Full 2008 Lexus SC 430 Review
What's New for 2008
Now entering its seventh year, this generation of the Lexus SC 430 sees just a few detail changes for 2008. Among them are redesigned and illuminated scuff plates, a black license plate accent and new wheels for the Pebble Beach edition.
The 2008 Lexus SC 430 is something of a rarity for this luxury automaker -- a product that has run past its expiration date. When it debuted for 2002, the SC 430 charmed luxury drop-top shoppers with its retractable hardtop, pleasant personality, fastidious attention to detail and the company's ironclad reputation for quality and reliability.
Those attributes still hold true, but sadly so do the car's drawbacks. The trunk is miniscule, and with the retractable hardtop stowed, what minimal capacity there is shrinks even more. The cramped rear seats are decorative at best -- even little kids will be annoyed at the lack of legroom. And although the SC has a V8 engine, rear-wheel drive and a sport-tuned suspension, it won't appeal to driving enthusiasts due to its boulevard-cruising nature.
Several new or redesigned competitors have arrived since the SC 430's debut, and they offer a more entertaining drive as well as greater performance and practicality. We strongly suggest that those shopping the $50,000 to $70,000 four-place convertible segment also consider the BMW 335i and the Mercedes-Benz CLK550 drop tops. Both Germans offer considerably more fun behind the wheel as well as functional rear seats, and the BMW, besides being less expensive, also sports a retractable hardtop.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Lexus SC 430 is a luxury convertible with a retractable hardtop design. The standard features list is extensive and includes 18-inch wheels, adaptive HID headlights, a navigation system, leather seating, driver and passenger memory functions, a premium audio system, automatic climate control and either bird's eye maple or walnut trim. With a press of a button, one may enjoy the open-air excitement of a roadster or the quietness of a closed coupe.
There are but a handful of options, which consist of a rear spoiler, run-flat tires, different wheels and the Pebble Beach edition. The latter features special paint, unique interior finishing and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Powertrains and Performance
A 4.3-liter V8 engine that produces 288 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque powers the SC 430. Sending the power to the rear wheels is a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control. The SC 430 can hit 60 mph in just 5.8 seconds.
Antilock brakes with brake assist, traction control, stability control, front-seat side airbags and knee-protecting airbags are all standard on the 2008 Lexus SC 430.
Interior Design and Special Features
It takes less than a half minute to transform the SC 430 from a coupe to a convertible. As expected of a Lexus, the cabin is handsome and finely finished, with an abundance of supple leather and lustrous wood throughout. Sadly, just two people can soak in this luxurious ambience, as the two rear seats are essentially a leather-lined package shelf. The trunk is also light on capacity, as it's rated at just 8.8 cubic feet. Choosing the run-flat tires increases that volume to 9.4 cubic feet. Retract the roof and that cargo space decreases even more.
Despite its aging design, the 2008 Lexus SC 430 is still one of the best luxury convertibles for general cruising. The engine spins up to redline effortlessly and the exhaust note is extremely subdued. The suspension filters out every bump in the road, making the plush SC 430 a great road trip choice. The downside, however, is an isolated driving experience that discourages spirited driving on one's favorite curvy roads.