As Motor Trend wrote when they first reviewed this car:
There's something mesmerizing about a hardtop convertible. Today, the concept is still attractive: a solid top for security and poor weather coziness, with the full tanning bed treatment available at the touch of a button.
Add to that the entertainment value of a retractable's geo-mechanical show itself-the whirring of electric motors and the folding bal-let of pieces andparts as they disappear into the trunk. Whatever it is, people love it.
It all certainly applies to Lexus' new-for-'02 retractable-top SC 430.
Lexus' engineers spent a lot of time in the wind tunnel, and their efforts paid off. Not only does the 430 have a slippery drag coefficient of 0.30, but the wind-cheating design also makes for an extra quiet cabin top up and down. With roof retracted, there's no need to raise your voice to converse with passengers nor to increase radio volume-the SC is as quiet as an average coupe with the windows down.
Underneath the skin, an all-aluminum 4.3L V-8 with VVT-i powers the SC 430-it's much the same unit as in the flagship LS 430 sedan. At idle, the 300-hp DOHC powerplant is silky smooth, almost to where you have to check the tachometer to be sure it's running. Introduce the accelerator to the floorboard and 325 lb-ft of torque slides you back into the cushy leather trimmed seats. Power delivery to the rear wheels is long and linear, with a throaty V-8 exhaust note that tells the world this is no ordinary ULEV-compliant Lexus. On the track, the SC 430 proved it was no slouch, pulling 0-60 mph in 6.1 sec and blasting the quarter mile at 14.5 at 98.3 mph.
The powertrain's smoothness is carried through to the electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission, one of the best we've experienced. Upshifts are smooth and precise, and manually downshifting is a dream as the tranny instantly and quickly changed gears without jolting occupants into the dash.
Unlike many convertibles that are afterthoughts to an existing model, the SC 430 was designed as a pure drop top, optimizing the chassis structure for strength whether the top is up or down. So solid is the chassis, we searched out a particular nasty stretch of pavement and the 430 didn't show a millimeter of cowl shake. Impressive. The SC 430's well-stocked living room is full of amenities you'd normally find in a Rolls-Royce. Butter-soft leather covers the seats, center stack, and door panels, the last of which is done in French pleat. Rich, European-looking bird's-eye maple finishes the door panels, center console, and waterfall dash. Both driver and passenger are treated to heated, 10-way power bucket seats with dual presets and side airbags. These are ideally sculpted for maximum support and include adjustable lumbar for those with sensitive vertebrae. Large inset gauges are easy to read in any light, and all systems controls are a finger's reach away. Keeping the interior comfy is a dual-zone HVAC system that takes into account the exterior temperature and whether the top is up or down, then automatically adjusts to keep the cabin temperature at the set level.
A Mark Levinson-designed sound system. Between the AM/FM/cassette/six-disc in-dash changer and nine strategically placed speakers, the SC 430 is literally a personal listening room that automatically adjusts sound equalization for top up and down configurations.
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