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Road test: Lexus SC430



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The SC430 was the Japanese carmaker’s first convertible, launched in the UK in 2001 to a rather lukewarm reception from some critics, but this tester’s reaction was anything but lukewarm.

The build quality and finish is excellent, and sound insulation is superb. This car is quieter with the top down than many conventionally built cars. However hard you boot the SC430, the V8 engine whispers at you rather than shouts.

Inside, the highly polished wood dashboard and part-wood-rimmed steering wheel look a little obvious, but it somehow works. Hidden behind a wooden panel is the satellite navigation system, which is easy to use once you’re worked out that you have to be in park to set the destination. Lexus isn’t prepared to let you programme the thing while attempting to drive.

The leather seats are as comfortable and luxurious as you’d expect from Lexus, but the two rear seats are really just a glorified storage area. I’m sure there’s enough room for small children in there, but it is certainly not a four-adult car.

The drive is effortless and, though some have criticized it for not having a sports car feel, there’s still a high to be had from putting your foot down and seeing the trees blur. With the top down on a pleasant evening, you’d find the longest route to your destination.

Monotube shock absorbers were used from 2004, and these will be the preferred cars by customers. Before then, the ride was more wallowy.

The electric folding metal roof is simple to use, and quick. It takes less than half a minute to retract. However, there is a little button in the glovebox that has to be engaged before the roof works, and this tester had to resort to reading the manual to discover it.

The SC430 is not cheap, and even on the used market it is holding its value well. There aren’t many around, either, which will enable prices to be held high. If options were available, the ones without the wood interior would undoubtedly be more prized but, unfortunately, that’s a hypothetical situation.

This car turned up at the AM offices on Valentine’s Day, which is rather apt, as it was love at first sight.

Price: £54,690
Engine: 4.3-litre V8; 282bhp @ 5,600rpm, 309lb ft @ 3,500rpm
Performance: 0-62mph: 6.2sec; top speed: 155mph (limited)
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Efficiency: 24.8mpg (combined); 269g/km CO2
CAP RV 3yr/30k: £25,625 (49%)

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