The current Lexus LC series of cars . I mean, it's beautiful -- easily the best-looking Lexus since -- but despite having a great engine, it's not a hugely thrilling driving experience thanks to its wonky transmission and abysmal infotainment system.
So, Lexus, in its wisdom, decided that the best way to improve that car wouldn't be to fix all those problems necessarily, and instead just cut the roof off -- and you know what? Staring at the 2021 Lexus LC 500 convertible in person at its Tuesday night reveal in Los Angeles, it might just have worked.
See, cutting the roof off of the LC 500 means that not only do you get to hear one of the few remaining naturally aspirated V8s in the business much more clearly, but you also tend to focus more on the world around you and less on the car's flaws. Oh, and that convertible top? It's a soft top, rather than a retractable hardtop, and will do its dance from all the way up to all the way stowed in just 15 seconds.
So, apart from the roof, what else has Lexus changed in the LC 500's journey to becoming a convertible? A lot, actually. Lexus has specifically tuned the vehicle's suspension to cope with the added weight of a retractable roof and has engineered in extra chassis stiffness that should -- if you believe Lexus -- mean that the LC 500 'vert should handle just like its coupe cousin.
The LC 500's drivetrain carries over unaltered, so you still have to live with the 10-speed DirectShift automatic, which, while quick to shift, isn't the last word in refinement. The 5.0-liter 32-valve naturally-aspirated V8 carries over too, as does its ability to switch between the conventional Otto combustion cycle and the more efficiency-minded Atkinson cycle. It still makes a not-class-leading-but-still-adequate 471 horsepower at 7,100 rpm and 398 pound-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm.
Other exciting convertible-specific features include a modified version of Lexus' Climate Concierge that will work to maintain a specific temperature even with the top down. It does this with something that Lexus calls "Upper Body Heating" that controls the seat heaters, air conditioning, neck warmers and steering wheel heater.
Lexus has also given a lot of thought as to how the cabin deals with wind noise when the top is down. It uses some old tricks like polycarbonate deflectors and some new tricks, like a unique body belt line shape to help curb buffeting and wind roar. It also uses active noise cancellation to suppress unwanted sounds.
The LC 500 convertible also comes with lots of standard safety tech in the form of Lexus Safety System+, which includes a precollision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with active lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams. It also has blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
Lexus plans to start selling the LC 500 convertible in the summer of 2020 as a 2021 model year vehicle, but if you can't wait that long and you have some extra holiday bonus cash burning hole in your pocket, you can bid on a special LC 500 convertible at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction in January with all proceeds set to be donated to an as-yet-unnamed charity.