2021 Lexus LC500 Convertible
Just when we thought it can’t get better than the LC500 Coupe, Lexus dropped the LC500 Convertibleby Tudor Rus, on
Freshly launched at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show, the Lexus LC500 Convertible borrows every stunning feature from its Coupe brother and then adds some more appeal courtesy of a retractable textile roof.
The LC500 Convertible still packs the naturally-aspirated, 471-horsepower V-8, however, a hybrid version hasn’t been announced yet. Join us as we explore the new LC500 Convertible in-depth, to see what’s new for the sleek cabriolet.
2021 Lexus LC500 Convertible
Horsepower @ RPM:471
Torque @ RPM:398
- retractable soft top
- similar cabin design to the LC500 Coupe
- long, muscular hood
- Lexus mesh-design spindle grille
- higher trunk profile
- wider rear profile
- brake light integrated into the trunk lid
Viewed from the front, the 2021 Lexus LC500 Convertible is identical to its Coupe brethren. It wears the same Lexus spindle grille with the familiar mesh design flanked by the dramatically-designed headlights. Below them, Lexus kept the signature LED daytime running lights, just as it kept the vertical, slot-like air vents on either end of the front bumper. The hood is still low, long, and muscular without sporting too many creases. Fluidity was still a paramount requirement for the LC500 Convertible and Lexus’ designers didn’t alter that, not one bit.
As we move on to the sides, the LC500 Convertible starts to show its true character. For the record, it uses a folding fabric roof instead of a hardtop, which is stored by means of an innovative folding mechanism under a tonneau cover whenever the driver wants to experience open-air driving. Lexus says the addition of the soft top hasn’t harmed trunk and cabin space too much, but we’ll get to that in the next section.
More importantly, the addition of the soft top came with its own set of changes brought to the rear.
For example, the trunk profile is a tad higher than the Coupe’s, and the surface of the rear spoiler has been stretched towards the sides to create the impression of a lower and wider stance. Lastly, the center brake light was integrated into the trunk lid, as opposed to the LC500 Coupe, where it was mounted on top of the rear windshield.
Coming back to the fabric roof, Lexus tells us that it was “designed to retain the flowing roofline of the coupe without the supporting frame visible through the fabric.” It can be opened in 15 seconds and closed in 16, at speeds of up to 31 miles per hour, while the fabric is available in two colors: black or beige. Lexus will also offer an Inspiration Series-badged LC500 Convertible limited to just 100 units; this special model comes with a blue top, gray trim elements for the headlamps, side intakes, and tail lamps, as well as standard 21-inch wheels finished in chrome and black.
As far a size is concerned, the 2021 LC500 Convertible is 187.4 inches long, 75.9 inches wide, and 53.1 inches tall. Wheelbase comes in at 112.9 inches. Compared to the LC500 Coupe, the Convertible is 0.3 inches wider and 0.1 inches taller.
- identical cabin topography to the LC500 Coupe
- Takumi craftsmanship
- single-gauge instrument cluster
- leather treatment throughout the cabin
- seats fitted with neck warmers
- polycarbonate wind deflector
- 10.3-inch multimedia setup
- 5 cu ft of cargo space (est.)
We have no doubt that the interior of the LC500 Coupe is the best ever designed by Lexus. Luckily, the LC500 Convertible adopts the same design and affinity for high-quality materials that comes courtesy of the Takumi creed. The driver interacts visually with the same single-gauge instrument cluster found behind the masterfully crafted steering wheel. The first press photos of the LC500 Convertible showed a full white-and-blue leather treatment for the cabin and we must say that’s what a convertible should be like on the inside. Sure, the white leather is rather high-maintenance, but the visual effect it produces is hard to match.
The gear lever is also unchanged, as is the extra grab handle for the front passenger, and as far as we can tell, the Convertible sports the same seat profiles as the Coupe, which should make for an extremely comfortable ride. But this being a convertible and all, the seats were fitted with neck warmers. We’re also told that Lexus the cabin was tweaked to reduce wind noise via a rear molding.
A polycarbonate wind deflector was also added to the mix, as was what Lexus calls “an available wind screen” that reduces wind buffeting at higher speeds.
The LC500 Convertible also features Active Noise Control, but that’s used solely for cabin insulation purposes and not to boost the engine’s sounds. The latter is, however, amplified via a diaphragm and then into a sound pipe; a similar setup works on the same principle inside the Lexus LFA supercar.
As far as interior space is concerned, Lexus is yet to release official measurements, so until it does, we’ll just refer to the LC500 Coupe’s cabin space coordinates, especially since Lexus says the textile roof doesn’t cram up the cockpit. The LC500 Coupe offers 37.2 inches of headroom in the front and 32.2 inches in the rear - we expect the Convertible to be on par with these figures whenever the top is up. Legroom in the front is 42 inches while those sitting in the back get just 32.5 inches to deal with. Lastly, cargo volume is 5.4 cubic feet, which means the Convertible might offer something in the region of five cubic feet worth of trunk space.
On the tech side, the LC500 Convertible gets the 10.3-inch high-resolution multimedia display integrated in the upper area of the center console.
The unit is compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, allowing access to apps such as Pandora, Google Maps, WhatsApp, Spotify, Audible, and Apple podcasts.
- 5.0-liter naturally-aspirated V-8
- 471 hp
- 398 lb-ft of torque
- Direct-Shift 10-speed auto gearbox
- Top speed: 168 mph
- 0-60 mph: 4.8-5 s (est.)
- no word of a hybrid version
The aim here was for the LC500 Convertible to retain as much driving dynamics as the LC500 Coupe. Obviously, this being an open-top version for the Coupe, extra measures had to be taken to improve chassis stiffness, so Lexus’ engineers had to add and even relocate some structural braces.
The suspension has been retuned, while weight was cut down in the rear section of the cabriolet by using a lightweight die-cast aluminum suspension brace that now words in tandem with a performance dampener for better ride comfort.
Why is this important? Because the mass balance had to be kept at all cost without chipping the car’s rolling attributes. The front-mounted, naturally-aspirated 5.0-liter V-8 is twinned to Lexus’ Direct-Shift 10-speed automatic transmission. Call the powerplant old school for as long as you want, but it’s nothing to play with as it cranks out 471 horsepower at 7,100 rpm and 398 pound-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm, just like inside the LC500 Coupe. Compression ratio is set at 12.3:1 and as far as fuel consumption goes (not that anyone buying a V-8 should actually care about this), the engine returns 16 miles per gallon in the city, 25 miles per gallon on the highway, and 19 miles per gallon combined. Mind you, those are ratings for the LC500 Coupe, as we’re yet to have access to Lexus’ ratings for the LC500 Convertible.
Another bit of information that we don’t get from Lexus for now relates to the LC500 Convertible’s performance figures. However, we know that the LC500 is capable of sprinting from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4.4 seconds and reach a top track speed of 168 miles per hour. Since we’re looking at an identical powertrain setup for both the Coupe and the Convertible, it’s weight that will decide if and to what extend will the Convertible’s performance credentials change.
The Coupe tips the scales at 4,280 pounds (curb weight), while the Convertible comes in at 4,479 pounds. That’s a 199-pound difference in favor of the Coupe, so it could be that the Convertible is, in fact, a bit slower to 60 miles per hour from a standstill.
Lexus is yet to announce official pricing info for the LC500 Convertible. What we can tell you at this point, though, is that the Coupe starts at $92,950 in V-8 guise, while the hybrid version requires at least $97,460. There’s no word on a hybrid LC500 Convertible just yet, so with the V-8 in mind, we expect the open-top LC500 to start at $100,000, or even higher. The LC500 Convertible will go on sale in 2020 for the 2021 model year.
If it wants to make a name of itself, the Lexus LC500 Convertible will have to face a pair of tough opponents, one of which is the S-Class Cabriolet. Stuttgart’s opulent open-top is available in the US of A as the S 560 Cabriolet, which uses a 4.0-liter bi-turbo V-8 cranking out 463 horsepower between 5,250 rpm and 6,000 rpm and 516 pound-feet of torque unlocked in the 2,000-4,000 rpm band. Power and torque are subsequently channeled to the rear wheels through Merc’s 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic transmission, which lets the S 560 sprint from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4.6 seconds. The S 560 Cabriolet starts at $134,000, but it’s not the most expensive open-top S-Class you can get in the U.S.
That’s because Mercedes-AMG will sell you the S 63 Cabriolet ($180,100) and S 65 Cabriolet ($253,550) provided you can come up with the extra cash. On the performance front, the S 63 Cabriolet employs a handcrafted AMG 4.0-liter bi-turbo V-8 good for 603 horsepower between 5,500 rpm and 6,000 rpm and 664 pound-feet of torque at 2,750-4,500 rpm for a 0-60 miles per hour sprint time of 3.4 seconds. The S 65 Cabriolet ups the ante with a monster 6.0-liter bi-turbo V-12 making 621 horsepower between 4,800 and 5,400 rpm and 738 pound-feet of torque at 2,300-4,300 rpm for a 0-60 miles per hour charge ticked in four seconds flat.
Read our full review on the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet
The LC500 Convertible’s other Goliath to beat is none other than BMW’s 8 Series Convertible. BMW offers the open-top 8er in two guises: 840i xDrive ($100,300) and 840i ($97,400). Both use a turbocharged 3.0-liter, inline-six powerplant good for 335 horsepower and 368 pound-feet of torque available from as low as 1,600 rpm. The transmission is an eight-speed unit with Sport and Manual shift modes as well as Launch Control. The RWD 840i needs five seconds flat to reach 60 miles per hour from a standstill on its way to a top speed of 155 miles per hour, while the AWD clears the 0-60 miles per hour bracket in 4.6 seconds. Then there’s the M850i xDrive ($121,400), motivated by a 4.4-liter turbo’ed V-8 with 532 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque on tap. If that’s not enough, then BMW will gladly sell you the full-blown M8 Convertible ($142,500) and M8 Competition Convertible ($155,500). Both versions uses a 4.4-liter M-tuned V-8 that makes 600 horsepower (617 horsepower for the Competition) and lets you accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.1 seconds (three seconds for the Competition).
Read our full review on the BMW 8 Series Convertible
We’d be lying if we told you that we don’t have a soft spot for the 2021 Lexus LC500 Cabriolet. But in the greater economy of the segment it operates in, where customers demand high levels of performance and plushness, the LC500 Cabriolet’s striking exterior design might not be enough, despite the bucketload of comfort you get from the Japanese open top. You see, its competition offers a more generous technology package as well as potent powerplants that equip the performance-oriented versions sitting at the top of their respective lineups. Lexus doesn’t offer such a model for the time being, and perhaps it’s high time it did.