LA Auto Show 2019

2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible heading to dealerships in time for summer

Lexus is adding a convertible variant of its flagship sports coupe to its lineup for the 2021 model year.

Photo courtesy of Lexus

Summer is waiting. Lexus has debuted the 2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible in Los Angeles, signaling the realization of a model that first debuted as a concept nearly a year ago.

This isn't just a topless LC 500. With the LC 500 convertible, engineers wanted to improve the car's chassis rigidity while adding and relocating key structural braces that would allow for the top to be off. At the same time, the company wanted to ensure that the car didn't lose its superb handling or balance, which was a careful equation to get right as the car's weight changed.

2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible On the outside, the 2021 LC 500 Convertible looks nearly identical to the LC 500, except for its soft top.Photo courtesy of Lexus

The result is a car with a die-cast aluminum suspension brace, performance dampener, and an un-sprung weight reduction in the front. Lexus says that the changes give the rear-wheel drive car the desired effect.

Each LC 500 Convertible has a 5.0-liter V8 engine under the hood that is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission and achieves 471 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque.

The convertible features a four-layer soft top that includes a tonneau covering for when it is retracted, allowing the cabin to appear completely open front to rear. The roof can be opened or closed at speeds up to 31 mph. It takes just 15 seconds to open and 16 seconds to close. Lexus will sell the LC 500 Convertible with either a black or beige roof.

2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible Lexus will offer the LC 500 Convertible with a black or beige roof.Photo courtesy of Lexus

The car's spoiler has been broadened over the LC 500 hard top design and the car's center is integrated into the trunk lid. On the LC 500 the brake light is in the rear windshield. A wind screen is available. Active noise control is standard.

Lexus will sell the car in the buyer's choice of 10 paint jobs: Ultra White, Smoky Granite, Liquid Platinum, Atomic Silver, Obsidian, Caviar, Infrared, Cadmium Orange, Flare Yellow, and Nightfall Mica. A black, Circuit Red, or Toasted Caramel interior is available depending on paint choice.

Each LC 500 Convertible comes with automatic climate control that works to keep the cabin temperature stable whether the top is up or down. Lexus Climate Concierge and Upper Body Heating work in sync to manage the air conditioner, seat heaters, neck heaters and steering-wheel heater to ensure the cabin is at the ideal temperature. Lexus says that the HVAC system has been optimized to send warm or cold air to the back of the driver's hands when gripping the steering wheel.

2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible The car's interior contains the same modern design as the LC 500.Photo courtesy of Lexus

Lexus is equipping the model with the same 10.3-inch infotainment screen that's in the LC 500. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration is standard, as are Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant integration.

Each new Lexus LC 500 Convertible will come standard with Lexus Safety System+ (LSS+). This suite of safety and driver assistance technology includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with active lane keeping, adaptive cruise control, and high beam assist. Blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert are also standard. Lexus Enform Safety Connect is complementary for the first 10 years of ownership.

2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible Lexus has made the car more rigid, allowing for the cabin's sight lines to be uninterrupted front to rear.Photo courtesy of Lexus

The 2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible Inspiration Series show at the Los Angeles Auto Show is a limited edition offering. Just 100 will be made of the unique model with a Structural Blue paint job, white semi-aniline leather interior trim, unique blue top, gray headlamp garnishes, side intake garnishes, and taillamp garnishes. It comes standard with 21-inch wheels. Pricing is not yet available.

Pricing for the special edition and more traditional variants has yet to be released. The 2020 Lexus LC 500 starts at $92,950 and it's likely that the convertible variant will be priced higher to start.

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Maserati is promising an electrified future for its brand.

Photo courtesy of Maserati

In his prom "Divine Comedy," Italian author Dante Alighieri wrote, "From a little spark may burst a flame." It is fitting that Italian automaker Maserati is using a spark to tease its future.

That future includes a completely redesigned Maserati Ghibli Hybrid. Maserati has also been showing a pre-production version of the car under wraps on a tour though Italy calling it the MC20. It was designed and engineered at the Maserati Innovation Lab in Modena, Italy.

Maserati electrification 2020 As part of its announcement, Maserati shared images of its headquarters being hit by simulated lightning.Photo courtesy of Maserati

That bit about being straight from Italy is important to the brand. Despite being owned by a company headquartered in the Netherlands (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) that is about to merge with a company headquartered in France (PSA Group), the Maserati team has been given the freedom to design using Italian sports car DNA.

That Italian sports car DNA will be merging with a hybrid powertrain in a move all about sparking Maserati sales. For its part, the company is calling it, "the first in a line of new vehicles at the vanguard of a new era for Maserati." The's a next chapter, if you will.

Throughout 2020, Maserati is expected to strengthen its position in the luxury electric vehicles market as it works to allocate more of its production space to electrified cars.

The Ghibli Hybrid goes first, later this year. The Maserati GranTurismo and GranCabriolet will begin production in 2021 as the automaker's first all-electric cars. The next-gen GranTurismo and GranCabrio will be built at the Mirafiori production hub.

Maserati's Modena facility is in the process of a remodel, which will allow it to be modified enough to begin producing what the company is calling a "super sports car" in 2020.The Ghibli Hybrid will have the first hybrid engine in the history of the marque.

A forthcoming Maserati utility vehicle is set to be built at Cassino in 2021. The automaker is already teasing the model saying that it is, "intended to play a leading role for the brand, thanks to its innovative technologies." Technological innovation is not something Maserati has been known for lately so this could be a welcome change.

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BMW has debuted the first vehicle in the next-generation 4 Series lineup.

Photo by Fabian Kirchbauer Photography

BMW has unveiled the second-generation 4 Series Coupe six years after the last generation launched. The model puts forward a strong face, but has a long hood, sleek roof, and inoffensive back end while being powered by a fresh lineup of BMW engines.

The car will come in three trim levels: 430i, 430i xDrive, and M440i xDrive. BMW xDrive models come standard with all-wheel drive.

Exterior

Compared to the previous generation's 33i and 430i Coupe models, the 2021 BMW 4 Series Coupe is 2.2 inches longer, 1.0 inch wider, 2.2 inches lower and with a 1.0 inch wider rear track while sharing the same wheelbase. The car is more aerodynamic compared to the 430i Coupe as well.

2021 BMW 4 Series Coupe The looks of the car are sleeker with less folds and creases in this generation. Photo by Fabian Kirchbauer Photography

The face of the 4 Series Coupe is the most controversial. It features a new type of kidney grille that has been compared to the teeth of a beaver. BMW says that the new design, " provides adequate cooling for the [cars'] more powerful engines." The grille is surrounded by a three-dimensional mesh structure.

The air intakes take their position on the edges of the front bumper while standard LED headlights illuminate the way ahead.Two U-shaped daytime running light elements in each headlight give the car its BMW headlight signature. The turn signals consist of three glass blade units in the corners of each front light assembly.

Overall, the design of the 4 Series Coupe is clean but muscular with its long hood giving off sports car vibes. It has frameless windows, which add to its sophistocation. Acoustic glass is now used in the car to keep the cabin quiet.

For as much of a talking point as the front of the car is, the back is rather dull. There are darkened L-shaped LED taillights and vertical apertures at the rear corners mimic the air vents up front. BMW's signature trapezoidal exhaust finishers are tucked into the lower rear bumper cover.

2021 BMW 4 Series Coupe The grille is a point of controversy amongst critics. Photo by Fabian Kirchbauer Photography

Buyers opting for the M Sport Package get a uniquely styled front bumper with larger air intake openings and a restyled rear bumper with Shadowline inlays. The rear diffuser panel, front air intake trim, side window moldings and lower exterior mirror housings are all finished in high-gloss black.

Opting for the Shadowline Package gets buyers a high-gloss black finish to the kidney grille, exhaust tip trim and a black finish to the mirror caps.

The M440i xDrive Coupe's exterior styling is set apart by a rear trunk spoiler and by a Cerium Grey finish to the kidney grille, front air intake trim, exterior mirror caps, and rear trapezoidal exhaust tip trim.

All 4 Series Coupes are equipped with standard 18 inch alloy wheels with all-season run-flat tires. Nineteen-inch alloy wheels with all-season run-flat tires ad 19-inch alloy wheels with performance run-flat tires are available. The M440i xDrive Coupe also offers the additional option of 19-inch alloy wheels with performance non-run-flat tires are an option.

2021 BMW 4 Series Coupe The rear of the car is rather mundane compared to the front. Photo by Fabian Kirchbauer Photography

Performance

Every variant of the 4 Series Coupe is more powerful than the last-generation. The base 430i and 430i xDrive Coupe get their power from a twin-turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 255 horsepower and 294 pound-feet of torque. The 430i Coupe is capable of getting from zero to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. The 430i xDrive Coupe is 0.2 seconds faster off the line. Both cars have an electronically limited top speed of 130 or 155 mph depending on the tires it wears.

The M440i xDrive Coupe is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that produces 382 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. The car is helped off the line by a 48-volt battery that is part of the car's mild-hybrid system. It can go from zero to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and has a an electronically limited top speed of 130 or 155 mph depending on its wheel and tire combination.

Both engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, which utilizes data from the adaptive cruise control system to downshift in order to scrub off speed, reducing wear and tear on the brakes.

2021 BMW 4 Series Coupe The profile of the coupe is sporty, with its long hood and swept back windscreen. Photo by Fabian Kirchbauer Photography

Performance of the M440i xDrive Coupe is enhanced by its standard rear M Sport differential, which works in conjunction with the stability control system to reduce understeer.

BMW says that the 4 Series Coupe is the more rigid than the last model. That, along with equipment upgrades, allow the model to have sharper steering and better handling than the outgoing model, as well as delivering a more comfortable drive.

The optional M Sport suspension (standard on the new BMW M440i xDrive Coupe) features firmer spring settings, stiffer bushings and mounts, firmer anti-roll bars, and a greater negative wheel camber.

Variable Sport steering, part of the optional M Sport Package and standard on the M440i xDrive, adjusts to changes in the steering angle to maximizing cornering agility and low speed comfort.

Sport brakes are also available.

2021 BMW 4 Series Coupe The car is set up to have a driver-centric cockpit. Photo by Fabian Kirchbauer Photography

Interior

The car features much fo the same from BMW. It has driver-centric cockpit with a start/stop button now located on the center console adjacent to the newly designed shifter.

Newly designed front power Sport seats and leather Sport steering wheel are standard. The four-seater 4 Series Coupe's rear seating with integral head restraints is designed for two passengers and features split-folding functionality.

Infotainment

BMW's Intelligent Personal Assistant responds to "Hey BMW" and can perform unique actions like automatically opening a window the the vehicle reaches a predetermined GPS point.

The car comes standard with an 8.8-inch infotainment touch screen and a 5.1-inch driver's information screen. Buyers can upgrade to a 10.25-inch center touch screen and a fully digital 12.3-inch instrument display.

2021 BMW 4 Series Coupe The interior of the car is very BMW with design that blends in with the rest of the automaker's lineup.Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW has also made navigation, which uses new cloud-based functionality, standard on the model. The system has been updated to allow for better user flexibility with inputs and route guidance. Buyers who opt for Live Cockpit Professional get a system with enhanced 3D graphics that highlights obstacles surrounding the car.

The new 2021 BMW 4 Series Coupe offers standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Compatibility. Additional apps available include Google Assistant, Google Maps, Spotify, Amazon Music, and WhatsApp.

Safety

The list of standard safety technology on the model includes lane departure warning with steering correction; frontal collision; pedestrian warning with braking function; blind spot detection; rear cross traffic alert; rear collision preparation, automatic high beams; and speed limit information.

The Driving Assistance Professional Package which adds adaptive cruise control with stop and go and traffic jam assist, which allows for extended hands free vehicle operation, lane keeping assistant with side collision avoidance, evasion aid, front cross traffic alert, and emergency stop assistant – which can help guide your BMW to the shoulder and bring it to a halt in a medical emergency situation.

2021 BMW 4 Series Coupe The car features a fresh light signature in the front and rear.Photo courtesy of BMW

Buyers can upgrade to the Parking Assistance Package, which delivers a panorama view and 3D surround camera views to assist with parking. It can steer the car in and out of a parking spot on command. The remote 3D view function gives drivers the ability to call up a three-dimensional live image of their parked vehicle and its immediate vicinity on their smartphone. Additionally, the package allows the driver to use the car's cameras to record video footage from the front and rear of the vehicle then display them later.

Pricing and on-sale

MSRP pricing is $45,600 for the 430i Coupe, $47,600 for the 430i xDrive Coupe and $58,500 for the M440i xDrive Coupe. Pricing does not include the $995 destination fee. The model goes on sale later this year.

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