Cars

2020 Lexus LC 500 Convertible: 9 Need-to-Know Facts About the 8 Series Fighter

For the recent Los Angeles Auto Show, Lexus flew in all of the top engineering brass responsible for designing the 2020 Lexus LC 500 Convertible to explain the nuances of what makes this gorgeous drop-top a worthy rival for cars like the BMW 8 Series. Good listeners that we are, we picked up on a few juicy LC convertible tidbits—and probed with a few questions of our own. Read on to see what we learned about the long-awaited roofless LC:

Will There Be A High-Performance LC-F?

We asked Lexus folks about the likelihood that the company would introduce a high-performance “F” variant of the LC convertible to go up against BMW’s M8, the hot-dog version of the LC’s 8 Series rival. We know there is an LC-F coupe on the horizon, but Lexus officials have yet to formally acknowledge the project. Pressed over a hypothetical LC-F convertible, those same Lexus representatives expressed concerns over packaging go-fast gear into the roofless LC body. Fair. We asked about the possibility of dusting off the LFA’s V-10 and shoehorning it in, but were told not to hold our breath. There’s not much space in there to accommodate two extra cylinders. If or when an LC-F officially appears, expect it to use a twin-turbo V-8.

Why no Hybrid?

While an LC-F remains a hypothetical at this point, the LC coupe is currently offered with a hybrid powertrain (and dubbed the LC 500h). So, it stands to reason that Lexus could easily create an LC 500h hybrid convertible, right? Not so! The convertible’s soft top folds down right into the space where the hybrid coupe’s battery lives, in the forward portion of the trunk. The good news is that the convertible top’s cubby takes up the same amount of space as does the LC 500h’s battery, so those two LCs have identical trunk space.

How’s the Torsional Rigidity?

Cutting the roof off a coupe of this size generally halves the torsional rigidity of the body structure. Lexus recovers 75-80 percent of that lost rigidity by installing a series of diagonal steel reinforcements to the underbody and adding sheer plates. The engineers stressed that what’s more important than the lb-ft/degree twist number is the fact that the handling demeanor of the coupe is retained, at least at the speeds and handling limits typically probed by convertible users. Long-time Toyota-Lexus racing driver and ride/handling consultant Scott Pruett assures us the car responds superbly to a brisk drive on a twisty road.

Reduced Un-sprung Weight

The LC 500 Convertible team was very concerned about limiting the Convertible’s weight gain (to roughly 200 pounds) and preserving the coupe’s weight distribution, which we’ve consistently measured at 53 percent front/47 percent rear. Some of the weight savings was in un-sprung weight, which improves ride quality as well. Up front, steel control arms were replaced with aluminum, while in the rear the wheels were machined to remove excess weight. In the end, the Convertible’s front/rear weight distribution reportedly comes in at 52/48 percent.

Forged Carbon Fiber

The trunk-lid inner panel and the door inner panels are both made of pressed or “forged carbon fiber” and finished in glossy resin that highlights the material. (The coupe also forms these panels of forged carbon fiber.)

Vibration-Absorbing Rear Bumper

The rear bumper beam is attached by vibration-absorbing dampeners that allow the mass of the bumper beam to counteract body vibrations excited by the road inputs to the suspension.

Neck Warmers & Speakers

Front-seat occupants get a little hair-dryer in each headrest, which clicks on whenever the Lexus Climate Concierge decides a bit of neck warmth is called for. The same areas in the rear seats are occupied by speakers, a dozen of which the base stereo uses, while the Mark Levinson system gets 13.

Exclusivity

Lexus expects to sell only 400-600 convertibles per year in the U.S., which should keep them nice and rare on our roadways.

Structural Blue Paint

What’s up with the name on that special Inspiration Series car‘s paint? First, it’s engineered in layers inspired by the way some brilliant blue butterflies like the Morpho achieve their appearance. We’re told it almost completely absorbs red light. If this ends up providing Lidar speed-detection stealth, that paint could easily pay for itself.

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