Lexus SC430 – The Ultimate In Convertible Elegance

27 September 2000

Paris International Motor Show Press Kit

  • SC430 combines stunning avant-garde styling, convertible capability and legendary Lexus refinement
  • Top driving experience guaranteed by muscular 4.3 litre, 32-valve, V8 engine with intelligent Variable Valve Timing (VVT-i)
  • Retractable hard top combines open-air driving pleasure with Lexus standards of comfort and requirement – coupe and cabrio in 1
  • Careful airflow management ensures highest levels of high-speed, top down comfort and stability

The new Lexus SC430, the first-ever convertible model from the marque, makes its European debut at the Paris Salon D’Automobile. The car is based on the concept that was first shown at Tokyo Motorshow ’99. The SC430 takes Lexus into new territory, with an elegant design and a retractable hardtop that will transform it from a 2+2 coupe into a convertible with the push of a button. The production model will be powered by the new Lexus 4.3-litre V8 engine that is also making its debut at Paris in the new LS 430 and GS 430 saloons. The SC430 engine will produce 283 DIN hp (Target).

“The Lexus SC430 is very exciting, also very European” said Ian Mathews, Product Manager, Lexus Europe. “The exterior is designed by our European Studio, and the car is engineered very much with European driving conditions in mind, placing a great emphasis on refined performance, high-speed stability and driving pleasure. We have benchmarked the model against the best Europe can offer in that particular segment, and after driving the prototype, I am very excited indeed.”

Elegant Design, Inside and Out

The SC430’s design features functional beauty with sleek lines and intelligent packaging. Lexus designers from Europe and Japan worked together to create the convertible. The exterior was crafted by the company’s European design centre. Designers there sought design inspiration in a location renowned for high-end luxury – the French Riviera. They spent several weeks there observing people and products to gain insight into truly luxurious lifestyles.

The retractable aluminium hardtop provides outstanding versatility in the SC430. A simple push of one button will raise or lower the roof. The 2+2 layout will offer room in the back seats for small children or extra luggage.

A long wheelbase and short overhangs give the SC430 a muscular stance, highlighted by 18-inch wheels. The forward-positioned roof combines prominent and distinctively Lexus front-end styling and pronounced wheel arches to convey a powerful sense of forward motion. Uncluttered sides render a classically elegant look, while the stylish design of the head- and taillights also contribute to a luxurious yet sporting attitude.

While the exterior was being perfected in Europe, designer were working in Japan too, to match the purpose and elegance of the exterior lines with an equally emotive, yet ergonomic interior. The designer team chose to emphasise the natural beauty of leather and wood, rather than creating unnatural forms from plastic mouldings, even visiting the Yamaha musical instrument factory to learn more of their special timber moulding techniques.

They started by looking at simple materials with intrinsic beauty – materials like natural leather and wood, which have unique, natural constraints on how they can be manipulated. They give a much more natural, clean-cut feeling of luxury.

Powerful Beauty

The new rear-wheel drive SC430 convertible is powered by an aluminium, double overhead-cam, 4.3-liter V8 engine with Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence (VVT-i), complemented by a Super ECT (Electronically Controlled Transmission) five speed, intelligent automatic gearbox which can adapt its gear shift pattern to suit driving style and road conditions.

The transmission is linked to the computerised engine management system, to momentarily reduce torque for even less discernible gear changes. It benefits from the Torque-Activated Powertrain control, first introduced on the LS 430 and GS430.

Lexus created a purpose-built high-performance platform for the SC430. By designing the car as a convertible from the start, engineers optimised its structure to provide excellent rigidity whether the retractable hardtop is raised or lowered.

This structural solidity allows Lexus to attach the front and rear double wishbone independent suspensions directly to the floorpan, as opposed to using wing-mounted struts. The exceptional torsional rigidity of the body minimises vibrations and contributes to a smooth ride. The suspension is also designed to deliver a unique mix of responsive handling and smooth ride compliance over the wide range of road surfaces and driving conditions found in Europe.

“European driving involves higher sustained speeds, harder acceleration and later braking than driving in Japan or the USA, so we aimed to develop the SC430 to respond better in those conditions” said Jos De Boes, General Manager, Vehicle Engineering in Brussels. “We have been able to combine world-leading levels of structural integrity and refinement with genuinely rewarding and fun, driving responses.”

“In particular the car has exceptional high-speed stability with the roof up or down, unlike some of its contemporaries” said De Boes “The roof down aerodynamics, incorporating deflectors which are integrated into its design, allow a comfortable ride at much higher speeds than other models – and the V8 engine sounds wonderful!”

Driver control is further enhanced by electronic traction control (TRC), a four-channel anti-lock braking system (ABS), electronic brake distribution (EBD) with Brake Assist (BA), for the car’s four-wheel ventilated disc brakes and a Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system. To ensure that the braking power is up to the SC430’s high levels of performance, a hydraulic brake booster with double master cylinder has been adopted.

Pure Luxury Amenities

The SC430’s stylish interior offers a multitude of convenience features including easy-to-read analogue gauges, an upgraded Lexus navigation system, a premium audio system, advanced climate control and sporty, power adjustable leather seats with memory functions for driver and passenger.

At its inception a decade ago, Lexus introduced new standards for factory-installed audio systems. To raise the ante once again, the Lexus SC430 will offer the option of the ultimate in car audio, as a result of a unique collaboration with the world’s most exclusive maker of home and concert audio systems, Mark Levinson.

The company, based in Middletown, Connecticut, USA has for the past three decades, created a unique market world-wide for the very best in audio quality. The Mark Levinson audio system features a 440W power amplifier and nine custom-designed Mark Levinson speakers, linked to an AM/FM radio system, cassette and CD player with 6-CD auto changer. The steering wheel will feature controls for essential functions of the system, and an electronic door, similar to a home audio cabinet, will hide the sound system controls.

The SC430 will also feature one of the world’s most advanced climate control systems that will allow occupants of the coupe to experience more top-down driving time than conventional convertibles. The system will adjust airflow and temperature automatically, differentiating between top-up and top-down driving needs.

On hot days, the climate control system takes into account the exterior temperature to ensure occupants stay cool when driving at slower speeds, without overriding the cooling effect of the wind during top-down motorway cruising. When driving in cooler weather with the top down, the system targets the foot and lap areas, where it forms pockets of heat to warm the body and legs.

In an attempt to take even the slightest stress out of driving, the SC430 will come with 245/40Z R18 run-flat tyres. They allow to travel up to 99mph on a punctured tyre, at speeds of up to 62mph. So there is no more need to change tyres by the side of the road.

“This is one of those cars that some people will want no matter what” said Ian Mathews, Product Manager, Lexus Europe. “We have traditionally made some of the best-built, most refined cars in the world. With the SC430, we will be offering one of the greatest, most desirable, driving experiences too.”


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Lexus SC430 – The Ultimate In Convertible Elegance


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