Omotenashi – that stands for Japanese hospitality. Or did you actually think this test could do without any Nippon philosophical approach? Whether it’s the unity of horse and rider (jinba ittai), continuous improvement (kaizen) or takumi (craftsmanship), any decent Japan story broadens our horizons. Philosophically and habitually. Once sitting in the Lexus is enough. When the seat and steering wheel move servilely back into position after you’ve finished getting in, the door trim imitates a freshly raked Zen garden, your eyes don’t even know where to look. Omotenashi, Takumi – check.
Expressive, high-quality, unique – the Lexus refuses to be pigeonholed as a sensible, boring Japanese car. Of course, as a connoisseur you know that this pigeonhole has been rotting for decades. So let’s forget about that, just enjoy the cloth-roof LC. With most studies, there is a slight gap between fiction (study) and reality (finished car), but at the end of the day you are left emotionally empty-handed.
The LC 500 is different: Lexus has brought the spirit of the LF-LC to real life. First as a coupe, now also as a convertible. Certainly, the sales successes in Germany turn out to be exclusive in double digits at best, but that actually increases the fascination of the LC 500. Whether it’s the silhouette, the interior, the details or even the sound of the five-liter V8 – everything is special and yet coherent.
When the sound of the naturally aspirated engine changes from 4000 rpm to energetic, yet remains consistently south of obscene – that’s great. We debated for a long time in the editorial office whether the engine should roar or gurgle. We agreed on a draw. Either way, the LC 500 sweeps all the talk about boring Japanese cars off the record. Anyone who has spent an evening in Tokyo sitting on crates of beer in one of the pubs under train tracks, sipping delicious Asahi with white-shirted locals, knows what is meant. Boring? Not at all. Rather daring, courageous, focused.
Who else has delivered the first mass-produced hybrid, a rear-wheel-drive sports coupe with a two-liter naturally aspirated engine or, most recently, a compact car on steroids with a turbo three-cylinder engine, carbon roof and high-tech all-wheel drive? In real life? Not on a show stage, but dryly to the dealer?
So now let’s really get to work on the LC 500 Convertible, the first fabric-roof convertible from the luxury brand, the Über-Toyota, so to speak. There used to be the LF-A with a carbon chassis and ten-cylinder engine. That’s another story, but not quite, because it also had these strange instruments. Actually digital, but not looking like that and especially with the tachometer that can be moved at the push of a button. So really physical. By electric motor.
Sliding: the instruments
Engine: eight-cylinder V-engine, displacement 4,969 cm3, output 341 kW (464 hp) at 7,100 rpm, max. torque 530 Nm at 4,800 rpm.
Good keyword. Now let’s let the little thing whir behind us for a moment, fold the top down in 15 seconds without it being a nuisance or significantly restricting the luggage space. To achieve this, Lexus relies on an additional folding of the multi-layered fabric cover, even shaping the cover in a particularly elaborate way. Just for information: The cover is supposed to withstand more than 18,000 openings and closings, snow and ice as well as headwinds. We can confirm the latter, and it works well up to the permitted speed of 50 km/h. Literally. Literally.
The 2,029-kilogram convertible, whose body is reinforced in the upper section compared with the coupe and supplemented by a cross strut between the rear wheel suspensions, a v-shaped strut and additional welding points, also runs smoothly in other respects. No wonder, when elaborate aluminum wishbones scan the road, adaptively damped. The LC takes corners neither as a chore nor with furious ferocity, but simply as: Curves.
It starts with the grippy steering wheel and continues with the composed response from the center position – neither dull nor pointed, and certainly not contrived. A Lexus is a Lexus. And not a Porsche, as 911 fans are sure to point out. And not a BMW, where they like to build in a certain mia-san-mia sourness. The LC 500 steers. Perhaps a bit sluggish, but always precise and with sensitivity.