1 Oct 2001
By CHRIS HARRIS
LEXUS’ reply to the Mercedes-Benz CL was certainly distinctive.
Said to be inspired by fast luxury boats, the SC 430 opened a new market for the brand in Australia, although its SC 400 predecessor – based on the Japanese-market Toyota Soarer – arrived here in reasonable numbers as unofficial ‘grey’ imports.
The SC 430’s party trick was not the electric folding metal roof that turned it from a 2+2 seater coupe (and the rear seats are barely capable of carrying a baby) into an extremely pleasant and refined convertible.
Nor was it the utterly buttery 210kW/419Nm 4.3-litre quad-cam 32-valve V8 powerplant mated to an equally smooth five-speed automatic gearbox, or stratospheric levels of gizmos and gadgets.
No, the SC 430’s appeal lay in its brash bug-eyed styling that brazenly screamed “Key West” or “Beverly Hills” and looked like no other car on the market.
And, like the Lexus RX 330, although the dynamics were a little on the vague and roly poly side, there was still much hedonistic pleasure to gain from the slick salubriousness that was the SC 430.
In October ’04 Lexus wrought a surprisingly subtle yet effective facelift that added a little sharpness to the SC’s styling.