Used Lexus SC430 review: 2005-2010
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Lexus arrived on the scene in 1990 with the promise of Mercedes-Benz luxury and refinement, but with better quality and a lower price. It scared the pants off the Germans and forced them to lift their game, which had been getting a little sloppy.
The problem in those early days for Lexus was that it was a one-model wonder, and only the well-heeled could enjoy what the brand offered. But more models came and the range expanded, and by 2001 it even included a high performance sports roadster, the SC430.
The SC430 wasn't pretty; most would agree that it looked ungainly. It wasn't a car you instantly fell in love with. You really had to look beyond the SC430's styling to fully appreciate it. The SC430 was a car for all seasons, a coupe that could be turned into an open roadster at the flick of a switch. It took fully 25 seconds for the metal roof to be lowered and stowed out of sight.
With the roof up you had the security and comfort of a closed car with the option of wind-in-the-hair motoring at the flick of a switch. The two-door coupe/convertible was said to be a four-seater, but while it did have rear seats they weren't in any way practical. But the SC430 was never about family-style practicality, it was a cruiser for the selfish. Under the bonnet lurked a silky smooth 4.3-litre quad-cam V8 that put out 210 kW and 419 Nm quietly and purposefully.
The update that hit the showrooms in 2005 brought a standard six-speed sports shift automatic transmission that boosted the cars on-road performance.
While the engine was a treat on the open road, the ride and handling of the SC430 let it down. The ride was hard on anything but a boulevard smooth road, and the handling was rather ponderous. There was no shortage of features in the SC430, it came with pretty much everything you could wish for, including leather, sat-nav, nine-speaker sound, and power seats.
Lexus build quality was superb; it really shook up those carmakers that reckoned they were on top of the game. It also means that Lexus cars stand up in the long term, and even older cars can be bought with good confidence they won't fall apart overnight.
That doesn't mean they are totally free of trouble, like any car problems can strike. A thorough road test is recommended before purchase, and it's certainly worth seeking the advice of an expert as well.
When test-driving a car prior to purchase it's important to check the operation of the roof. There have been stories of roofs not operating as they should, and a faulty roof can be expensive to repair. Also check for a service record. Regular oil changes are essentially to keep the SC430's V8 ticking over smoothly. There have been no recalls affecting the post-2005 update SC430, and owners are generally happy withy their cars.
CarsGuide reader, Tony O'Brien, has owned a 2006 model since 2008, and he told us he is extremely happy with it, while at the same time he accepts that the ride is not the best on anything but smooth roads and the handling does not inspire confidence.
The only fault in six years of ownership has been a faint squeak in the roof, which was fixed under warranty. Apart from that he says his car has been totally reliable, is easy to drive, has plenty of luggage space with the roof up, less so when the roof is lowered.
|Year||Price From||Price To|
Range and Specs
|SC430||4.3L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$21,500 – 29,150||2005 Lexus SC 2005 SC430 Pricing and Specs|
Lowest price, based on third party pricing data