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2023 Lexus LC 500 Convertible review (video)

With its sleek lines, powerful stance, and a roof that retreats with cinematic flair, the 2023 Lexus LC 500 convertible makes a bold statement from the moment it rolls onto the scene.

But is it more than just a head-turner? Let’s delve into the nuts and bolts of it to see what else makes this convertible a desirable option in the top end luxury sports car segment.

2023 Lexus LC 500 Convertible: Specifications

Engine: 5.0-litre V8
Output: 351kW@7100rpm / 540Nm@4800rpm
Gearbox: 10-speed auto
Drive type: Rear-wheel drive, limited-slip differential
Wheels: F: 21×8.5, 245/40 R: 21×9.5, 275/35
ANCAP: Not tested
Tare weight: 2000kg
Power-to-weight: 5.69:1 (kg:kW)
Official consumption: 12.7L/100km
Our consumption: 8.4L/100km
Fuel tank/Fuel type: 82L/98 RON
Power efficiency: 27.63kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 3.01 seconds*
0-100km/h: 5.76 seconds*
0-200km/h: 18.25 seconds*
60-110km/h: 3.61 seconds*
1/4 mile: 13.87 seconds at 174.6km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.780g*
100-0km/h braking: 37.68m in 2.97 seconds*
Max deceleration: -1.268g*
Decibel at idle: 46*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 93*
Starting price: $218,242

*Figures as tested by Driving Enthusiast on the day. Manufacturers’ claims may be different

2023 Lexus LC 500 Convertible: How much does it cost?

Lexus has always been synonymous with opulence and prestige, and the LC 500 convertible is no exception. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise it is expensive. You do get class-leading build quality, awesome Japanese design and attention to detail, and plenty of advanced tech for your money. But you could say that about plenty of other mid-level sports cars for half the money.

Three versions are currently on sale in Australia, including the LC 500 V8 coupe, the LC 500h coupe featuring a 264kW 3.5L V6 hybrid, and this, the LC 500 convertible. Prices span from $204,635, $212,727, and up to $218,242, in that order (excluding on-roads).

2023 Lexus LC 500 Convertible: Interior & packaging

The interior is a showcase of meticulous craftsmanship, with hand-stitched leather for parts of the dash finished by expert Takumi craftsmen, real metal accents, and soft-touch surfaces creating an ambiance that exudes sophistication and class.

Some of the buttons and switchgear are pulled from other Lexus models, which is a little bit disheartening to see. Especially when you’re paying this much. But at least you know the button or whatever will work and continue to work for years to come.

A set of sculpted sports seats in the front provide lots of adjustment and style. They walk the fine balance between hip-grabbing support and soft, oozing comfort. The rest of the cabin layout is driver-centric, emphasising the connection between the driver and the machine.

Using a bespoke buttress wrapped in leather, the centre dash fascia is skewed to the driver, almost like a shielded control panel, while the rest of the dash wraps around the full length to envelop the cabin, creating an oasis for passengers no matter where they are travelling.

The attention to detail is exceptional, and it extends to the back seats. Although very tight and with almost vertical backrests, these are a welcome gesture for those occasional passengers who crave a taste of the open road. With the roof peeled back the rear seats are certainly more useable. We managed to get a forward-facing baby seat in here as well, but it is a tight fit with the roof in place.

When it comes to the convertible’s packaging, the retractable hardtop is a marvel of engineering. Transforming the LC 500 from a sleek coupe to an open-top cruiser takes just the flick of a toggle switch, and the process is a spectacle. Lexus has managed to maintain the coupe’s sleek profile even with the top down, ensuring that the aesthetics aren’t compromised for the sake of a convertible experience. There are options for a beige or blue fabric roof as well.

In terms of technology, the LC comes with a 12.3-inch multimedia screen with wireless Apple CarPlay but wired Android Auto, along with a high quality 13-Speaker Mark Levinson sound system, digital radio and in-built sat-nav. Unfortunately, the LC continues with Lexus’s fidgety touch pad controller, which can be quite annoying to use while driving. There are settings to adjust in terms of sensitivity and feedback, so at least you can find a setup that suits you best. But, really, this tech needs to be superseded.

Boot space is pretty cramped, as you’d imagine, rated at just 149L. That’s only just enough for a pair of carry-on luggage bags. However, that’s exactly what this car is designed for; weekends away and business trips. This is not a family-hauler.

2023 Lexus LC 500 Convertible: Powertrain & handling

The beating heart of the LC 500 is a naturally-aspirated 5.0-litre V8 engine. It is living on borrowed time, as Lexus continues to transform its entire lineup to electrified systems. However, the V8 remains for now as an extravagant and majestic expression of Lexus performance. Peak power is reached at an ear-tingling 7100rpm, where you’ll feel 351kW come on in perfectly linear fashion.

There isn’t a great deal of low-end torque, but this is a 5.0-litre unit nonetheless, and capacity alone brings excellent response. Peak torque is 540Nm, and available at 4800rpm. It’s not as much grunt as some of the twin-turbo V8 rivals, however, this old-school, naturally-aspirated setup has been a cherished formula for decades. It is charming, rather than brutal and all about numbers.

And that brings us onto its sound. This engine sound goes through a full storyline, starting with a deep and bellowing rumble, moving into a roaring bark, and then up to a screaming high-pitch yell. It literally sends goosebumps rippling across your skin; something that isn’t really experienced in the modern twin-turbo V8 rivals.

Sure, this isn’t as quick and doesn’t produce the same level of power, but the experience is beyond what most others can provide. This is a properly engaging engine. If you want power, you need to rev it right out. And you’ll love every second of it because it feels like you did it. Some rivals provide peak torque just off idle, and, at times, this delivery can come as a surprise. Not in the LC. This is all about what inputs you command.

Matched up to the engine is a 10-speed automatic. Yes, you read that correctly. 10 gears. It uses a torque converter and the shifts are very smooth and quite fast. Paddle shifters are available, with crisp throttle-blipping on the downshifts. This will happen automatically too, if you select the sport modes.

Our only gripe with the automatic is the gear ratio configuration. Despite featuring 10 ratios, the lower gears stretch right out. You might expect rapid-fire changes for the first four or so gears. But that’s not the case. This takes off and gradually runs through the ratios, making use of the full rev range.

An approach like this provides great long-distance economy and of course strong top-end speed, but initial acceleration isn’t as punchy as one might expect. As a result, the 0-100km/h time doesn’t look as good as some rivals. The best we managed, on a private road with a Vbox, was 5.76 seconds, with the quarter-mile coming up in 13.87 seconds at 174.6km/h. We also did 0-200km/h in 18.25 seconds, which is quite quick for its 0-100 time and reflective of that top-end power and gearing.

On the open road, the LC 500 convertible is just beautiful. With the top down, the visceral connection to the environment is heightened, and the exhaust note becomes a symphony that echoes through trees and bounces off walls and rock faces for a full, dramatic theatre-like experience. Lexus has managed to capture the essence of driving pleasure and encapsulate it in this convertible, making each journey an event.

It also handles wonderfully, with absorbent suspension soaking up ordinary roads, but with enough lateral bracing to minimise body roll and pitch. First and foremost, it is a luxury vehicle. But in the sport modes it becomes a very well-sorted sports car. Not class-leading in sharpness, so it’s perfect for roads rather than race tracks.

2023 Lexus LC 500 Convertible: Key attractions/reasons to buy

  • Stunning design: Especially in Zinnia yellow like this example. It commands the attention of every onlooker and shows real attention to detail.
  • V8 engine: It is a masterpiece. Truly breathtaking soundtrack and a traditional, progressive power delivery that you only get with a naturally-aspirated engine; missing in today’s world of super-responsive turbo and electrified powertrains.
  • Build quality: Nobody does it better than Lexus when it comes to this stuff – except maybe Porsche. This is made to last for a decade or more and it’ll likely do that with no major issues whatsoever.
  • Balanced handling: It’s not snappy or tail-happy thanks to progressive power delivery, and the suspension is firm enough in sport mode for an enjoyable spirited road but not too rigid to destroy the comfort.

2023 Lexus LC 500 Convertible: Key considerations before you buy

  • Price-to-performance ratio: Obviously it’s going to cost a lot; it is the flagship two-door Lexus, after all. But if you look at numbers alone, some rivals are more powerful and quicker but for less money.
  • Long gearing: Despite featuring 10 gears, the first few seem to be quite long, decreasing its initial acceleration potential and overall punchiness.
  • Rear seat space: It’s almost non-existent, and the backrests are pretty much vertical. Doable for short-ish adults with the roof down but really only for kids with the roof up.

2023 Lexus LC 500 Convertible: Video

How does it rate against its rivals?
  • Price
  • Quality look & feel
  • Interior tech
  • Powertrain performance
  • Ride & handling
  • X factor (does it stand out in its class?)
4.3

Final word

Whether you’re cruising along the coast with the top down or unleashing the V8 on a winding mountain road, the LC 500 Convertible is a statement of style and substance. It might not be the most powerful or the sharpest sports car around corners, but it’s not just a one-trick pony; this blends the thrill of spirited driving and the cocooned relaxation of fine motoring, perfectly.

Brett Davis

Brett started out as a motor mechanic, but eventually became frustrated working on cars that weren't his. He then earned a degree in journalism and scored a job at Top Gear Australia back in 2008, and then worked at Zoom/Extreme Performance magazines, CarAdvice, and started PerformanceDrive/PDriveTV in 2011 with Josh Bennis, and ran it for 12 years. He's now the owner and managing editor here at Driving Enthusiast.

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