BEAUTIFUL? Yes. Thrilling? That too. And it's what the marketing people like to call reassuringly expensive.

The Lexus LC 500 Convertible is quite simply a magnificent creation, combining a luxurious interior, superb ride quality and wonderful engine with wind-in-the-hair exhilaration.

It's certainly not all about performance and handling, even though the 5.0-litre V8 engine and exemplary ride quality give both the option of cruising and developing crushing speed in equal measure.

This car makes you feel good inside, even just to look at. You hunger to slot yourself behind the wheel and reignite your passion for beautiful cars with stonking great engines.

With a price tag north of £90,000, it is also a car for the privileged few with bulging wallets. There's a price to pay too for that huge engine and V8 roar, and that comes at the petrol pumps. Don't expect to achieve more than 24 miles to the gallon.

But for those who can afford this level of luxury and performance with the bonus of roof-down motoring, it's hard to think of another car in its class that offers so much.

There are better rival cars to drive, such as the Porsche 911 Cabriolet, but the LC 500 should be considered a cruiser rather than a sports car despite it being able to propel you from 0 to 62mph in a mere five seconds and on to a top speed of 168mph.

Lexus has form here in the shape of the LFA, but the LC 500 marks another landmark for a company that has consistently produced excellent and reliable cars to enjoy.

There's something endearingly illogical about this one. For instance, Lexus might have installed a hybrid powertrain, but it opted instead for the old-school naturally aspirated V8 the only engine available. This type of engine might well become a thing of the past before too long, but for now it continues to enthral.

There's also no logic to the rear seats, which despite being adorned with the same luxury leather as the rest of the cabin, are quite useless as a seating area and should only be viewed as an extension to the 172-litre boot to house a few shopping bags.

The cabin cocoons the driver and passenger in high-grade leather and as you settle in to the electric-powered driver's seat complete with neck warmer -  there's a sense of wellbeing brought on by the exquisite craftmanship.

Press the power button and the senses get a brutal awakening from the V8. It growls, burbles, roars and hums as the 10-speed automatic gearbox carries you seamlessly to the speed limit.

As a derivative of the LC Coupe, the convertible still looks low and mean, despite the trade-off from floating roof line to fabric top.

The standard model should suit most drivers, but the Sport Plus package tested here adds a Torsen limited slip differential, performance dampers and more responsive variable ratio steering.

The fabric roof the first of its kind for Lexus opens and shuts with the minimum of fuss in 15 seconds, and can be opened or shut at speeds of up to 31mph.

The stiff set-up of the convertible means you will occasionally feel poor road surfaces make their presence known, but for the most part there's virtually no intrusion and the experience is one of hushed potency.

There's plenty of grip, too, if you do get carried away with the power on offer 457bhp but this remarkable and very desirable car should really be considered principally as a stunning cruiser.


Lexus LC 500 Convertible Sport Plus Pack

Price: £96,625 (starting price £92,425)

Engine: Five-litre V8 Atkinson cycle petrol, producing 457bhp

Transmission: 10-speed direct shift automatic driving rear wheels

Performance: 0 to 62mph in 5.0 seconds; top speed 168mph

Economy: 24.1mpg combined

CO2 emissions: 275g/km


Performance: *****

Economy: **

Ride/Handling: *****

Space/Practicality: ***

Equipment: *****

Security/Safety: *****

Value For Money: ***