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LA show: Lexus LC finally goes convertible

First Lexus LC convertible confirmed for 2020 launch in Australia

20 Nov 2019

LEXUS  has confirmed a second-half 2020 launch date in Australia for the new LC500 convertible that lifted its lid at the Los Angeles motor show today.


Closely resembling the prototype that debuted at the Detroit motor show in January this year before strutting its stuff at the recent Melbourne Cup horse race in Australia, the production convertible gets a fabric roof – in black or beige – that can be lowered in 15 seconds and raised in 16 seconds at up to 50km/h.


The topless LC has taken its time getting here – the coupe version was shown in November 2016 before being launched in Australia in June 2017.


For Lexus dealers, it will be a case of better late than never, as they have watched Australian sales of the luxury brand’s sports flagship dwindle by more than 70 per cent this year, to just 23 units by the end of October.


To accommodate the folding roof, the Lexus designers raised and widened the rear deck, thus minimising the impact on boot space while also retaining the four seats.


The roof with its four-layer insulated soft-top sits 5mm taller than that of the coupe. For some reason, the convertible’s body is 10mm longer, too.


Lexus promises the roof fabric ensures optimal tension for “no wrinkling” while hiding the supporting frame inside.


The launch vehicle comes with Lexus’ standard 5.0-litre V8 producing the same 351kW and 540Nm as the coupe, but it will not be long before a 500h hybrid version hovers into view.


A 10-speed automatic transmission is standard with the V8, driving the rear wheels.


An exhaust bypass valve helps to provide a V8 note, but clearly not sufficiently, as Lexus has added a tube from the engine to the dash to channel induction sound into the cabin while at the same time employing active noise suppression to take out unwanted racket.


The body has been reinforced with various braces to enhance rigidity in the absence of a solid roof. To help counter the weight gain, Lexus turned to aluminium and magnesium alloy on a couple of parts, such as the rear strut brace.


Judging by the vehicle weight figure (2040kg) provided by Lexus in the United States, the convertible gains 115kg over the coupe that already weighs a hefty 1935kg.


The weight has been shifted slightly towards the rear, however, for a 52:48 distribution.


No fuel economy figures were provided, but considering the extra weight, we expect no improvement on the LC500 coupe’s 11.6 litres per 100km.


Lexus claims the handling performance is close to that of the coupe. In the convertible, this is helped by active cornering assist and active rollbar technologies.


To keep occupants comfortable during top-down driving, seat-mounted neck warmers supplement the heated seats and steering wheel.


Lexus Australia chief executive Scott Thompson today confirmed the LC500 convertible will arrive in Australia in the second half of 2020.


“The LC500 coupe is renowned for its enthralling sound and exhilarating performance, and these amazing attributes are heightened even further with the stunning LC500 convertible,” Mr Thompson said.


“The exotic design is true to the award-winning coupe, while superb craftsmanship and sophisticated underpinnings ensure impeccable luxury and extraordinary handling coexist.”


An initial global run of 300 units will be painted in Morphic Blue – the iridescent seven-layer colour process that takes eight months from start to finish. The colour was pioneered on the coupe, with just two Australian customers taking delivery of coupes with the fancy paintjob in 2018.


Australian pricing will be supplied closer to launch, but we would expect a premium on the LC500’s price of $190,000 plus on-road costs.

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