When Lexus announced that it would build a new flagship luxury sports coupé and convertible based on the LF-LC concept, the news was generally welcomed with enthusiasm and anticipation. The Japanese brand has of late been bringing out cars that are significantly better, dynamically, than the uninspiring models it used to churn out. Moreover, the fact that this new flagship will be the first to be built on an updated platform, and will be powered by a 5.0-litre V8, all gives us hope of this being more than just a chic halo car. However, the choice of the SC moniker for the new car tends to induce an element of scepticism. That’s because the first SC was a car that raised huge expectations of being a true rival to German performance coupés and convertibles, only to disappoint.
The SC nameplate was introduced to capitalise on the huge success of the first-generation LS, the model that launched the Lexus brand. With the flagship saloon having set a high standard, everyone was expecting a coupé with real German-baiting credentials. While the first SC was decent, it was nothing special. So, when the second generation was announced, everyone thought Lexus would grab this opportunity to hone the model into a real world-beater. Also, there was a lot of hype around the car’s styling, with the design team travelling to the Côte d’Azur to get inspiration from the yachts and the architecture. Well, what came out in 2001 as the SC430 was a hideous blob of metal with a Lexus badge. Although it was powered by a 300 horsepower, 4.3-litre V8, the car’s nearly two-tonne heft negated any potential benefit from the powertrain, while driving dynamics were nowhere near as good as its rivals. And quite unlike something Lexus, the ride was also disappointing. Altogether, the SC430 turned out to be an ugly-looking, underpowered car with listless handling and a drab ride, and it was killed off in 2010 after nine years of painful existence.
While the name SC brings back unpleasant memories, here’s hoping Lexus gets it right the third time.