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The Bold and The Beautiful
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Tight Squeeze

You could almost say the trunk is a trunk. With the top up, you could squeeze in perhaps an overnight bag, or briefcase at the very bottom. But carefully. Lexus doesn't want anything even touching the shelf that defines space needed for the roof when the top is down. And it simply won't work unless a pressure sensitive panel defining the roof storage area is in place. Besides, the center-mounted, in-truck spare makes it difficult to slide anything under the roof tray anyway. With runflat tires eliminating the need for a spare, there's a little breathing room for storing things.

Lexus officials said they wouldn't bring a convertible to market until they had mastered a version with sufficient rigidity and strength around the passenger cage. That left only one option - a retractable hardtop version. Lexus isn't the kind of car company to allow the perceptible shimmy from a less structurally sound ragtop convertible mar its reputation for strength, quiet, confidence and above all, prestige.

Inside, the wood trim comes in two colors, including a muted blondish shade. It gives a smooth, uncluttered look to the instrument panel and center seat console where it's used on doors that can cover the navigation system, controls for the nine-speaker sound system, ash tray and even two usable cupholders. Paired with one of three shades of leather, including a saddle leather tan, the appearance is so rich it could push the SC 430 into the prestige category on its own.

An auxiliary 12-volt power supply is hidden on the passenger side of the center seat console.

Road Ready

For the most part, the 4.3 liter V8 engine it shares with the Lexus LS luxury and GS sports sedans wasn't a disappointment. With torque boosted to 320 foot-pounds, it had the low-end punch to blow away from stoplights and allow easy maneuvering around tight traffic conditions with just a feather light touch on the accelerator.

The steering, however, I found a little less than optimum. It was a bit too light for my taste for lower speed driving and didn't give as much feel of connecting with the road as I would like.

Please, please will someone take pity on the driver and add a shut-off control for the sideview mirrors when the SC 430 is driven in reverse. Those little motors that tip the sideview mirrors down to focus on curbside are just dandy - if you're pulling into a parking spot with a curb. But there are other times when one needs to go into reverse and then it's either distracting or the reflection in the mirror isn't where it's needed at that time.

I wish auto makers would give the driver more options for turning off functions when they just plain get in the way or aren't needed - including overhead dome lights that put one on a brightly lit stage as soon as a door is opened. That, thankfully, is not a problem in the SC 430.

The vehicle, with its intelligent Variable Valve Timing system, has plenty of low end power. But since I wasn't able to test it at top speeds (around 155 miles and hour according to Lexus) in highly-demanding situations, I can't comment on its handling in such situations.

The ride courses I took were too slow and too full of traffic to give it the kind of performance testing for nimbleness and control that such a vehicle demands

Hippy, but Hip -- >
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