AT a time when car makers are looking at all manner of ways to lower carbon emissions and make the industry a cleaner place, Lexus has unleashed a mighty 5.0-litre V8 convertible that bucks every trend in the book.
Hot on the heels of the two-door LC 500 Coupe model comes the drop-top version and it aims to take on the powerhouses in the premium sports car league.
With a whopping 457bhp and 530Nm of torque, the performance from the naturally aspirated V8 petrol engine driving the LC 500 Convertible almost matches that of the coupe with a 0-62mph sprint time of 5.0 seconds and top speed that is limited at 168mph.
As you might expect, this is not the cheapest car in the Lexus line-up. It's a flagship model with a matching high-end price-tag. There are two trim levels - the standard LC 500 Convertible and the model with Sport+ Pack and it was the latter that we tested costing Â£96,625 (increased to Â£98,625 with options).
Running costs are not cheap either with a combined 24.1mpg and carbon emissions of 275g/km. So expect regular trips to fill up, costly road tax and expensive insurance as the car sits in group 50.
But these figures are to be expected as Lexus designers were set the task of designing the world's most beautiful open-top car that looks as good with the roof up or down. And they have pretty much succeeded with that mission.
Viewed from any angle, this sleek model is guaranteed to stop onlookers dead in their tracks. It possesses all the powerful styling that helped the Coupe model scoop numerous design awards with its beautiful, muscular lines. There is the large spindle grille that is a hallmark of Lexus design, a low bonnet line with short front overhang, LED light clusters, LED daytime running lights and a retractable rear spoiler.
There are door handles that are flush to the bodywork and when they pop out they have the letter ‘L' displaying. The front and rear wings flare away from the centre of the car and house the large wide-diameter wheels with 21-inch forged alloys and black brake calipers completing the styling.
Move inside and the modern interior is very driver focused with a wealth of technology on offer. The power-operated leather sports seats feature a memory function and are designed using a unique quilted pattern that looks elegant and upmarket.
Creature comforts include a 13-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, a 10.3-inch display screen with navigation, smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, a DVD player, Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control and a rear wind defector.
Mated to the powerful V8 engine is a perfectly timed 10-speed automatic transmission that features a clever AI-SHIFT set-up that uses past driving history to work out the driver's preferences based on speed and accelerator use.
The power at your disposal is relentless and the low centre of gravity means the rear-wheel drive car is perfectly balanced and really confident into long sweeping bends. The road holding is sublime and the steering perfectly weighted with plenty of driver feedback. Steering wheel mounted paddles provide extra driver engagement.
The LC 500 Convertible eats up the motorway miles for fun and, despite sitting so low to the ground, the comfort levels are exceptionally good. Even after a non-stop 175-mile run with the top down, I still felt perfectly settled in the seat with the neck, seat and steering wheel heaters fending off the winter chill.
There are stalks perfectly positioned each side of the steering wheel that control the drive modes with the left lever offering access to Eco, Comfort, Sport S and Sport S+ modes with the option to customise your preferences. The right stalk has a Snow function and can also be used to turn off the traction control.
The vocal accompaniment from the engine is spot on too with just the right amount of noise to draw attention without screaming ‘look at me' in other motorists' faces. The car features Active Noise Control which works similarly to noise cancelling headphones to counteract any unwelcome engine and drivetrain sound. Obviously, the volume gets louder as you move up through the drive modes and the gear shift timing alters, but one thing is guaranteed - you'll get out of this car smiling.
It's aggressive, but not in a brutal way and has a calmer side when needed. Switch across to Comfort and you could be travelling Business Class. It's a car that suits your mood whatever it may be.
The LC 500 Coupe model gained an upgraded suspension system for 2021 and that is fitted to the convertible version and brings additional handling stability and agility plus greater responsiveness and that, in turn, adds to the driving exhilaration.
And should the sun put in an appearance, then tucked neatly beneath a leather cover by the gear lever are the controls to operate the four-layer multi-folding canvas roof, which can be raised or lowered in 15 seconds at speeds of up to 31mph. When lowered, the roof tucks neatly away behind the rear seats and, as a result, the luggage space remains the same as the coupe model at 149 litres.
The car is classed as featuring a 2+2 cabin which means there are rear seats, but in reality, they are best used for storage as the leg space is so restricted. There are also lots of handy storage options scattered throughout the car such as a glovebox, cup holder, door bins, central cubby box and a net on the passenger's side of the centre console.
Safety specifications are comprehensive with the likes of dynamic radar cruise control, a pre-collision system, lane keep assist, road sign assist, automatic high beam, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, adaptive variable suspension, a full suite of airbags and auto-deploying roll-over bars.