2021 Lexus LC Convertible Review: A Future Classic

A chopped top makes the stunning Lexus two-door an even better luxury convertible.

I’m not embarrassed to admit how long it takes me to drop the top when I pick up the 2021 Lexus LC convertible.

Some of that is sheer distraction: it’s impossible to get into Lexus‘ big convertible and not spend a few minutes marvelling at the plush surroundings. It’s only once I start poking and prodding any and all surfaces that I find what I’m looking for. Hidden underneath what I believe to be a wrist support for the Lexus trackpad are two switches: one to raise and lower the lid, and one to do the same to the B-pillar and quarter-windows.

It’s a rare spot of subtlety from the LC. This bright red droptop doesn’t just draw attention: it demands it, craning necks toward it with the gravitational pull of a beautiful neutron star. And like that heavenly body, the LC’s appeal feels built to last. An opulent grand tourer with stunning looks and one of the Last Great Naturally-Aspirated V8s, the LC is a future classic for those lucky enough to swing its six-figure asking price.

Droptop theater

With that all-important switch located, the four-layer fabric roof starts its dance. In typical Lexus fashion it’s hush-hush, yet the amount of moving parts never fails to impress. The back deck rises up, the leather halo further still, and the sand-colored top gracefully folds itself away in 15 seconds.

It’s early October: I can count the remaining good-weather days of the year on one hand, so I make a promise to myself that the LC will operate topless for as often as possible during our time together.

It’s sunny and warm enough, but angry-looking clouds are pushing in from the lake. I point the LC’s long nose towards the nearest highway to get us home as quickly as possible. My sense of timing couldn’t have been worse however, and gridlock ensures we aren’t moving at more than half the posted limit for much of the trip.

The stop-and-go does provide the first (of many) positive comments from fellow motorists though. People love the LC. Thumbs-ups flash from within all manner of cars. There’s a moment of mutual appreciation between a tastefully-modified A80-gen Supra driver and I. As traffic picks up to my left, I hear the ohmygodthatisSUCHacoolcar dopplered holler from a passing fan. The LC does a number for one’s self-esteem, but the better news is that it radiates that positivity outward.

SEE ALSO: 2020 Lexus NX300 Review

Just look at it. The LC was already a stunning-looking thing, but the roofectomy has made it even better. Say what you will about the Japanese brand’s styling on some of its crossovers—I know I have—but here, it gels exceptionally well. It’s cleaner, with little of the fussy details found elsewhere. Those massive 21-inch wheels fill the arches perfectly. The Infrared paint is a deep, rich red that easily challenges Mazda’s Soul Red as the best of the hue.

Lexus has also done some detail work around back, embiggening the rear lip spoiler to rebalance the roofless visuals. The same trick taillights, with a deceptive sense of depth, are present. The nose is unchanged too, pointing forward like an arrow, so low you wonder how it can possibly fit a big V8 underneath. But what a V8 it is.

An engine this good deserves its own sub-heading

Any doubts Lexus couldn’t build engines on par with the greats from Ferrari, BMW, and Alfa Romeo should’ve been banished by the LFA a decade ago. That was a limited production car though—for those who remain unconvinced, there is the LC.

The 5.0-liter V8 does duty in other Lexus models of course, namely the F model of the RC and GS. Neither of those has the ability to hear the eight-pot sans roof, however. It’s truly epic, ripping the air apart with every stab of the throttle. Without turbos, throttle response is crisp, though you’ll want to twist the LC’s dash-mounted selector to Sport+ for the best results. It’s all natural too: there’s no artificial sound being piped in through the speakers.

Lexus offers but one transmission with this engine, a 10-speed auto. In manual mode, it responds quickly for upshifts, but hesitates more when heading back down. The aluminum shifter paddles are great to the touch, and are big enough that you’ll never lose track of them.

From behind the wheel, the LC rarely reminds you it’s running around without a roof. The big coupe feels structurally stiff, with only the absolute roughest of roads getting close to upsetting it. Lexus has retuned the suspension for the convertible, which weighs in at a chunky 4,540 lb (2,060 kg). It’s more compliant—fitting for a droptop—but never devolves into sloppiness. A limited-slip differential ensures it turns that glorious noise into forward motion, too.

Cruiser extraordinaire

Not to be outdone, the Toasted Caramel interior is as impressive and desirable as the LC’s high-fashion exterior. The warm leather covers nearly every surface, with intricate stitching across the seats and door panels. The dashboard flows into the doors, where the design wraps around to those vestigial rear seats. (They’re really more additional storage than anything.) It’s almost organic in its design, and opulent as any other droptop out there.

Cruising with the top down, the LC maintains the set interior temperature even as the outside air grows chillier. Neck heaters help too. The wind noise is hardly an issue: we can still chat at highway speeds without resorting to yelling.

SEE ALSO: 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Review

Eventually, the weekend rain arrives. The LC’s top can operate at up to 31 mph (50 km/h), which means all we need is 16 seconds before we’re cocooned in its four-layer comfort. With the roof securely in place, we can really enjoy the crisp sounds of the 13-speaker Mark Levinson sound system. We didn’t bring any CDs though…

A CD player isn’t the only old-fashioned piece of tech in the LC. It features Lexus’ Remote Touch infotainment control system, and it’s just as awkward and distracting here as it is elsewhere in the lineup. It’s bad enough that my better half simply resorts to using my wired-in phone for controls instead.

Fairing better is the safety assist list. The LC features Lexus Safety System Plus, which includes the usual automated emergency braking with pedestrian sensing, lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning, and adaptive cruise control. Our tester also features a head-up display.

Loading …

Verdict: 2021 Lexus LC Convertible Review

On the final day I had with the LC, we took it up to farm country. It relished the roads out there: well-sighted, mostly flat—they’re prime cruising territory. The smell of early autumn was all around us, and it’s this enhanced attachment to the outside world that remains a convertible’s biggest advantage over its tin-top siblings.

It gives me time to think. Think about the six-figure starting price of the LC. Think about how it isn’t the sportiest choice in this rarified space, yet it’s hardly what you’d call practical either.

But mostly, I think about how none of that matters. The LC feels special enough that its list price looks like a bargain, not a blemish. It isn’t chasing any other competitor’s approach, but instead confidently doing its own thing. The LC isn’t perfect, but that’s true of our favorite automotive icons. Just like those poster heroes, the 2021 LC is deeply desirable, and will remain that way for present and future generations.

Become an AutoGuide insider. Get the latest from the automotive world first by subscribing to our newsletter here.