2002 SC 430 New Car Test Drive
Dismiss the image of conservative car styling from the elite Lexus brand because the new SC 430 confronts that theme by injecting eye-catching curves in a slinky design with a daring face, exaggerated wheels and bubble-back rump.
It's both a refined hardtop coupe and a sporty convertible fitted with a sumptuous leather-wrapped cockpit and the powerful mechanical hardware of a serious performance car.
With a muscular V8 engine shooting 300 horsepower to the rear wheels in a classic arrangement, the sleek SC 430 captures the essence of an aggressive two-seat roadster. Yet it elevates the concept to new dimensions by dressing the package in the elegant Lexus mode of lavish luxury layered with dazzling electronic displays and sophisticated vehicle controls.
Lexus builds only one version of the SC 430 ($58,455). It's loaded with sophisticated safety and performance hardware, then laced with luxurious appointments in leather, wood and chrome. Included is a Mark Levinson audio system with nine custom speakers designed to deliver full-bodied audiophile sound whether the top is up or down.
The sole engine, a four-cam 4.3-liter aluminum V8, produces 300 horsepower and mates to a five-speed automatic transmission with intuitive electronic controls.
Optional equipment is limited to three high-tech items: The Lexus Navigation System ($2,000) triangulates by satellites and coordinates with a DVD-powered data base to plot the vehicle's earthly position and display it on a dash-mounted video screen. Run-flat tires ($400) eliminate the need for hauling a spare tire and thus increase space in the trunk, and a thin spoiler ($440) added to the tail further reduces the car's already slick aerodynamic rating from a 0.31 coefficient of drag to 0.30.
Standard safety equipment includes frontal and side-impact airbags for front seats, four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock brakes (ABS) and traction control (TRAC), vehicle skid control (VSC), even a tire pressure warning system (TPWS).