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Press Pass 2004

SC430 Offers a Combination of Power, Style, Comfort That's Hard to Match
By Lexus Media
Aug 19, 2003, 14:20 PST
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Lexus SC 430 Redefines Convertibles And Coupes 

 Introduced as a 2002 model, the Lexus SC 430 was the first retractable hardtop convertible in the premium luxury segment and quickly became one of the best-selling models in its class. The retractable hardtop transforms the SC 430 from a coupe into a convertible in less than 25 seconds with the push of a button. For 2003, the newly optional Lexus Link communication system can add an additional measure of safety and security.



“Competitors let customers choose between premium luxury coupes or convertibles.  The Lexus SC 430 lets customers make that choice every time they drive the car,” said Lexus Group Vice President and General Manager Denny Clements.

The SC 430’s design approach ends the compromise between the pleasure of top-down driving and the security and comfort that a closed coupe provides. The optional Lexus Link system can provide even more peace of mind.   At the press of a button, or automatically in certain emergency situations, the Lexus Link system combines GPS satellite and cellular phone technology to connect the customer with experienced and trained Lexus Link advisors at anytime, day or night, 365 days a year (when cellular and GPS service are available). 

Lexus Link services include automatic notification of air bag deployment, dispatch of emergency services, accident assistance, roadside assistance with location, theft notification and stolen vehicle tracking, plus remote door lock and unlock.  An available Premium Services Plan includes many other services to enhance customer productivity and convenience.


The exterior design of the Lexus SC 430 was created by the company’s European design center and was inspired by the sights and styles of the French Riviera.  The interior is a plush combination of natural materials including leather and wood. Aside from Lexus Link, the SC 430 offers only two factory options: run-flat tires (designed for limited emergency use only) and a rear spoiler.




300 Horsepower V8

The rear-wheel drive SC 430 convertible is engineered to deliver exciting performance even when driven leisurely.  The all-aluminum, double overhead-cam, 4.3-liter V8 engine produces 300 horsepower and 325 lb.-ft. of peak torque, and, coupled with a five-speed automatic transmission, can propel the car from 0-60 mph in only 5.9 seconds.

            The SC 430’s engine, which also powers the LS 430 flagship sedan and the GS 430 luxury performance sedan, achieves Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV) certification.

 Two technologies help define performance beyond the acceleration numbers.  Continuously Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) helps eliminate the traditional compromise between low-end torque and high-rpm horsepower by optimizing valve overlap throughout the engine’s speed range, not just at one or two set speeds. The Torque Activated Powertrain Control works with the Electronic Throttle Control System (drive-by-wire) to help smooth out acceleration from a standing start by very slightly delaying throttle opening when the driver steps on the accelerator pedal.



The five-speed automatic transmission uses Shift Logic Control to respond to road grade and acceleration/deceleration activity, holding gears or downshifting on inclines and downshifting on descents to provide increased engine braking.



Thoroughbred Chassis

Lexus created a purpose-built high-performance platform for the SC 430.  By designing the car as a convertible from the start, engineers optimized its structure to provide excellent strength whether the retractable hardtop is up or down.  The stiff structure allowed Lexus to tune the suspension to deliver responsive handling without foregoing the brand’s renowned smooth ride.  The 53/47 weight distribution helps deliver optimal balance for confident steering response.

Front and rear double wishbone independent suspension gives the SC 430 sportscar-level handling and contributes to a smooth ride.  The SC 430 comes equipped with 18-inch wheels.




Safety and Security

            The Lexus SC 430 provides owners with cutting-edge safety and security measures.  The braking system featuring four-sensor, four-channel anti-lock brakes (ABS), Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD), Traction Control, Vehicle Skid Control (VSC) and Brake Assist.  EBD monitors all four wheels during braking and varies brake pressure according to load on each wheel.  Brake Assist is designed to determine if the driver is attempting emergency braking and, if the driver has not stepped hard enough on the brake pedal to engage ABS, it applies maximum braking power until pedal pressure is released.

            VSC helps control lateral traction while cornering on slippery or dry road surfaces by using throttle intervention and/or applying individual wheel braking to help control any discrepancy between where the driver is steering and where the vehicle is heading. The VSC system integrates traction control (TRAC) to help limit rear wheel spin on slippery road surfaces.

Numerous structural components, such as the rocker panel, have been reinforced, which can help protect occupants in case of collision.  Other safety features include standard dual front airbags and front-seat mounted side impact airbags, daytime running lights, fog lamps and projector High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights with auto levelers.

A tire pressure warning system uses coded sensors to monitor the tire air pressure directly and transmit this information to a receiver via radio frequency communication.  The receiver calculates the information and, if a drop in pressure has occurred, an indicator light illuminates to warn the driver of the condition. The SC 430 also has an immobilizer and alarm system.



Additional safety and convenience is provided by the SC 430’s standard DVD-based Lexus Navigation System, which provides high-speed route calculation (average time: five seconds), digital contiguous U.S. map coverage, high-quality design and guidance screen enhancement.  The system includes expanded coverage for major cities in Canada and multi-language selection, as well. The visual guidance screen features an easy-to-see 256-color wide-format display with a split screen design.  It also adjusts seven degrees up or down to help minimize sun glare.  Both the audio system head unit and the navigation system are concealed by electrically powered, wood-trimmed access doors.




Audio And Climate Control That Rival Luxury Homes

Lexus worked with home audio experts Mark Levinson to develop a new type of sound system for the SC 430.  Nine strategically located speakers turn the interior into a personal listening room.  The equalization of the system automatically adjusts when the roof is lowered and returns to its original levels when the top is raised. The driver can control essential functions of the system easily by using controls on the steering wheel.  



            An advanced climate control system makes top-down driving more comfortable than in conventional convertibles.  The system adjusts airflow and temperature automatically, differentiating between top-up and top-down driving needs, automatically taking into account the exterior temperature to help ensure occupant comfort. 

For example, when driving in cooler weather with the top down, the system will direct warm air to the foot and lap areas.  On warm days, the system will circulate cool air to the same target locations.



Standard Equipment Highlights

·         10-way power-adjustable driver and front passenger seats

·         18-inch five-spoke aluminum alloy wheels

·         245/40ZR18 tires

·         Auto-dimming heated, power-adjustable exterior mirrors with reverse-gear tilt-down

·         Automatic climate control with lap vents

·         Bader leather-trimmed interior

·         Bird’s Eye Maple or Burled Walnut wood interior trim

·         DVD Lexus Navigation system

·         Electronically powered aluminum retractable hardtop roof

·         Integrated foglamps

·         Headlight washers

·         Heat and UV-reducing glass

·         Mark Levinson high-end audio system with cassette player and six-disc in-dash CD changer

·         Power tilt and telescope steering wheel

·         Projector-type High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights

·         Three-spoke leather/wood-wrapped steering wheel

·         Two-position memory system for outside mirrors, steering wheel and front seats

·         Trip computer

·         Variable intermittent windshield wipers with mist cycle

·         Water-repellent side door glass



Every new Lexus vehicle comes with a 48-month/50,000-mile basic limited warranty.  Powertrain and restraint system coverage is provided for 72 month/70,000 miles.  Corrosion perforation protection is covered for 72 months, regardless of mileage.





SC Chronology





¨         May 1991 – Lexus expands its product line to three models with the addition of the SC 400 sport coupe.  Designed at Calty Design in Newport Beach, Calif., the stunning coupe shares the tradition of Lexus luxury and adds a healthy dose of sport.


¨         June 1991 – The SC 400 goes on sale.


¨         Aug. 1991 – The SC 300 sport coupe, which features a 3.0-liter inline-six engine, joins the Lexus family.


¨         Sept. 1997 – The classic SC 400/300 sport coupes receive improved performance for the 1998 model year with the addition of Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) in both six and eight-cylinder engines and a five-speed automatic transmission in the SC 400.


¨         Oct. 1999 – Lexus unveils the Lexus Sport Coupe concept vehicle at the Tokyo International Motor Show.


¨         April 2000 – Lexus announces plans for the SC 430 convertible at the New York Auto Show.


¨         Jan. 2001 – Lexus unveils the second-generation SC, the SC 430, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. 


¨         March 2001 – The all-new SC 430 hardtop convertible goes on sale with a bank of sold orders through the end of the year.


¨         Oct. 2001– A special edition SC 430 “Silver Belle” is offered through the 2001 Neiman Marcus Christmas Book. All 99 vehicles are sold within 14 hours. One vehicle is auctioned via the Internet with the proceeds going to the American Red Cross in honor of the September 11 terrorist attack victims.


¨         October 2001 – The SC 430 CART/Fed Ex Championship Series Pace Car debuts at the Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix in Houston.





¨         Nov. 1991 – The SC 400 makes the honor rolls of Car and Driver, Automobile, Popular Science and Playboy magazines.


¨         Feb. 1992 – The SC 400 is named "Import Car of the Year" by Motor Trend and by the Motoring Press Association.


¨         Dec. 1992 – SC 300 is named to the Car and Driver “10 Best” list and Automobile's “All-Star” list.


¨         Dec. 1992 – SC 400 named one of Motor Trend's “Best Buys.”


¨         March 1993 – American Automobile Association (AAA) names the SC 300 as the best 1993 model in its price range.


¨         Dec. 1993 – SC 300 is named to the Car and Driver ”10 Best” list and Automobile's “All-Star” list for the second year in a row.


¨         May 1994 – The SC coupes finish third (behind the LS and GS) in J.D. Power and Associates’ Initial Quality Study (IQS).


¨         Jan. 1995 – Car and Driver names SC 300 one of 1995's “10 Best” cars.


¨         Feb. 1995 – SC 300 is designated one of Automobile magazine's “All-Stars.”


¨         June 1996 – Lexus again tops the J.D. Power and Associates IQS. The SC 400/300 Coupes scored a noteworthy 45 problems per 100 cars, the best single vehicle model in the study.





Look for more of Lexus' 2003 lineup here in Press Pass at 



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