Lexus SC: 1st Generation: Best or worst Lexus Ever?

Lexus SC: 1st Generation: Best or worst Lexus Ever?

1998-2001 LEXUS SC 400 005

1998-2001 Lexus Soarer SC400-005

The Soarer made its first appearance at the 1980 Osaka International Motor Show with the name “EX-8”. The Z10 series Toyota Soarer was produced from February 1981 to December 1985, with 2.0L, 2.8L or 3.0L DOHC I-6 variants.

At its introduction in 1981, it won the Car of the Year Japan Award.

The first-generation Soarer debuted with a rear-wheel-drive configuration based on the A60 Supra shown below It boasted numerous technological items, such as a touchscreen computer-controlled air conditioning climate control (Electro Multi Vision Display, on all models except the base models which featured standard fan/heater controls), digital speed, and tachometer using LEDs (that were differentiated between models), among other electronic features. Due to the compliance of Japanese external dimension and engine displacement regulations, the first-generation models were classified as “compacts”, which gave Japanese buyers tax saving advantages.

1997 Lexus SC400 Digital Interior

This is Lexus’s first sports car, created in two generations. It is actually described as a grand tourer and features a classic front engine, rear-wheel drive layout with seating for up to four passengers.

The first generation (which we will focus on) debuted in 1991 and was sold until July 2000. The SC was produced alongside the Toyota Soarer at the company’s Higashi Fuji plant at Susono, Shizuoka. The first generation of the model was offered with an inline-six and a V8 gasoline unit, sending power to the rear wheels through a five-speed manual, or four- and five-speed automatic transmissions. Initially, only the more powerful motor was available, delivering 250 horsepower (186 kilowatts), shortly after upgraded to 260 (194 kW). The addition of an upgraded VVT-i system in 1997 boosted the power to 290 hp (216 kW).

Was it bad, great or awesome?

Well – no! Not at all bad, It had enough power, drove well on highways, and looked amazing. In fact, when it debuted with a drag coefficient of 0.31, its design was considered influential for the whole segment. It was well built, had a comfortable interior, and sold well.

So what’s the problem you might be wondering? Well, it was positioned somewhere between the traditional grand tourers and the classic sports car. To put that into context, there were better GTs on the market at that time and far better sports cars. But probably the biggest issue was… the Toyota Supra.

Toyota Supra
1984 Toyota Soarer 2.0 GT (GZ10)

The two cars shared many components and even the engine was almost identical (in the SC 300). But while the Supra was tuned to deliver fun behind the wheel, the SC was only good at straights. Yes, most people buy grand tourers to drive them on the highway, but when the power is close to 300 hp (224 kW), good handling is a must.

And, yes – probably the SC should not be classified as a sports car, but when you have all the characteristics of such, you have to compete against the best. Some say the SC was a nicer, more luxurious Supra, we say it was more of a slower and heavier Supra- probably debatable.

However, explaining, why the Lexus SC was actually a great car, is not difficult at all. First, it looked great, even in the late 90s when it was already more than five-years-old. It had a distinctive exhaust note from the outside, but when you were inside the car it was comfortably quiet – just like a real grand tourer should be. Add a perfect ride quality, high build quality, and good materials. And, yes – it was not a great sports car, but a fantastic GT.

“In my opinion, it’s a fantastic ride!

The acceleration always made me feel like a plane about to take off. The sound of the engine was phenomenal”. But that’s just my opinion, let me know what you guys think and leave a comment in the comments section below.


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