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The 2009 Lexus SC 430 Set New Standards for Luxury Convertibles Review

November 2008
Filed under: LEXUS Car News | LEXUS Headlines
The Lexus SC 430 hardtop convertible enters 2009 with new detail design changes, including turn signals integrated into the side mirrors, an elegant new color and a more convenient open/close switch for the roof. The SC 430 pioneered the retractable hardtop in the prestige luxury segment.

Engine/Transmission/ Drivetrain /Performance
The rear-wheel-drive SC 430 is powered by an aluminum double-overhead cam ( DOHC ) 4.3-liter V8 engine that produces 288 horsepower and 317 lb.-ft. of peak torque. Power is channeled through a six-speed automatic transmission, enabling the SC 430 to accelerate from zero-to-60 mph in just 5.8 seconds.

The SC 430's V8 is the epitome of Lexus smoothness and graceful response. Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) enhances torque over a broad speed range. The Intuitive Powertrain Control works with the Electronic Throttle Control to help smooth out acceleration from a standing start. The SC 430 meets Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle II ( ULEV II) certification.

The six-speed automatic transmission employs Shift Logic Control to respond to road grade and acceleration/deceleration activity, holding gears or downshifting on hills to help provide optimal engine power or a braking effect. A manual sequential-shift feature allows the driver to enjoy a more involved driving experience when desired.

Engineered as a convertible from the start, the SC 430's structure provides outstanding strength whether the retractable hardtop is up or down. The rigid structure allowed Lexus to tune the front and rear double-wishbone independent suspension to deliver both responsive handling and its signature smooth ride. The 53/47 weight distribution helps deliver optimal balance for confident steering response and impressive agility, aided by standard 18-inch wheels with 245/40R18 Z-rated tires. All-season or summer run-flat tires are available as an option, and the SC 430 offers a Liquid Graphite finish 18-inch five-spoke wheel option.

Safety/Security Features
The Lexus SC 430 matches its performance capability with the brand's renowned attention to safety and security. The Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) includes front airbags and front seat-mounted side airbags. A front-passenger-seat weight detection sensor helps determine when the passenger airbag should be deployed. Front-knee airbags help to provide further injury-reduction potential in the SC 430.

An array of dynamic electronic features help contribute to safe, precise handling in the SC 430: a four-sensor, four-channel Anti-lock Braking System ( ABS ); Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD); Brake Assist (BA) and Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) with traction control (TRAC). EBD monitors all four wheels during braking and varies brake pressure according to the load on each wheel.

VSC helps control lateral traction while cornering on slippery or dry road surfaces by using a combination of throttle intervention and applying individual wheel braking to help control any discrepancy between where the driver is steering and where the vehicle is heading. Integrated with VSC, TRAC is designed to help limit rear-wheel spin on slippery road surfaces. Brake Assist is designed to determine if the driver is attempting emergency braking, and if the driver has not stepped firmly enough on the brake pedal to engage ABS, it applies increased braking power until pedal pressure is released.

The SC 430 was among the first Lexus models to offer the advanced Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS) that helps to enhance nighttime visibility in turns and curves. In the SC 430, a central controller calculates the optimum lighting direction based on input from vehicle speed and steering angle and swivels the right and left headlights independently. A self-leveling feature automatically levels the lights depending on road conditions. An AFS on/off switch allows the driver to disengage the system at any time. Other SC 430 safety and visibility features include daytime-running lights, standard fog lamps and projector-type High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights with auto levelers.

The Lexus SC 430 is so luxuriously equipped, that there are no optional extras offered for the interior. Front occupants enjoy the comfort of 10-way, power-adjustable heated seats. Reflecting the brand's meticulous attention to convenience, the steering wheel automatically tilts away when the ignition is turned off to make exiting and entry easier, then returns to its memory position when the car is started again.

The SC 430's advanced climate-control system is specifically designed for a convertible environment. The system adjusts airflow and temperature automatically, differentiating between top-up and top-down driving needs and taking into account the outside temperature to help ensure occupant comfort.

Like all Lexus models, the SC 430 offers advanced technology that enhances the driving and ownership experience, yet is easy to use. The standard Lexus Navigation System offers a voice-command feature that allows hands-free use and provides easy-to-understand graphics and phone-number-based address recognition. The central wide-format color display offers a split-screen option and also adjusts seven degrees up or down to help minimize sun glare when the top is down.

The SC 430 comes equipped as standard with the Mark Levinson Premium Audio System. Like the climate control system, the SC 430's Mark Levinson system is configured to self-optimize performance for top-up or top-down driving. Designed by one of the audio field's legendary innovative brands, the SC 430's system uses a seven-channel DSP 240-watt amplifier and nine strategically located speakers to turn the car's interior into a private concert hall. System equalization automatically adjusts when the roof is lowered to compensate for the changed acoustics and ambient noise levels, and it returns to its original levels when the roof is raised.

Exterior Design
The Lexus SC 430 brings classic luxury, performance and high technology together in an elegantly styled hardtop convertible. With the push of a button, the retractable hardtop transforms the SC 430 from a sleek coupe into an elegant convertible in under 25 seconds.

Narrow and precise body gaps, a Lexus hallmark, accentuate the SC 430â„¢s sleek, elegant lines. Nine exterior colors are offered, with extensive use of anti-chipping paint on lower body panels. Good design continues underneath the SC 430, where four underbody covers (engine, floor, front and rear) enhance aerodynamic performance. Sound damping material inside rear wheel wells, under the floor, rocker moldings and retractable hardtop contribute to low noise levels in the SC 430. The only factory options for the SC 430 include a rear spoiler, run-flat tires and a five-spoke wheel design.

Interior Design
The SC 430's ultra-luxurious interior, with its plush combination of natural materials including leather and wood trim, took inspiration from high-end, custom-made yachts. Semi-aniline leather trims not only the seats but also the door armrests, console cover, and front seat-belt guides. This hand-stitched leather trim is available in three colors, including black, Camel and Ecru.

Genuine wood trim is used liberally throughout the SC 430 interior, including the center console, doors and instrument panel, plus a matching wood-trim shift knob and a wood-trim cover panel for the dual front cup holders. A dark brown wood color called Espresso Birds-eye Maple is paired with the Camel color leather-trim interior. Walnut wood trim is used with the Ecru and black leather-trim interiors.

Electrically powered, wood-trimmed access doors conceal both the audio system head unit and the standard navigation system. The sporty instrument-gauge panel is complemented by the same steering-wheel design used in the GS sedans. This luxurious wood and leather-trimmed wheel features a power tilt-telescope adjustment along with integrated cruise control and audio switches.

All new Lexus vehicles come with a 48-month/50,000-mile basic limited warranty with roadside assistance for 48-months/unlimited miles. Powertrain and restraint system coverage is provided for 72 months/70,000 miles. Corrosion perforation protection is covered for 72 months, regardless of mileage.

Overall Exterior Styling/Body Design
Forward motion silhouette with low-profile grille and pronounced front bumper
Five-spoke 18" aluminum alloy wheels
Front grille with chrome surround
245/40ZR18 Z-rated tires
Temporary spare tire on steel wheel (T145/70R17)
Chrome accents on the front grille, door handles and outside rearview mirrors
Independent halogen high beam lamps
Projector-type High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights
Two-bulb headlamp design
Three-pod design LED rear combination lamps (back-up lights located between exhaust pipes)
LED brake lights
Color-keyed bumpers, door handles and electrochromic outside mirrors
Fully concealed front wiper
Revised front foglamp area; foglamps integrated into lower air intake
Dual exhaust system with exposed chrome tips
Heat and UV light reducing glass
Rear wind deflector helps reduce wind wrap during top down driving conditions

Body Structure and Paint
Electrically powered retractable aluminum hardtop
Narrow and precise body gaps
Four underbody covers (engine, floor, front and rear) create aerodynamic underbody
Sound damping material on rear wheel well, underfloor, rocker molding and retractable hardtop
Hood insulator
Foam rubber body noise isolation inserts
Weldable vibration damping "sandwich" steel-resin-steel sheets in dash
Galvanized steel
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) undercoating
Super Olefin Polymer plastic used for bumpers and lower rocker panels
Five types of underbracing for superior rigidity (hanger brace, rocker brace, tunnel brace, toe-in brace and rear-mount bracket)
Wheel arch edge protectors
Extensive use of anti-chipping paint on lower body panels
Stainless steel exhaust system
Exterior colors: Starfire Pearl, Obsidian, Black Sapphire, Mercury Metallic, Matador Red, Golden Almond Metallic, Smoky Granite Mica, Tiger Eye Mica, Opaline Pearl

Convenience Features
Dual power remote controlled outside mirrors with timed defoggers
Heated outside rearview mirrors
Auto-dimming electro-chromic outside rearview mirrors
Reverse auto tilt-down feature on outside mirrors
Turn signals incorporated into outside mirrors
Rear window defogger with auto-off timer
Water repellent side door glass
Automatic headlight-on system senses ambient light and automatically turns headlights on and off
5 mph front and rear bumpers
Variable intermittent windshield wipers with mist cycle
Wiper blades have graphite coating for smoother operation and longer life
Headlamp washers
Fuel cap hanger with tether


Interior Trim
Interior available in black, Camel or Ecru
Semi-aniline leather-trimmed interior, including seats, door armrests and console cover
Three-spoke wood/leather-trimmed steering wheel with chrome "L" emblem and audio switches
Wood-trimmed shift knob
Electrically powered display doors cover the audio head unit and optional navigation screen
Chrome inside door handles
Black headliner for black interiors; ecru headliner carries over for ecru interior
Dark brown headliner and upper instrument panel for camel interior
Full door trim with integrated armrests, courtesy lights and map pockets
Net pocket located by the front passenger lap vent
Cut pile carpeting and full trunk trim
"Lexus" scuff plates with White Illumination
Floor mats

Multi-adjustable driver and front passenger seats (10-way power adjustments: fore/aft slide, front cushion height, rear cushion height, seatback recline and lumbar; 4-way manual adjustments: headrest height and tilt)
Heated front seats
Leather-trimmed front seat belt presenters
Chrome "L" emblem behind front headrest
Top tether anchors and ISO-FIX lower anchorage brackets in the rear seats
Seatback pockets behind front seats
Integrated rear seat headrests

Instrumentation and Controls
Electronic analog 8,000-rpm tachometer, coolant temperature and fuel level gauges utilizing LED illuminated needles on black faces with dimmer control
Fuel level, coolant level, oil level, oil pressure, battery, engine, parking brake, ABS, air bag, door ajar, seat belt disconnect and tail lamp bulb failure warning lights
Turn signal, headlights-on, high beam, cruise control, overdrive off and transmission power mode indicators
Lights-on indicator
Soft-touch climate and temperature controls and LCD digital temperature setting indicator
Electronic digital odometer with dual trip meters with LCD display
Redesigned combination meter
Compass located on the bottom of the combination meter
Located on the HVAC panel: Trip computer with average mpg, instantaneous mpg, drive time, average mph, outside temperature information and digital quartz clock
Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) on/off switch
Open/close button for convertible top operation

Comfort/Convenience Features
Lexus Navigation System
Electronic programmable garage door opener
Dual front cup holders with wood cover panel
Two position memory system captures settings for outside mirrors, steering wheel tilt/telescope and power seat functions for both driver and passenger, excluding power lumbar setting
Power tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel with power automatic tilt-away
Power windows with auto-up/down feature
Power door locks and anti-lockout feature with driver door two-turn unlock
Two-level center console with lockable lower box
Push open ashtray and cigarette lighter
Automatic climate control system with lap vents for optimum cabin temperature during top down driving
Navigation System with three position tilt screen and electrically powered wood-trim cover panel
Steering-wheel­mounted cruise control
Auto-dimming, electrochromic inside rearview mirror
Dual illuminated covered vanity mirrors
Front individual map lights
Illuminated glove box, trunk and ashtray
Remote electric trunk lid release with valet lockout and fuel filler door release
Covered coin case
First aid kit located in the trunk
Tool kit
Lexus Personalized Settings (LPS)


Mark Levinson Premium Audio System
AM/FM ETR with auto-reverse cassette and six-disc in-dash CD changer
Dolby B and C noise reduction for cassette
Seven-channel DSP high power amplifier with power output of 240 watts (continuous average power at .01percent THD; 20-20,000 Hz)
Digital Sound Processor (DSP) for high resolution
Separate EQ settings used for top up/down driving conditions
Automatic Sound Levelizer (ASL)
Nine speakers including subwoofer
Ultra-low crossover distortion
AM/FM Automatic 3-position power mast antenna and FM diversity antenna with Radio Data System (RDS) retrieving capability
FM sub-antenna imprinted in windshield glass


Driver and front passenger airbag Supplemental Restraint System (SRS)
Seat-mounted side airbag Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) for front seats
Driver and front passenger knee airbags
Front passenger seat occupant detection sensor
Seat belt pretensioners and force limiters for both the driver and front passenger
Three-point belts for all seating positions: Automatic Locking Retraction/Emergency Locking Retraction (ALR/ELR) function for front passenger and rear positions, driver's equipped with ELR only
Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), TRAC, VSC
Four-sensor Direct Tire Pressure Monitor System
Front and rear energy-managing crumple zones
Highly rigid cabin
Center high-mounted stop lamp
Top tether anchors and ISO-FIX lower anchorage brackets in the rear seats for child seat installation
Daytime Running Lights (DRL)
Adaptive Front lighting System (AFS) that improves road visibility in turns
Dual side door impact beams

Key-integrated multifunction remote entry system with audible lock/2-stage unlock confirmation, trunk release and panic function
Illuminated entry/exit system (dome lamp, door courtesy lamps, driver's footlamp and ignition keyhole light)
Theft deterrent system with engine immobilizer
Valet lock-out function for trunk, glove box, lower center console box and convertible roof operation
No key cylinder for the passenger side door or trunk

6-speed sequential shift automatic electronically controlled transmission (ECT-i)
Torque Activated Powertrain Control
Acoustic Control Induction System (ACIS)
Electronic Throttle Control System (ETCS) with "Snow and Power" Mode
Evaporative Emission Control (EVAP) controlled by the engine ECU
Centrally located platinum tipped spark plugs
Computer-controlled ignition system with two knock sensors
Double-piston master cylinder piston with hydraulic brake booster
Liquid-cooled transmission oil cooler
Serpentine accessory drive belt with automatic tensioner
Hood and trunk lid struts
Low restriction dual exhaust system tuned to provide a low, sporty sound
On-board Refueling Vapor Recovery System (ORVR)

- Run-Flat All-Season or Run-Flat Summer Tires
- Rear Spoiler (coefficient of drag is reduced from .31 to .30 with the rear spoiler)
- 18-inch Wheel with Liquid Graphite Finish

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