably the best sounding V8 on the market.
In the turns it feels crisp and poised, the adjustable dampers play their part here and even if you leave the car in the firmest setting as I did, it soaks up lumpy pavement while keeping the body level in corners. It’s definitely more of a GT car than the coupe and less of a hunkered-down sports car, which is just fine by me.
It’s just so much of an event even during the most mundane of errands while playing the most gripping soundtrack from the exhaust. I don’t think I listened to any music all week. Steering is direct with good feedback and the brakes provided excellent stopping power from some serious speeds, time and time again.
Is it loud?
If you want to drive to the shops in the most aggressive snarling manner possible, simply turn the knob on the right of the instrument cluster to Sport +, lower the roof and engage the paddle shifters. To achieve the most ferocious sounds hold the gear until over 5,000 rpm and soak it all in, which by the way., is completely authentic. The Active Exhaust snarls and crackles like a mini LFA and pedestrians will turn heads to see what’s making the noise.
Turn the knob to Comfort, however, and the Adaptive dampers get more supply, the engine note purrs like a kitten, and you can waft along quieter than a church mouse.
Adding to the overall pleasure is the power goes to the rear wheels only. With our test gear strapped on and after several launches, we got the 0-60 time down to 4.6 seconds….a couple of tenths slower than the LC 500 Coupe.
The interior is very typical Lexus, sculptured dash architecture, and very solid build quality, everything looks and feels luxurious, you would be hard-pressed to find anything as complex, detailed, and well-finished for double the price. Seats are massively comfortably and grippy, the seat bolsters hold you in well, and you sit low, legs out in front, like a race car.
Most instruments work well except for the Lexus’s Enform infotainment system and its clunky Remote Touchpad controller. It makes sense to make changes in your driveway before you set off, it takes a bit too much effort and it’s distracting while on the move.
There are back seats but unless you’re a contortionist they are not really usable and the trunk space is quite small and as one of my colleagues pointed out, not enough room for a set of golf clubs. Luckily I hate golf.
Standard equipment includes standard automated emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beams, and lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist.
The LC Convertible is a very, very good convertible, the naturally aspirated V8 is superb, it has a super quick 10-speed transmission, it looks like a million dollars and is one of my favorite cars of all time, it’s so much fun. Seriously go and buy one!
2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible
BASE PRICE: $101,,000
AS TESTED PRICE: $111,920
VEHICLE LAYOUT: Front-engine, RWD, 4-passenger, 2-door convertible
ENGINE: DOHC 32-valve Atkinson-capable 5.0-liter V-8
POWER: 471 HP @ 7,100 rpm
TORQUE: 398 ft-lb @ 4,800 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 10-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
0-60 MPH: 4.6 sec
TOP SPEED: 168 mph
CURB WEIGHT: 4,500 lb
CARGO VOLUME: 5 cu. ft.
WHEELS: 21 inch split 5-spoke forged alloy wheels
TIRES: Michelin Pilot Super Sport: Front 245/40, Rear 275/35
EPA FUEL ECONOMY: CITY/HWY/COMB: 15/25/18 mpg
OUR OBSERVED FUEL ECONOMY: 10.5 MPG
PROS: Stunning exterior, glorious engine note, sport mode is a hoot, high revving V8 joy
CONS: It’s gained a bit of weight, not quite as precise as the coupe
2021 Lexus LC Convertible Review – Pure Magnificence