Odds are you’re working from home now, and possibly for the rest of your career.
So, if you’re looking for a new car, why would you choose something practical? The automotive market is filled with practical SUVs and crossovers, many with all the lust factor of a shipping container, which they resemble, albeit with running boards, skid plates, a bit of chrome, and a name that suggests off-road adventures. Yawn.
That’s what makes the 2021 Lexus LC Convertible the perfect conveyance for those who must maintain proper social distancing while requiring the latest in fashionable automotive couture. Its siren song is hard to resist.
The LC 500 Convertible is the spiritual successor to the second-generation SC, a stumpy hardtop convertible coupe that was suitably upscale and yet somehow missed the mark. After eight years, it departed in 2010.
Like the LC 500 Coupe, which arrived for 2018, the LC 500 Convertible’s proportions are long, lean and muscular, like that of a traditional rear-wheel-drive convertible. Its looks are anything but conventional. The LC’s styling avoids the SC’s classically quiet elegance for a kinetic, knife-edged sensuality that’s akin to industrial origami, a manifestation that is unambiguously Lexus.
The LC also shuns the SC’s hardtop.
“We needed to have a really unique profile view of the convertible that was as attractive as a coupe,” said Carlos Trevino, senior analyst, Lexus product marketing during a Lexus press conference earlier this week, talking about the Convertible’s roofline, which differs from the Coupe. “The goal for the designer was to make a convertible profile that was attractive as a coupe.”
All LCs are built using Lexus’s new GA-L (global architecture for luxury) platform, a front-engine, rear-wheel drive and powered by a normally aspirated 5.0-liter V-8 matched to a 10-speed automatic transmission with magnesium paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel that allow for manual shifting, should you feel the need. But unlike the Coupe, no hybrid driveline will be offered on the Convertible as the top eats into space normally reserved for the hybrid system.
There is, however, a boatload of driver-assistance systems that are too numerous to list.
Yet for a brand that built its business crafting cars that are supremely boring, the LC 500 Convertible is a hoot-and-a-half to drive. From the moment you hear its throaty exhaust, you know you’re in something special. As the revs rise and the gearbox works through its 10 speeds, the suspension filters out the worst road irregularities while effortlessly handling the worst that America’s crumbling infrastructure can throw at it. A knob on the center console adjusts the vehicle’s behavior to cruise normally, or do so with a more athletic response when placed in Sport mode. This means that when you toss the LC 500 Convertible into a corner, it keeps its composure unless you push too hard, whereupon the suspension’s underlying softness makes itself felt and the tail gets light. It’s a reminder that this is still, at heart, a grand touring car, not a sports car.
And that’s how it should be; this is a Lexus.
Putting the power to the street is a MacPherson strut front suspension with two lower arms, and multi-link rear suspension with rear stabilizer bar and adaptive dampers at all four corners. Interestingly, even though it shares its suspension with the LS sedan, it uses a different design because it doesn’t have to deal with rear seat occupants, as in the LS. While there is a back seat in the LC, it’s more a padded parcel shelf than true accommodations for humans. It can also augment the infinitesimal trunk, and its 3.4 cubic feet of space.
OK, practicality is not this vehicle’s purpose; it’s about going fast, tackling the tarmac with the wind in your hair, and looking good while doing it. And for the record, putting the top down takes a mere 15 seconds, putting it up takes 16.
Better yet, keeping in touch with digital life is a snap with the LC’s high-resolution 10.3-inch screen with navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, and a host of Lexus Enform apps. There are also two USB ports, a 12-volt outlet and a 13-speaker, 915-watt Mark Levinson audio system that optimizes sound to suit when the roof is up or down. Unfortunately, the infotainment system is far too cumbersome. Accessed through a finicky touchpad, there are simply too many steps and menus to do something simple like turn on a ventilated seat.
But such quibbles are just that, for this is a giant slab of style that sets itself apart from more mundane machinery. In another era, it might have been called a personal luxury coupe.
Regardless, you’ll want to banish your box for one simple reason: The 2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible is the hottest new droptop on the market.