2008 Lexus SC 430 Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
June 27, 2008

The 2008 Lexus SC 430 offers a unique shape, a folding hardtop, and the Lexus experience, but the "bathtub" look is a major drawback in a class of beautiful convertibles.

TheCarConnection.com's convertible fans searched the Web for road tests on the 2008 Lexus SC 430 and have condensed those opinions in this conclusive review. TheCarConnection.com's car experts have also driven the Lexus SC 430, and they've added more details and driving impressions where it helps you decide which reviews to trust and whether the Lexus SC 430 is the right car for you.

The 2008 Lexus SC 430 retractable hardtop roadster sports a bulbous body with a power folding hardtop, a big V-8, and a six-speed automatic transmission, and returns for the model year with essentially no changes.

From most angles, the Lexus SC 430 is a chunky-looking roadster. It's tall on the sides, and its sloping front and rear ends give it a stance that reminds many professional road testers--including those at TheCarConnection.com--of a bathtub. The shape is good for aerodynamics and helps contribute to a strong body shell and a quiet cabin, but it's far from being held up as a sex object like, say, the Jaguar XK.

A 4.3-liter, 288-horsepower V-8 powers the 2008 Lexus SC 430. It's mated to a six-speed sequential shift automatic transmission with Shift Logic Control. The SC is impressively fast, and the transmission delivers crisp, instinctive shifts. Fuel economy is a decent 16/23 mpg.

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The SC 430 is decently responsive but not a class leader. Steering is precise, though there is a bit more understeer than we'd like. When pushed to the limits, it transitions to oversteer rather quickly. The big 18-inch wheels contribute to a rougher ride than might be expected.

With the top down, there's virtually no trunk space, especially if you have the mini-spare, which is deleted with the run-flats. Space is an issue in the interior as well; the backseat is only a substitute for the lack of trunk space, not a place to seat humans. It is a quiet cabin, though, and a lush place to sit. When not in use, electronically operated wooden doors hide away the navigation screen and radio, probably for good reason. The Mark Levinson sound system is arguably the best audio package on the road. The seven-channel, 240-watt system for the SC 430 provides uncanny resolution, enhanced by an eight-inch, trunk-mounted subwoofer, and an intelligent control system that adjusts the sound depending on whether the top is up or down.

Last year, the Lexus SC gained a knee airbag for both driver and front seat passenger, as well as new exterior color and wheel options. Bluetooth and a navigation system are standard, but the fabulous sound system does not incorporate satellite radio or an iPod jack.

Four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes, along with traction and stability control are standard. There are no crash-test ratings for the Lexus SC 430.

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