• Lexus reckons its created the world's most beautiful convertible.
• The Japanese luxury carmaker's new LC will be launched in the second quarter of 2021.
• Delve into what a styling perspective from Chief Designer Tadao Mori and Chief Engineer Yasushi Muto.
It's a bold claim to make. Lexus says its new LC Convertible is the the world's most beautiful convertible. But what goes into producing it?
For the team behind the new LC , achieving that dream called for much more than merely swapping the LC Coupe's fixed roof with a soft-top. There are strong family ties between the two unique LC models.
Still, according to Chief Designer Tadao Mori and Chief Engineer Yasushi Muto, it's the details under the skin that count the most, as they provide insights into the LC Convertible design process. The LC Convertible will launch mid-year, the latest for the South African market.
"Our biggest challenge was always how we would keep the trunk line low while still allowing room for load space and stowing the roof," says Mori.
Achieving this was no simple task. It meant the roof had to be folded into what seemed an impossibly small space behind the rear seats.
"To make this possible, every bend in the roof had to be a different size, so we had to engineer a complex and unique mechanism," Muto explains. It's the first soft-top that Lexus has made, and the team worked in close collaboration with specialist supplier Magna in Austria to achieve the perfect results.
In addition to the smart, compact roof design, Lexus' outstanding quality is also evident in how the LC Convertible's roof opens and closes. "When you operate the roof, one will notice that there's a pause at the beginning and end of the sequence, with faster movement in between," says Muto.
"This is intentional, it's a way of communicating elegance in moving parts that has been part of the Lexus DNA right from the start with the first-generation LS sedan."
"The balance itself isn't difficult to understand – we call it functional beauty – but achieving it was tough," says Muto.
Both Mori and Muto profess a love of top-down driving (Mori drove a classic MG sports car for more than a decade), and they gush about the unique sense of freedom it gives and a connection with the natural world.
Asked about his favourite aspect of the new car, Muto responds: "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 wonderful thing."
The LC 500 Convertible boasts a naturally-aspirated 5.0-litre V8 engine producing 351kW and 540Nm mated to the DirectShift-10 automatic transmission.
Lexus will introduce the LC 500 Convertible during this year to SA with pricing and a full specification to be shared nearer to the date of the launch.
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