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First Drive: Lexus LS500 and LC500 Convertible

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Recently, AutoAdvisor flew to the beautiful province of Mpumalanga, to sample the recently revised Lexus LS500 and LC500 Convertible. Touching down at the airport, we were met by the seductive styling of the luxury brand’s latest convertible. Angular, voluptuous and downright beautiful, we hopped into the sumptuous cabin, dropped the electrically operated cloth top and fired up the naturally-aspirated V8.

LC500 CONVERTIBLE

One of the flagship models, the LC500 sits at the summit of Lexus. Just one model is available, at R2 345 500. For your money, the Lexus is packed with luxury features. The quilted, semi-aniline leather seats are heated, ventilated and provide neck heating - a must-have for top down motoring in winter. Adding to the opulence is a 13-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, a 10.3-inch infotainment system with a touchpad, electrically operated seats (with memory settings for the driver) and LED headlamps (with cornering lights and auto high-beam) are standard, among myriad other features.

PERFORMANCE

Powering this gorgeous two-seater is a naturally-aspirated 5.0-litre V8. With 351 kW 540 Nm of torque, the LC500 convertible sends its power to the rear wheels via a 10-speed automatic transmission. Despite being blessed with a creamy smooth ride quality, the LC500 drop-top features a hollow rear stabiliser bar, rear performance damper and what the brand calls Active Cornering Assist.

TECHNOLOGY

This makes the LC500 surprisingly agile. Courtesy of the muscular V8 engine, it sprints to 100 km/h in just 4.7 seconds. The brand claims an average fuel consumption of 12.7 L/100 km. Still, the LC500 prefers cruising to apex-clipping - and it shows in the incredible technology on offer. Top down cruising is a refined experience. A standard wind deflector helps wind from entering the interior, while Active Noise Control (called ANC) combines “sound insulation and absorption techniques to help suppress unwanted harshness from entering the cabin.”

LS500 SEDAN

First introduced in 1989, The Lexus LS was designed to take on the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series. The latest model, now facelifted, was also available for us to sample, alongside the LC500 convertible.

PERFORMANCE

Powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine (mated to a 10-speed auto) the LS500 makes for supremely hushed and quiet progress. With 310 kW, it's a powerful car - but from inside, it's all silence and dignified progress. Eschewing the violent acceleration of a performance car, it moves with elegance and grace. Still, 0-100 km/h is despatched in 5 seconds, not far off rivals from BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

RIDE QUALITY AND LUXURY

Most important in a car like this is the way it rides. It is plush, soaking up bumps and undulations with confidence. Despite a beautifully detailed dashboard and interior, the best place to be seated in the LS is at the rear. It's got acres of legroom, allowing even the tallest passenger to stretch out in comfort. Designed for chauffeur duty, it's a serene place to while away the miles - with an experienced driver utilising all 310 kW, of course.

The interior detailing is gorgeous, putting a Lexus spin on the traditional luxury car cabin. It shies away from the conservative design of the European competition, with a very dramatically-styled cabin. A 12.3-inch infotainment system now, for the first time, incorporates a touch interface for the first time. The interior quality is also something remarkable. It is beautifully screwed together, with an overriding sense of luxury, solidity and fine workmanship.

VERDICT

Lexus' latest vehicles are, quite simply, masterpieces. Beautiful to look at, incredible to sit in and awe-inspiring to drive, both the LC500 convertible and the LS500 sedan are refined, elegant and sophisticated. Our favourite of the two has to be the convertible, for its gorgeous looks and thrilling V8 engine. That being said, if you're a businessman who requires an elegant, subtle and supremely comfortable sedan, the LS is a compelling offering.

PRICING

LS500 Luxury - R2 204 200

LS500 F-Sport - R2 397 900

LC500 Convertible - R2 345 500

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