2002 Lexus SC 430 Sport (Coupe?) (364)

This week we’re looking at the 2002 Lexus SC 430 luxury coupe. Brother in law Steve drives a prior year model and I prefer that body style.

However, I didn’t like the Porsche Boxster when I first drove it and now it stands out in my memory – I think that will be the case with this Lexus. It’s a brave styling change for this model and it will be interesting to see if the 12,000 intended for production will all find a home.

Other cars that rubbed me the wrong way initially include the Audi TT, VW Beetle and the Pontiac Aztek, to name a few. But all have remained in my mind as thoughtfully different in an otherwise bland cookie cutter auto world. This SC 430 is much like the Mercedes SLK in the operation of the hard top convertible. They are unbelievably slick, but you give up trunk space and that can be a real drawback when traveling. I guess that’s why they designed in a useless back seat that seems more intended for luggage, golf clubs or tennis rackets.

Handling & Performance:

I don’t think it handles as well as its older siblings. I felt uneasy when driving a little aggressively which I tend to do most of the time. The big V8 is awesome and in keeping with past performers of this model with 0-60 at a scant 6.1 sec.


I was rather disappointed with the look, especially after I had come to love the design of prior year models. I don’t think it will appeal to macho men, but I expect it will appeal to women drivers much like the Jag XK8.

Fit and Finish:

Outstanding like its predecessor and the burl wood is still REAL, even though you can\’t tell it from the better imitation. But it is still nice to know it’s real.


Convertibles are back, big time. And if you want a convertible this one is almost embarrassingly easy to use. One button operation that is so simple even your husband can do it, assuming you let him drive it.


Both this and the Jag are expensive but for a car this well made and the long list of quality features it is properly priced. All the high tech mechanical gear is impressive but an over kill for the use it will get in the Hills of Beverly or the French Riviera, where buyers must come from to afford such driving expense.


Look ahead to determine if the rear seat will pose a problem or the lack of trunk space with the top down will be inconvenient for your needs.

The Competition:

Jaguar XK Series $69-97,000, Mercedes CLK $42-79,000, Mercedes SL Class $83-128,000.

Good News:

Well made luxury, super easy hard top/convertible, fast V8, comfortable seats.

Bad News:

Loosey goosey handling that requires effort to drive long distances, debatable styling (for some it’s ugly), and useless back seat for passengers with legs – I can\’t believe they did that.

Standard Equipment:

4.3 liter 300 horsepower V8 engine with continuous variable valve timing, 5-speed auto trans, torque activated power train, electronic throttle system, 4-wheel independent suspension, speed sensing power steering, 4-wheel power disc brakes, dual front and side air bags, skid system with ABS brake assist, traction control with electronic brake distribution, tire pressure warning system, theft deterrent system with engine immobilizer, headlamp washers, power retractable hard top, leather trimmed interior with memory driver seat, wood and leather steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, Mark Levinson 9 speaker 240 watt sound system with automatic sound levelizer, single feed 6-disc CD auto changer, dual zone climate control with smog sensor and air filter, rear wind deflector.

Gas Stats:

18 City and 23 Highway MPG.


MSRP $58,455.

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