Lexus has finally launched an open-top version of its sleekly styled LC coupé, complete with a sonorous V8 at the helm.  

What makes a halo model? Well, an attention-grabbing exterior design certainly helps, as does a high-performance powertrain. This type of model tends to live at the very summit of its automaker’s broader line-up, which is where the new LC500 Convertible has been positioned by Lexus, right alongside the LS luxury saloon.

Spindle grille a Lexus staple.

We’d venture this is one of the best-looking drop-tops currently available on our shores. Priced at R2 345 500, the convertible commands a R154 900 premium over its coupé sibling, which puts it right in line with the likes of the all-paw BMW M850i Convertible.

Considering this Japanese open-top model was revealed as long ago as 2019, it’s been quite a long time coming for local buyers. But with a naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V8 petrol engine beating menacingly beneath that lengthy bonnet, it was certainly worth the wait. The brawny eight-cylinder unit kicks out 351 kW and 540 Nm, peak outputs that are delivered to the rear wheels via a 10-speed automatic transmission.

The top comes down in 15 seconds at speeds up to 50 km/h.

While more grand tourer than supercar in character, the LC500 Convertible is certainly quick enough for most tastes, with the obligatory 0-100 km/h sprint completed in 4.7 seconds and top speed capped at a heady 270 km/h. Turbocharged rivals offer more low-down twisting force but the high-revving V8 makes for this with a wonderful noise under enthusiastic throttle inputs. Yes, this is a vehicle best enjoyed with the roof down.

“Few convertibles are stylish and elegant when the roof is open and when it is closed”

In terms of styling, the sleek coupé grabbed and held our attention, and the same can be said of the convertible. Designers sometimes miss the mark when the top goes up, but that’s just not the case here. The four-layered roof (which is available in a variety of colours) is formed from wrinkle-free fabric, supported by a structure created using aluminium and magnesium. The top comes down in 15 seconds at speeds up to 50 km/h.

Top stowed, the LC500 Convertible still cuts a dashing figure.

Tadao Mori, chief designer at Lexus, makes an interesting point: “Few convertibles are stylish and elegant when the roof is open and when it is closed. We put maximum effort into realising the same beautiful roofline for the LC Convertible as for the coupé.” Of course, as is often the case with this sort of vehicle, the rear quarters are not a particularly hospitable place for adult passengers. In fact, we’d suggest looking at this as a two-seater with fancy rear pews for your luggage.

The almost concept-like exterior design of the LC500 Convertible is testament to the sort of attention to detail we’ve come to expect from Lexus. There’s the hourglass-shaped grille, the distinctive daytime running lights and those bold, two-tone 21-inch forged alloy wheels. Whether you love or hate retractable exterior door handles, there’s no denying they work visually on a model with as smooth a body shape as this. Like the coupé, the open-top version is defined by its low and wide stance.

The free-breathing V8 makes a stunning sound.

So, what’s it like to drive? Well, the LC500 Convertible employs forged-aluminium suspension components, a hollow rear stabiliser bar and a rear performance damper, while also using clever systems such as adaptive variable suspension and active cornering assist familiar from the coupé. While it’s certainly no featherweight, the result is a lovely mix of dynamic ability and settled ride quality. With various drive modes and a mechanical limited-slip differential, it’s sharp enough to tackle the odd mountain pass yet comfortable enough for top-down boulevard cruising. And, with the roof raised, refinement levels aren’t far off those of the well-sorted coupé.

Inside, you’ll find all the luxuries you’d expect from Lexus, including swathes of soft-touch leather available in various hues. This material has also been applied to the heated steering wheel; while we would have appreciated a flat-bottom tiller here, somehow the round wheel fits right in. All sorts of driver assistance features are present, too, along with a handy set of front-seat neck heaters.

The Interior is neatly appointed. Note the LFA-inspired digital instruments.

The LC500 Convertible sports a Mark Levinson sound system incorporating 13 strategically placed speakers. This arrangement is linked to a 10.3-inch multimedia screen manipulated via the somewhat fiddly touchpad with which Lexus has preserved, though Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have thankfully been added.

In short, the LC500 Convertible is a beautifully designed convertible featuring high levels of luxury and a particularly characterful V8 powertrain. It’s entirely worthy of the description of halo model.

At a glance 

Lexus LC500 Convertible 

While turbocharged rivals offer better on-paper performance, the LC500 Convertible is an absolute occasion to drive. It’s gorgeous, well equipped and features an aurally appealing atmospheric heart.

Price: R2 345 500 
Engine: 5.0 L, V8, petrol 
Transmission: 10-spd AT 
Driven wheels: R 
Power: 351 kW @ 7 100 r/min 
Torque: 540 Nm @ 4 800 r/min 
0-100 km/h: 4.7 seconds 
Top speed: 270 km/h 
Fuel consumption: 12.7 L/100 km 
CO2: 290 g/km