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Though not particularly invigorating to drive, the 2006 Lexus SC 430 counters with a serene top-down experience for a price considerably less than the competition.
Long list of comfort and convenience features, beautifully finished interior, silky V8 engine, retractable hardtop, Lexus quality.
Sparse cargo space, cramped (and nearly useless) rear seats, doesn't inspire anything more than leisurely cruising.
Available SC 430 Convertible Models
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For 2006, the Lexus SC 430 receives a new six-speed automatic transmission and adaptive front headlamps. Updated exterior styling includes a new front fascia, wheels and taillamps. Inside, the SC gets a new gauge cluster, shift plate and revised trim.
Now in its fifth year, the SC 430 is the first and only Lexus convertible. The SC name dates back to 1992, when the first Lexus coupe debuted. The SC 300 and SC 400 coupes were decent cars, though sales decreased alarmingly over the years as the platform aged and younger and more modern luxury coupes sprang up. Beyond that, consumers shopping competing models could choose between a two-door with a solid roof or a ragtop for open-air motoring on sunny days. The Lexus SC came only with a fixed roof. After nearly a decade on the market, during which time precious few updates were made, the car was allowed to fade quietly into the sunset.
The Lexus SC 430 is far from bland, though not quite as palatable to conservative tastes. A radical departure for the normally staid manufacturer, the SC 430 has been dubbed the "jewel of Lexus," and has been penned to appeal to your emotional right-brain side. Designers drew inspiration by lolling about France's Cote d'Azur, studying the architecture and familiarizing themselves with the lifestyle of their target customers. The normally reserved automaker has taken a risk here, and the SC is the most radical styling exercise ever to wear a Lexus nameplate.
On the inside, the Lexus SC 430 presents a glorious display of perfectly crafted wood trim, supple leather and all the high-tech features you would expect in a high-end luxury vehicle. The Mark Levinson audio system, in particular, is a delight. For top-down motoring, the SC's power-operated hard top can be quietly lowered in about 21 seconds and is perfectly airtight when raised. Our only real problem with the SC's setup is the miniscule trunk. With the top down, there's not much room for anything in back, so be prepared to travel light. Despite having gone five years without a major redesign, there's a lot to like about the 2006 Lexus SC 430. Those who like the car's exterior styling and leisurely approach to handling dynamics will likely be smitten. Other luxury convertible shoppers, however, might find more athletic competitors to their liking.
Though available in just one body style and trim level, the Lexus SC 430 convertible comes packed with luxurious amenities. Standard features include 18-inch wheels, adaptive HID headlights, a navigation system, supple leather seats with driver and passenger memory functions, an astounding 240-watt nine-speaker premium audio system, a sophisticated climate control system and either bird's eye maple or walnut trim. With a press of a button, the aluminum-alloy roof rises to provide shelter from the vagaries of the environment. Once closed, the top seals tight to transform the SC 430 into a hardtop coupe possessing superior structural rigidity and little wind noise while cruising down the freeway. Options on the SC 430 include run-flat tires, a rear spoiler and a limited-edition Pebble Beach package that includes unique exterior and interior-trim coloring and a custom two-piece luggage set.
The Lexus SC 430 is powered by a 4.3-liter V8 engine.. It produces 288 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque. It's connected to a six-speed automatic transmission that drives the rear wheels. Zero-to-60-mph acceleration comes in at around 6.5 seconds.
Four-wheel antilock disc brakes with a panic-assist feature and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) are standard, as are seatbelt pre-tensioners and side-impact airbags. The Lexus convertible also comes with traction control and stability control. The optional run-flat tires allow the car to be driven up to 100 miles at 55 mph without air pressure.
The interior is the highlight of the Lexus SC 430. Beautiful to look at, the cockpit is filled with real wood and leather, and spring-loaded wooden covers can hide much of the center stack. From a more practical standpoint, however, the SC falls a little short. Owners will find that the trunk doesn't offer much room, as it holds just 8.8 cubic feet of cargo. Ordering the optional run-flat tires and ditching the spare bumps the trunk size up to 9.4 cubic feet. Keep in mind that these numbers are with the top up; with the top retracted, luggage space is very scarce. Additionally, the SC's undersized rear seats are basically just for show rather than actual use.
The 4.3-liter V8 allows the 2006 Lexus SC 430 to leap from nearly any speed. It climbs to redline with no discernable strain. The exhaust note is nearly imperceptible, a trait that's either pleasing or disappointing depending on your point of view. The suspension setup echoes the traits of the drivetrain, filtering out every bump and ripple in the road in an attempt to maintain civility at all times. This, in turn, results in less road feel and reduced driver confidence when pushing the SC 430 hard through corners.
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