Lexus Announces Plans for First Convertible
20 April 2000Lexus Announces Plans for First Convertible
NEW YORK, April 20 Lexus announced today that it will introduce its first convertible, the SC 430. Due in spring 2001, the new two-door will be based on the Lexus Sport Coupe Concept car, which debuted at the 1999 Tokyo Motor Show. The new SC 430 has 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 V8 engine that will make its first U.S. appearance in the redesigned LS 430 on sale this fall. The SC 430 engine will produce a potent 300 horsepower. "Many customers have told me their dream is a Lexus convertible, and now we're happy to help make dreams come true," said Bryan Bergsteinsson, Lexus group vice president and general manager. "The SC 430 will offer buyers a premium luxury convertible with performance, fun and style, as well as all that comes with the Lexus ownership experience." Elegant Design, Inside and Out The SC 430's design will feature 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 center. Chief Exterior Designer Sotiris Kovos sought design inspiration in a location renowned for high-end luxury -- the French Riviera. He spent several weeks there observing people and products to gain insight into truly luxurious lifestyles. "It is very important to be able to design products that fit the overall environment and the taste of the people using them," said Kovos. "We discovered that people there (on the French Riviera) show a clear preference to products and services with a high degree of simplicity, character, sophistication and quality." Among the sights along the Riviera that inspired Kovos were the many high-performance luxury yachts. The SC 430 will share an essential trait with those yachts -- all season pleasure. Passengers on a luxury yacht can enjoy sunbathing in fair weather, while finding security and comfort inside during inclement weather. The retractable aluminum hardtop provides similar versatility in the SC 430. A simple push of one button will raise or lower the roof, while still leaving room in the trunk for a set of golf clubs. The 2+2 layout will offer room in the back seats for small children or extra cargo. A long wheelbase and short overhangs will give the SC 430 a muscular stance, highlighted by 18-inch wheels. The forward-positioned roof will combine prominent front hood styling and pronounced wheel arches to convey a powerful sense of forward motion. Uncluttered sides will render a classically elegant look, while the stylish design of the head and taillights will also contribute to the luxurious yet sporty attitude. While the exterior was being perfected in Europe, Satoru Kuno was in Japan working to match the purpose and elegance of the exterior lines with an equally emotional interior. Kuno and his team chose to emphasize the natural beauty of leather and wood, rather than creating unnatural forms from plastic moldings. "I started by looking at simple materials with intrinsic beauty -- materials like natural leather and wood," said Kuno. "These materials have unique, natural constraints on how they can be manipulated, so rather than using plastic that can be freely molded, I chose to work with materials that have limits." He describes the results as "a clean-cut feeling of luxury." Powerful Beauty The new rear-wheel drive SC 430 convertible will be powered by a 300-horsepower aluminum, double overhead-cam, 4.3-liter V8 engine with Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence (VVT-i), coupled with a five-speed automatic transmission. Front and rear double wishbone independent suspension attached to the chassis will minimize vibrations and contribute to a smooth ride. Lexus created a purpose-built high-performance platform for the SC 430. By designing the car as a convertible from the start, engineers optimized its structure to provide excellent rigidity whether the retractable hardtop is raised or lowered. The structural solidity also will allow Lexus to tune the suspension to deliver responsive handling and smooth ride compliance at the same time. Given that luxury amenities are the benchmark in the luxury category, the SC 430 will offer a multitude of convenience features including easy-to-read analog gauges, a navigation system, premium audio system, advanced climate control and sporty leather seats with memory functions for driver and passenger. Pure Luxury Amenities At its inception, Lexus introduced new standards for factory-installed audio systems. To raise the ante for automotive audio again, Lexus worked with home audio experts Mark Levinson to develop a new type of sound system for the SC 430. Nine strategically located speakers will turn the interior into a personal listening room that makes every seat in the car "the best seat in the house." 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 SC 430 will feature an advanced climate control system that will allow this 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 will take 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 freeway cruising. When driving in cooler weather with the top down, the system will target the foot area, where it forms pockets of heat, and the lap area, which immediately warms the upper legs. Complete Lexus Line The SC 430, which will replace the current SC 400, will be Lexus' third new product in a year. The IS 300 compact sport sedan debuts this summer and the LS 430 premium luxury sedan arrives in the fall. Lexus' product line-up also includes the ES 300 entry-level luxury sedan, GS 400/300 high-performance sport sedans, RX 300 mid-size luxury sport utility vehicle (SUV) and the LX 470 premium luxury SUV. Lexus vehicles are available at 191 dealerships, which have created a tradition of remarkable service, quality and customer satisfaction.