The Lexus SC430 is fast gaining status as an iconic model given the fact that it started the modern luxury sport hardtop segment nearly a decade ago, and that it still retains its original unique body style that pays homage to the stunning yachts found on the waters of the French Riviera and Mediterranean Sea.
The 2009 Lexus SC430 is a solid, luxury, sport 2+2 grand touring car in the best tradition. It is fun and easy to drive and gives the owner four-season viability with the top up when driving in cold and inclement weather, and the top down to enjoy the warming rays of the sun and cool effects of the wind.
I tested the 6th. Annual SC430 Pebble Beach Edition which is limited to just 300 vehicles and receives an exterior/interior color combination with a custom Mercury Metallic exterior paint and an exclusive two-tone Ecru and Black leather interior with Black Bird’s-eye maple wood trim. The body sports special-edition brushed chrome badging on the front fenders and center console, and an Ecru ‘The Lone Cypress’ logo embroidered onto black carpeted floor mats. It also features a color-keyed rear spoiler, 18X8 inch Machined Tourmaline alloy wheels, and white illuminated scuff plates. All season run-flat or summer run-flat tires are optional.
The Lexus partnership with Pebble Beach Resorts initiated in August of 2003 with the debut of the first Lexus SC430 Pebble Beach Edition. This established Lexus as the Preferred Vehicle of Pebble Beach Resorts and has offered Pebble Beach Limited Editions owners a variety of amenities designed to evoke the exclusivity that comes with an excursion to the Pebble Beach Resorts.
Presently, guests of Pebble Beach Resorts can experience the on-going partnership with complimentary time in a Lexus test-drive vehicle or transportation service to and from several locations in a Lexus Guest Transportation vehicle.
The rear-wheel-drive SC430 is powered by an aluminum DOHC 4.3 liter V8 engine that produces 288hp at 5,600rpm and 317lb.ft. of torque at just 3,400rpm. Power is channeled through a six speed automatic transmission enabling the SC430 to accelerate from 0-60mph in just 5.8sec. The SC430 is the epitome of Lexus smoothness and graceful response. Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) enhances torque over a broad speed range giving you quick acceleration when you need it most. The Intuitive Powertrain Control works with the Electronic Throttle Control to help smooth out acceleration from a standing start. The six-speed automatic transmission employs Shift Logic Control to respond to road grade and acceleration/deceleration activity, holding down gears or downshifting on hills to help provide optimal engine power or a braking effect. A manual sequential-shift feature allows you to enjoy a more involved driving experience when desired and to help with quicker acceleration and braking.
Engineered as a convertible from the start, the SC430’s steel unibody structure provides outstanding strength whether the retractable hardtop is up or down. Extensive bracing including a hanger brace, rocker brace, tunnel brace, toe-in brace and a rear-mount brace help make the structure extra rigid and allowed Lexus to tune the front and rear double-wishbone independent suspension to deliver both responsive handling and its signature smooth ride. Up front also includes coil springs, gas-filled shock absorbers, high-mount upper arms and a stabilizer bar. The rear setup features coil springs, gas-filled shock absorbers, a stabilizer bar and strut rods. You also have a choice of settings to fit your current driving mood. By pushing a toggle switch with Comfort/Sport/Snow, you can tailor the response of the powertrain and suspension to how you want the car to respond to your commands.
The 53/47 f/r weight distribution helps to further the optimal balance for confident steering response and its impressive agility, aided by the 18X8 inch wheels wrapped with 245/40ZR18 inch high-performance tires.
An array of dynamic electronic features help contribute to safe, precise handling in the SC430: a four-sensor, four-channel ABS, Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA) and Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) with traction control. EBD monitors all four wheels during braking and varies brake pressure according to the load on each wheel. The SC430’s power-assisted brake system feature 11.7 inch vented discs up front clamped with dual-piston calipers, and 12.1 inch solid discs in the rear clamped with single-piston calipers.
VSC helps control lateral traction while cornering on slippery or dry road surfaces by using a combination of throttle intervention and applying individual wheel braking to help control and discrepancy between where you are steering and where the vehicle is heading. You can shut off the VSC when you want to let the rear slip out a little as you tear through tight turns on the open road or in the mountains. The vehicle speed-sensing progressive power rack & pinion steering system gives great feedback from the road surface and is right on center with very quick response to your inputs.
The 2009 Lexus SC430 comes luxuriously equipped as there are no optional extra offered for the interior. Front occupants enjoy the comfort of soft leather with 10-way, power-adjustable heated seats. Reflecting the brand’s meticulous attention to convenience, the steering wheel automatically tilts away when the ignition is turned off to make exiting and entry easier, then returns to its memory position when the car is started again.
The SC430’s advanced climate-control system is specifically designed for a convertible environment. The system adjusts airflow and temperature automatically, differentiating between top-up and top-down driving needs and taking into account the outside temperature to help ensure occupant comfort.
Like all Lexus models, the SC430 offers advanced technology that enhances the driving and ownership experience, yet is easy to use. The standard Lexus Navigation System offers a voice-command feature that allows hands-free use and provides easy-to-understand graphics and phone-number-based address recognition. The central wide-format color display offers a split-screen option and also adjusts seven-degrees up or down to help minimize sun glare when the top is down.
The SC430 comes equipped with the Mark Levinson Premium Audio System with a brushed aluminum face-plate similar to the high-end home version. Just like the climate control system, the SC430’s Mark Levinson system is configured to self-optimize performance for top-up or top-down driving. Designed by one of the audio field’s legendary innovative brands, the SC430’s system uses a seven-channel DSP 240-watt amplifier and nine strategically located speakers to turn the car’s interior into a private concert hall. System equalization automatically adjusts when the roof is lowered to compensate for the changed acoustics and ambient noise levels, and it returns to its original levels when the roof is raised.
The Lexus SC430 brings classic luxury, performance and high technology together in an elegantly styled hardtop convertible. With the push of a button, the retractable hardtop transforms the SC430 from a sleek coupe into an elegant convertible in less than 25 seconds. Narrow and precise body gaps, a Lexus hallmark, accentuate the SC430’s sleek, elegant lines highlighted with a chrome slat front grille, cats-eye adaptive HID headlamps with washers, and fog-lamps fixed at the sides of the lower bumper behind a chrome bar. The unit rear shape features three-pod design LED rear combination lamps, LED brake lights, and a stainless steel dual exhaust system with exposed 3 inch wide chrome tips.
A rear wind deflector helps reduce wind wrap during top down driving conditions.
Good design continues underneath where four underbody covers (engine, floor, front and rear) enhance aerodynamic performance. Sound damping material inside rear wheel wells, under the floor, rocker molding and retractable hardtop contribute to low noise levels in the SC430. Other exterior body enhancing features include weldable vibration damping ‘sandwich’ steel-resin-steel sheets in dash, PVC undercoating, wheel arch edge protectors, extensive use of anti-chipping paint on lower body panels, and super olefin polymer plastic used for bumpers and lower rocker panels.
The SC430’s ultra-luxurious interior, with its plush combination of natural materials including leather and wood trim, took inspiration from high-end, custom-made yachts.
Semi-aniline leather trims not only the seats but also the door armrests, console cover, and front seat-belt guides. This hand-stitched leather trim is available in three colors-black, Camel and Ecru.
Genuine wood trim is used liberally throughout the SC430 interior, including the center console, doors and instrument panel, plus a matching wood-trim shift knob and a wood-trim cover panel for the dual front cup holders. A dark brown wood called Espresso Bird’s-eye Maple is paired with the Camel color leather-trim interior. Walnut wood trim is used with the Ecru and black-trim interiors.
Electrically powered, wood-trimmed access doors conceal both the audio system head unit and the standard navigation system. The sporty instrument-gauge panel is complemented by the same steering-wheel design used in the GS sedans. This luxurious wood and leather-trimmed wheel features a power tilt-telescope adjustment along with integrated cruise control and audio control buttons.
Standard equipment not mentioned above includes heated/dual powered remote side mirrors, self-dimming rearview mirror, rear window defogger, water repellent side door glass, variable intermittent windshield wipers, headlight washers, chrome inside door handles, net pocket located by the front passenger lap vent, cut pile carpeting and full trunk trim, seatback pockets behind front seats, dual lighted vanity mirrors, compass/outside temperature readouts, electronic programmable garage door opener, power windows with auto up/down feature, automatic door locks, dual map lamps, illuminated glove box, tool kit, first aid kit located in the trunk, remote electric trunk lid release and fuel door release, and a chrome ‘L’ emblem behind the front headrests.
Standard safety features include front airbags, seat-mounted side airbags, seat belt pretensioners and force limiters, three-point safety belts, four-sensor tire pressure monitor system, front and rear crush zones, daytime running lamps, dual side door impact beams, top tether anchors for rear child seats. To enhance safety when backing up I would recommend either sensors or a TV backup camera.
Although ‘long in the tooth’ with no real design changes since it’s introduction, for just $67,800.00 the 2009 Lexus SC430 is still one of the best luxury sport hardtop convertibles on the market today.
Price: MSRP $66,805
Type: Compact Convertible
Where Built: Japan
EPA Class: Mini Compact Cars
Length: 178.5 in.
Width: 72 in.
Height: 53.1 in.
Wheel Base: 103.1 in.
Ground Clearance: 5.6 in.
Curb Weight: 3840 lbs.
Gross Weight: 4530 lbs.
Front Head Room: 37.2 in.
Front Hip Room: 55.7 in.
Front Shoulder Room: 53.8 in.
Rear Head Room: 33.9 in.
Rear Shoulder Room: 46.6 in.
Rear Hip Room: 49.5 in.
Front Leg Room: 43.6 in.
Rear Leg Room: 27.1 in.
Luggage Capacity: 8.8 cu. ft.
Maximum Cargo Capacity: 9 cu. ft.
Maximum Seating: 4
Acceleration (0-60 mph): 5.8 sec.
Base Number of Cylinders: 8
Base Engine Size: 4.3 liters
Base Engine Type: V8
Horsepower: 288 hp
Max Horsepower: 5600 rpm
Torque: 317 ft-lbs.
Max Torque: 3400 rpm
Drive Type: RWD
Turning Circle: 35.4 ft.
Fuel Tank Capacity: 19.8 gal.
EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway/Combined)
Automatic: 16 mpg / 23 mpg / 19 mpg
Range in Miles:
Automatic: 316.8 mi. / 455.4 mi. / 376.2 mi.