Lexus creates ‘world’s most beautiful convertible’
Design perspective from chief engineer and designer
SA launch expected around mid-2021
TOKYO, Japan – What does it take to make “the world’s most beautiful convertible?” For the team behind the upcoming Lexus LC convertible, the Japanese automaker said, it called for much more than simply swopping its LC Coupe’s fixed roof for a retractable soft top.
”While there are clearly strong family ties between the two Lexus LC models,” chief designer Tadao Mori and chief engineer Yasushi Muto told The Corner in a media release, ”it’s actually the details under the skin that count the most to provide insight into the Lexus LC convertibles’ design process.”
The cars will launch in South Africa mid-2021 – 32 years after the first model.
Mori explained: “Our biggest challenge was always how to keep the boot line low while retaining volume not only for luggage but also the folded roof. You’ll often see a see a high rear from other automakers but we wanted to make this the most beautiful convertible – roof up or down.
”We’re really proud to have kept the of the rear wings so low to keep appearance of a low centre of gravity. Whatever, the roof had to fold into what seemed an impossibly small space behind the rear seats.
“Every bend in the roof had to be a different size so we designed a complex and unique mechanism. It’s the first soft-top Lexus has made and the team worked in close collaboration with our specialist Austrian supplier Magna to to achieve the perfect results.”
Lexus believes quality also shows in the way the roof opens/closes with a pause at the beginning and end of the sequence but faster movement in between. Muto again: “This is intentional… a way to communicate elegance of moving parts that’s been part of Lexus’ DNA right from the start with the first-generation LS sedan.”
That was back in 1983 and the first Lexus LS was launched in 1989.
Beauty, however, had to be balanced with practicality. “The balance isn’t bard to understand – we call it functional beauty – but achieving it was very difficult,” says Muto. “For example, we had to add bracing to keep the body rigid yet had to keep space to stow the roof. So, we developed an aluminium rear-suspension brace – one compact yet rigid.
”It’s design also helped us to keep the car’s beautiful silhouette.”
Asked about his favourite aspect of the new car, Muto said: “When I’m on a winding road and I press the accelerator or the brake so the car downshifts, I love the sound of the engine – it’s direct and exciting and unique to a naturally aspirated V8. I also love the view from the rear of the car.
”You can see just how the interior design merges with the exterior to make a very beautiful thing.”
Mori says he finds joy in the details: “For example, the button to open and close the roof is hidden in a palm rest like a little gem. It’s not on show, it’s a special control that nobody else can see. The seats, too, are sport-level quality – leather with a perforation not only functional but also with a beautiful pattern and high-quality feel.”
The LC 500 convertible has a non-turbo five-lutre V8 engine capable of 351kW/540Nm – the latter at 4800rpm – and a 10-speed auto transmission, this engine gives the LC linear, yet invigorating acceleration.
Prices and full specs will be shared at the media launch.