After its global debut at the 2019 Los Angeles International Auto Show was met with rave reviews, the 2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible is ready for showtime on Lexus dealer lots across the country this summer. Expanding upon the flagship performance of its coupe counterpart, the LC 500 Convertible broadens the LC family with a stunning, eye-catching design and its own luxurious handling characteristics designed to take top-down driving to the next level.
The LC 500 Convertible may be based in part on the LC 500 coupe, but it is no mere crop-topped replica. Considerable driving evaluation and analysis went into crafting unique driving qualities that give the vehicle its own athletic identity to offer impressive performance that remains true to its convertible design.
Enhancing structural rigidity was high on the list of objectives. Engineers went to work crafting an all-new torsion box at the rear, which, when paired with a new suspension tower brace and V-brace, help provide enhanced rigidity, handling stability and linear responsiveness. Chassis rigidity is further enhanced with the relocation of various structural braces, which includes additional gusseting at the bottom of both the A and B pillars. Laser Screw Welding and the use of high-tensile-strength steel through the structure also aids in chassis reinforcement.
Careful attention was given to the LC Convertible’s suspension, which is tuned specifically to complement the subtle changes in weight between the coupe and convertible. From its dampers and coils, to its bushings and the unique Yamaha Performance damper placed transversely at the rear, the Convertible’s specially-designed components are designed to help ensure comfortable, yet sharp, road-going performance. A reduction of un-sprung weight in the front suspension improves the overall stroke, and weight is also reduced in the rear with the use of lightweight die-cast aluminum for the construction of the suspension tower brace.
The tuning of the Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) is optimized to complement the convertible as well. The AVS system continually adjusts damping control in response to driving operation and road surface conditions, with the ability to adjust to an impressive 650 different levels of damping force. The AVS system has also been relocated compared to the previous model year coupe, as it no longer resides at the top of the absorber and is now mounted to the lower side of the shock absorber body below the spring.
The LC 500 Convertible comes standard with 20-inch cast alloy wheels and 20-inch forged wheels are also available. The option to upgrade to large-diameter 21-inch forged wheels is available as well. Run-flat tires are employed at all four corners to eliminate the need for a spare tire, which, in turn, allows engineers to shorten the rear overhang and save additional weight by foregoing a spare.
Cream of the Crop Top
The LC Convertible’s soft-top design allowed engineers to focus on accentuating the sleek lines of the convertible without significant intrusions to the trunk and cabin space that can come with a heavier, bulkier hard top. It features an innovative folding mechanism that includes a tonneau cover for when it is stored. The coupe’s curves are accentuated with the silhouette of the convertible in a way that only Japanese design can imbue. Even the smooth roof movement is inspired by the three-step movement of Japanese calligraphy: ink brush to paper; movement to the right; the stopping of the ink brush.
The roof can be opened or closed at speeds up to 31 mph. An animated display on the instrumentation panel shows the top’s progress, and it also provide warning messages to confirm the status of the soft top roof. One of the most impressive aspects is the time it takes: approximately 15 seconds to open and approximately 16 seconds to close, depending upon environmental factors. Even the sound system is fine-tuned specifically for the convertible with an EQ that adjusts based on the driving environment whether the top is open or closed. The power window controls have been linked to the movement of the roof as well, allowing the ability to switch to open air freedom with the single push of a button.
Once closed, a tonneau covers the roof storage space to provide a weather-resistant seal from the elements. The rear profile of the LC Convertible trunk is accentuated with a “kicked up” design that lifts its profile slightly, while the surface of the spoiler is laterally broadened to emphasize the low, wide stance of the car. The center brake light is now integrated into the trunk lid.
Premium magnesium and aluminum components are adopted for the roof links and support structure to provide both a reduction in weight and a design with a low center of gravity. The roof material itself was carefully selected and manufactured to help ensure optimal tension, to minimize wrinkling and improve sound insulation. The four-layer soft top, which includes three layers of fabric and one layer of sound-absorbing material, is designed to retain the flowing roofline of the coupe without the supporting frame visible through the fabric.
A hydraulic system is responsible for opening and closing the convertible’s roof in an elegant, seamless motion. The system features an electromagnetic valve to control the hydraulic pressure generated by the hydraulic pump to extend or contract cylinders for the tension bow, main roof and the tonneau cover. Three times the number of typical durability tests were conducted to ensure reliability and quietness of operation.
The LC 500 Convertible top is offered in two colors: Black and Sand. Exterior paint options include Ultra White, Smoky Granite Mica, Liquid Platinum, Atomic Silver, Obsidian, Caviar, Infrared*, Cadmium Orange*, Flare Yellow*, Nori Green Pearl and Nightfall Mica. Depending upon the exterior color chosen, three interior colors are available: Black, Circuit Red and Toasted Caramel.
*Colors require a premium paint charge of $595
Regardless of the weather trending hot or cool, the LC 500 Convertible is designed with an HVAC system that adjusts the temperature whether the top is raised or lowered. The Lexus Climate Concierge with Upper Body Heating automatically manages the air conditioner, seat heaters, neck heaters and steering-wheel heater to ensure the cabin is comfortable. The HVAC system is even optimized to send warm or cold air to the back of the driver’s hands when gripping the steering wheel.
Engineers took care to ensure the driving experience is ideal for all occupants, as the cabin is designed to reduce wind noise thanks to the unique shape of the beltline and rear molding to help suppress wind from entering. A standard transparent polycarbonate wind deflector helps restrict unwanted air from entering the cabin during low-speed travel, such as driving in the city, while the standard windscreen provides improved cabin experience during high-speed travel, such as freeway driving, for comfortable conversing with the top down. Active Noise Control (ANC) combines sound insulation and absorption techniques to help suppress unwanted harshness from entering the cabin.
There’s no question that the purr (and eventual roar) of the naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 elicits an intoxicating note that beckons the driver to depress the throttle and bring the engine to life. The front-engine, rear-wheel-drive LC Convertible shares the same direct-injected V8 powerplant as the LC Coupe. The engine is rated to produce 471 horsepower at 7,100 rpm and 398 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm. For the LC Convertible, the engine is paired with a Direct-Shift 10-speed automatic transmission. The Convertible posts an impressive 0-60 mph time of 4.6 seconds, and its maximum track speed is electronically limited to 168 mph.
Although great effort is put into keeping certain sounds out of the new LC 500 Convertible, the powerful roar of the naturally-aspirated V8 engine is not one of them. Engine intake pulses are naturally carried through a diaphragm into a sound pipe that carries the sounds of the V8, not the air itself, into the cabin to enhance its rumble (similar to the system employed in the Lexus LFA). To further enhance the aggressive tone of the engine’s exhaust and augment performance, a computer-controlled valve balances the fine line between optimizing exhaust back-pressure and exhaust tone and volume at higher engine speeds.
Inside, the LC 500 Convertible is equipped with an impressive 10.3-inch high-resolution split-screen multimedia display to provide immediate access to audio or climate controls and various systems, including the voice-activated navigation system.
The multimedia system features Android Auto compatibility, allowing you to seamlessly cast your device’s interface onto the vehicle’s multimedia display. Play your music via your favorite apps such as Spotify® and Pandora®, send messages through a range of commonly used apps like WhatsApp®, navigate with Google Maps™, and request information—all with just the sound of your voice—through the Google Assistant™. For added convenience, Android Auto can also deliver tailored information based on your calendar, usage activity and habits.
With Apple CarPlay® integration, you can access the familiar interface from your iPhone through the vehicle’s multimedia display. Simply connect an iPhone to get directions, make calls, send and receive message via Siri®, and access apps like Spotify™, Audible® and Apple® podcasts.
Bring all the convenience of Amazon Alexa compatibility on the road with the Lexus+Alexa app. Using only your voice, you can easily access thousands of the same functions you get with Alexa at home. Listen to audiobooks, stream Amazon Music, make lists, check the weather, get news briefings and much more. You can also use it to control compatible smart-home devices such as lighting, thermostat and security systems. Offering added in-vehicle convenience, Alexa even syncs to your Navigation System to provide on-the-go recommendations.
The Lexus Enform Remote service lets you lock and unlock doors, start the engine and climate control, check the fuel level and more all through your smartphone, smartwatch or devices enabled with the Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. And it’s included for the first year of ownership.
Lexus Enform Destination Assist three-year trial is also included and acts as an in-vehicle personal concierge, providing directions and destinations delivered by a live agent. The included Lexus Enform App Suite 2.0 app offers access to favorite mobile applications through the vehicle’s center console display, including Amazon Alexa compatibility and Waze (iOS only).
Inspiration Series – 1 of 100
A unique, one-of-a-kind LC Convertible based on the Inspiration Series crossed the auction block at Barrett-Jackson in early 2020 and raised an impressive 2 million dollars for charity, split evenly between the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. This one-of-one vehicle is no longer available, but those looking to get their hands on one of the units it was based on are still in luck.
Limited to only 100 units, the 2021 LC Convertible Inspiration Series features an exclusive Structural Blue paint job, which is paired with the exclusive Bespoke Amalfi White semi-aniline leather-trimmed interior and Marine-colored soft top. It comes equipped with 21-inch forged alloy wheels, a limited slip differential in the rear, and a rear performance rod with damper.
Inside, carbon-fiber door sill scuff plates are marked with the Inspiration Series logo. An exclusive serialized number will reside on the door jamb. The front headrests are embossed with the Lexus logo, while the cabin is kept cozy thanks to the Climate Concierge with Upper Body Heating. The Inspiration Series will also feature a two-piece Zero Halliburton luggage set created specifically for Lexus (that fit nicely in the trunk, of course), as well as a 13-speaker Mark Levinson audio system complete with an 11-channel, 918-watter amplifier. Other features include the addition of the Cold Area Package (heated steering wheel, etc.) and the SmartAccess Card key.
Lexus Safety System+
The new 2021 LC Convertible will come standard with Lexus Safety System+ (LSS+). This includes Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Lane Keep Assist, All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and Intelligent High Beams. Also like the LC 500 coupe, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert come standard.
There are important safety features specific to convertible, though, such as the active roll bars that are designed to deploy upward when a rollover is detected. When not deployed, these roll bars are hidden from view to retain the convertible’s exquisite silhouette when the top is down.
Lexus Enform Safety Connect trial comes standard and is complimentary for the first 3 years of ownership with access to Lexus Enform response centers 24/7/365. With Lexus Enform Service Connect trial, also complimentary for the first 10 years, the vehicle can send alerts for specific factory recommended maintenance, simultaneously alerting a preferred Lexus retailer. The Lexus app or LexusDrivers.com website can be used to set push-reminders and alerts for maintenance and service issues.