Driving Impressions

By November 10, 1999

When you’re breathing the rarefied air of a $50,000-plus sticker price, you expect the ride, handling and acceleration to be phenomenal – and the Lexus does not disappoint. At speeds of 80 mph and up, the SC 400’s ride is silky smooth – thanks to the 4-wheel, double-wishbone, coil-spring suspension and gas-filled shocks. The steering is as responsive as any vehicle we’ve tested to date. With the aid of the variable-assist, speed-sensitive power steering, high-speed freeway maneuvers can be executed with a single digit. And in a genuine emergency situation – the car ahead of us stopped abruptly – a quick spin of the wheel swept us to the safety of the slow lane.

The Lexus SC 400’s 4.0-liter DOHC V8 engine delivers its 250 hp at 5600 rpm and 260 lb.-ft. of torque at 4400 rpm. It also blasts off from dead dig to 60 mph in an impressive 6.9 seconds.

To soften this Apollo-like acceleration, Lexus engineers have equipped the SC 400 with a 4-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with ECT-i intelligence – which interacts with the engine’s on-board computer to regulate line pressure, in turn providing smoother shifting.

When coasting along at 65 mph with the cruise control engaged, the tach read a very contented 2400 rpm. Moments later, in a 70-mph passing situation, we floored it and the tach needle jerked up to 6000 rpm as the passing gear engaged.

The SC 400 stops with similar urgency thanks to standard anti-lock brakes: At 30 mph, we came to an assured, controlled halt in under 4 seconds.