Lexus is going topless, again. It’s been five years since the Japanese luxury brand dropped its last ragtop, the IS 350C, and while there’s been a declining interest in driving al fresco, there are still some dedicated fans who could be quite pleased to see the new 2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible make its formal debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
The rollout doesn’t come entirely as a surprise. Lexus brought a very thinly disguised prototype to the Goodwood Festival of Speed last July, but this marks the first appearance of the production model.
The good news is that the soft top does a great job of maintaining the sleek look of the LC 500 coupe. Better yet, Lexus engineers focused on making the top minimally intrusive, whether up or down.
“The LC Convertible’s soft-top design features an innovative folding mechanism that includes a tonneau cover for when it is stored,” a statement from Lexus explains. “The 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.”
There are what Lexus calls “a few key changes” with the convertible, including a slightly kicked-up trunk lid, while the rear spoiler is broadened to emphasize the width of the LC. The rear high-mounted stoplight also has been relocated – as is common with ragtops,
The top itself is a four-layer design that helps reduce noise when closed. It can be opened with a single touch in just 15 seconds, with it taking one more second to put it back up. The ragtop can be operated at speeds up to 31 mph.
It was critical for Lexus to get things right. The automaker took a lot of ribbing for one of its most recent ragtops, the ungainly SC. The LC, on the other hand, has helped punch up the image of a brand that was always a bit too staid.
Originally introduced as the LF-LC concept, few observers expected Lexus would follow up with a production model – or, if it did, that it would retain the show car’s defining creases and curves. The LC took the distinctive, if controversial, “spindle grille” seen on other recent Lexus products to a new level of bold. But the aggressive face, with its slit headlights and long hood, fits this luxury coupe. The overall look is menacing yet sophisticated: a gangster in an evening jacket.
In coupe trim, those looks are backed up by two engine options, including the reasonably peppy hybrid package found in the LC 500h. The gas-electric driveline won’t be offered with the convertible, however. It will come solely with the LC500’s 5.0-liter engine. It’s classic muscle, no slick turbos or superchargers, just a big V-8 making 471 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque. Power will continue to be directed only to the back wheels.
Lexus wants to encourage buyers to keep the top down as much as possible. The LC 500 Convertible features a “Climate Concierge” that will work to ensure passengers are comfortable, whatever the weather conditions. It features an “Upper Body Heating” system that, Lexus says “automatically manages the air conditioner, seat heaters, neck heaters and steering-wheel heater to ensure the cabin is at the ideal temperature even if the outside weather is not. The HVAC system has also been optimized to send warm or cold air to the back of the driver’s hands when gripping the steering wheel.”
The rest of the Lexus LC 500 Convertible largely mirrors what you get with the coupe, including a 10.3-inch touchscreen controlling its infotainment system. For 2021, that includes Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant.
Like the coupe, the LC 500 Convertible comes standard with the Lexus Safety System+ offering 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.
Appropriately, the 2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible will reach showrooms next summer. Pricing hasn’t been announced but the coupe starts at $92,250.