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The Bold and the Beautiful
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Hippy, but Hip

The exterior of the SC 430 is unusually sensuous for Lexus, which tends to understate drama in its design for those who prefer to remain quietly chic. This car, with sexier haunches than you've ever seen on a Lexus, won't fade into the background.

To get the retractable roof and still retain the sportscar aspect of the vehicle, it was styled with considerable sporty roofline slope, a large sweep of rear fascia integrated into large rear fenders to disguise the storage housing, a low slung hood with blended headlamps that contain turn indicator lights, and even those trendy little squirter mechanisms to keep them clean in bad weather.

The rear trunk lid has just enough of a spoiler to give it a sporty look while presumably being somewhat useful at high speeds.

Cruising next to an arch-competitor and pricier Jaguar XK 8 with its visible ragtop down, uncovered, and looking a bit messy, it was difficult not to feel smug. The SC 430's hardtop convertible package fits together neatly with its well-thought-out, one-button operation and gives a finished look in that mode.

The Lexus SC 430, as destined for U.S. buyers, has a base price of just under $59,000, plus $545 for destination charges, effectively eliminating anyone who might want to use it as a family car, despite the child seat anchors in the rear seat.

But the wonderful sound system, with astounding clarity, would be worth having an SC 430 just by itself. Even when dampened to reduce the high and low frequencies, every whisper, every shout is clearly audible. And the sound almost imperceptibly begins to adjust for variations in outside noise. It dampens down immediately when the convertible top is closed again.

How about a nice BMW for lunch?

This reentry into the performance sport coupe market should give Lexus a boost it has needed since its nearly decade-old coupe predecessor SC 400 faded from popularity. Even Lexus aficionados are vulnerable to the lure of the latest and greatest temptations from a growing list of competitors, including Mercedes CLK 430 convertible coupe. But undoubtedly, if one enthusiast who nicknamed it a "BMW eater" is correct, the 12,000 initially slated for the U.S. market will go quickly.

What Lexus has done, has managed to create a performance car that lookers can't stop gawking at and test drivers don't want to give back.

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