LOS ANGELES — Usually when a convertible version of an existing car is introduced, the reveal story generally goes something like, "It's the same, but the roof has been removed, it goes down in XX seconds, there's less structural rigidity and it weighs XXX more pounds. That's it, carry on."
With the 2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible, there was actually a surprising amount done to create the drop-top version and make sure it's as compelling as its existing coupe sibling.
But before we get to that, make sure to take a moment to admire how pretty the LC 500 Convertible is. Or, perhaps, a second moment. The car you see here is painted Structural Blue and features a stunning Santorini-esque white-and-blue interior. That this combo will be limited to a mere 100 units as a special-edition Inspiration Series is an absolute crime. My goodness it's beautiful.
OK, the Convertible transformation. Lexus improved chassis rigidity by adding, reshaping and/or relocating structural braces, including the rear suspension brace tower. To counter this, weight is reduced at the rear by using a die-cast aluminum suspension brace, and a unique dampener used to ensure comparable ride quality as the coupe. Unsprung weight at the front suspension was also reduced. In total, only 217 total pounds were added for the convertible over the 2019 LC 500 coupe.
The new soft-top has four layers, and Lexus says its fabric was selected to make sure that it would stay tight and prevent wrinkling. Excellent sound insulation is promised, but Active Noise Control is also employed, whether the roof is raised or lowered, to further suppress noise. The roof is lowered in 15 seconds and raised in 16. A rigid tonneau cover is employed when the roof is lowered.
Design changes for the convertible include a trunk lip that's been raised slightly and widened. The center brake light is integrated into it – it's normally above the back window. The beltline and rear molding were also reshaped to suppress wind, while a transparent plastic wind deflector is integrated neatly behind the back seat.
Like various Mercedes and BMW convertibles, a neck-level heater is added for the front seats. They are integrated into the LC's existing "Climate Concierge" that automatically activates the heater or air conditioner, seat heating or ventilation, and the heated steering wheel. It'll also automatically blow warm or cold air onto the driver's hands when on the steering wheel. This automatic capability is nice in theory, but it's also basically required given the fact that all of those seat and steering wheel functions are controlled through the convoluted Remote Touch infotainment interface.
Speak of the devil, for 2021, Remote Touch gains standard Android Auto to go along with the existing Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa functionality.
Roof colors are black, Circuit Red and Toasted Caramel. The blue you see in the pictures is one of the Inspiration Series elements – boo. Paint colors are Ultra White, Smokey Granite, Liquid Platinum, Atomic Silver, Obsidian, Caviar, Infrared, Cadmium Orange, Nightfall Mica and the gorgeous Flare Yellow.
In terms of the powertrain, the LC 500 has the same 5.0-liter V8 good for 471 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque as the coupe, coupled to a 10-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive. There will not be an LC 500h Convertible. Besides adding even more weight and problems associated with weight distribution, the folded convertible roof and hybrid battery occupy the same space in the car. It wouldn’t be impossible, but the overhaul would need to be even more substantial, and cargo space would also most likely be reduced to nill. As it is, the trunk is just 4.7 cubic feet.
The 2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible goes on sale next summer.