Toyota's luxury division launched its first convertible � a sport-luxury 2+2 coupe with a retractable steel roof � as a 2002 model and said its styling was inspired by the French Riviera.
An upgraded navigation system on 2005 models features new graphics. New shock absorbers are intended to improve handling and ride comfort.
Last year's Pebble Beach Edition featured Ecru leather upholstery and black maple wood trim. Approximately 600 Pebble Beach Editions will be built for 2005.
Instead of a fabric top, the SC 430 features a hardtop that retracts in less than 25 seconds. Created with a low roofline and sleek profile, the design was subjected to wind testing to ensure it met Lexus' standards for noise, vibration and harshness. A fully independent suspension uses double wishbones. High-intensity-discharge headlights and fog lights are installed.
The SC 430 is compact in size; it has a 103.1-inch wheelbase and stands 53.1 inches tall. A tire-pressure monitor and 18-inch wheels are installed. A rear spoiler and run-flat tires are optional.
Considered a 2+2 coupe, the SC 430 has a tiny backseat that's meant mainly for luggage, which is helpful considering the sliver-shaped trunk. Rear legroom is nearly nonexistent. Cargo volume totals 8.8 cubic feet, but installing run-flat tires and deleting the spare yields a tad more space.
Natural leather and wood are used to recreate what Lexus calls "the comfort of a luxurious living room." A 240-watt nine-speaker Mark Levinson stereo with an in-dash CD changer is standard. A wind dampener is installed behind the rear seat. Standard equipment includes a navigation system, heated 10-way power front seats and a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel.
Under the Hood
The SC 430's all-aluminum 300-horsepower, 4.3-liter V-8 features Variable Valve Timing with intelligence; it generates 325 pounds-feet of torque. Shift Logic Control in the five-speed-automatic transmission can hold gearing under certain conditions. Intuitive Powertrain Control is supposed to help ensure linear acceleration.
Seat-mounted side-impact airbags and daytime running lights are standard. Other safety features include antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, traction control and Vehicle Stability Control.
Luxury takes precedence over sportiness, but the SC 430 has a healthy dose of each attribute. Steering demands a bit of effort. Occupants feel some bumps more curtly than expected, but there's no overreaction from the firm yet largely yielding suspension.
No road noise of consequence disturbs the experience. The metal top raises and lowers silently, and it's a marvel to watch. Strong performance befits the large V-8, but the automatic transmission suffers a slight delay in downshifts when the pedal is pushed to the floor. Otherwise, its operation is barely discernible. The seats are exceptionally comfortable but firm.