- The Washington Times - Friday, October 19, 2001

Want to go 0-to-60 miles per hour in under six seconds in an exciting retractable-top convertible? Then the Lexus 2002 SC 430 is the car for you.

This attractive hardtop convertible turned a lot of heads during my test drive. An eye-catcher, this Lexus is in exceptional demand.

Lexus has allocated 12,000 SC 430 sales in the United States for 2001, and 9,000 are already sold. The SC 430 is a hot item that sells for about $58,455. Fully loaded: $61,295.

The architects have designed forward motion into this vehicle with the use of a low-profile grille and bulging muscular bumper. The headlamps appear as eyes on a face that means business. The appearance is enhanced with sporty five-spoke, 18-inch alloy wheels, plus the illusion of the car becoming wider as the lines run toward the rear.

By holding one button, the driver can convert the car from or to either a hardtop or a convertible. Regardless of whether the roof is up or down, the SC 430 is stunning. That's about the best word I can think of to describe it.

Lexus loaded the SC 430 with both thoughtful features and mechanical niceties. For example, a small, unobtrusive windscreen behind the seats deflects the air that whips over the top and back toward the passengers. As a result, compared to most other convertibles, the interior noise level is much quieter with the top down. This environment allows for conversation at a normal speaking level.

With the top up, the interior is very quiet and ideal for listening to the nine-speaker Mark Levinson sound system that produces excellent quality sound. One unique feature of the Mark Levinson is that the sound readjusts its equalization parameters depending upon an open or closed top.

The interior features unusual colors of wood and leather. Navigational and audio systems are located behind burled walnut or beautiful maple doors. Lexus people said that the leather, which comes from Germany, is called "Comfort Nappa," and the interior coloring was a top priority.

Mechanically, the car is one of the best I've driven. The 32-valve, 4.3-liter V-8 engine produces 300 horsepower. It's both fast and smooth. The car is well balanced, and the handling is unusually quick and precise.

The car has all the latest features pertaining to safety, most notably yaw control. It is loaded with numerous conveniences, including two-position memory seats, tilt/telescopic steering, plus passenger-side power seats. The SC 430 is first class all the way.

This vehicle, two inches shy of 15 feet long, is a compact 2+2, however, the back seat is useless. The trunk doesn't have much storage space either. Those who opt for run-flat tires would increase the storage, as there would be no need to carry a spare tire.

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