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Driven - Lexus SC430 – on sale now



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Lexus has been issuing superlatives with its SC430 luxury coupe since it was launched in the UK in the summer of 2001 – many of them deserved.

It’s very quick, exceptionally well screwed together, nicely appointed and relatively exclusive (480 were registered here in 2002, 376 last year and about the same number is expected for 2004).

Compared spec for spec with a 645Ci, an SL350 or a XK8 (as most dealers will be inclined to do) the SC430 is a few thousand pounds less expens-ive. But it has never had the driving dynamics of most perceived rivals. In the brand’s relentless pursuit of perfection, the two-plus-two had its suspension retuned last year; now it has been further revised for the 2005 model year with new monotube shock absorbers to help stiffen the ride, improve response and reduce body roll.

Engineers and test drivers will notice the difference, but few customers will: despite its sports car pretentions the SC430 is not an object to be thrown around lightly and is not bought as such. This is a comfortable open/closed tourer that can put on a turn of speed if absolutely necessary.

The new price of £52,385 is up £1,290 but it includes metallic paint (previously a £375 option), and an uprated DVD satnav system.

Strengths: Well equipped, smart roofed, quiet, refined
Weakness: Not as sporty as the performance figures might suggest
Opportunity: Luxury CC that undercuts Germans
Threat: The Germans
The USP: Wind in the hair with minimum wind
Price (OTR): £52,385
Engines: 4.3-litre VVT-i V8 282bhp
Transmission: 5spd auto
Performance: 0-62mph 6.4sec ; top speed 155mph (limited)
Efficiency: 23.5mpg combined, 287g/km CO2 emissions
Service intervals 10,000-mile healthcheck
CAP RV (3yr/30k): £25,500 (50%)
Rivals: Mercedes-Benz SL350, Jaguar XK8, BMW 645Ci

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