Blue skies and sunshine are the ideal backdrop for a great drive in the Lexus LC Convertible, but this is a car that’s just as capable of dealing with much harsher weather conditions, as an icy endurance test has proved in a new Lexus short film, available to view here: https://vimeo.com/555871407
To demonstrate the LC Convertible’s depth of quality, Lexus subjected it to 12 hours inside an industrial-scale refrigeration unit at -18°C. More than that, the four-layer roof was stowed for the sub-zero marathon, exposing the interior, and the test was followed by an immediate high-power drive around a demanding test track.
How it was done
The trial was conducted at the Large 468m3 Climatic Chamber at the Millbrook Proving Ground which is regularly used to test the endurance of defence equipment as well as road vehicles, at temperatures between +85 and -60°C, with up to 98 per cent relative humidity.
For the LC Convertible’s visit, the mercury was set at -18°C – cold enough to freeze rubber and the industry standard for assessing defrosting performance. Taking the test a step further, the Lexus was given a preliminary water spray so that a sheet of ice would form over the vehicle body.
Greg Fleming, the senior engineer overseeing the trial, said: “With the roof down, the interior components would be in an extremely stressed condition and it would not be a nice place for anyone to be – the hope was that the air conditioning system, the heated seats and steering wheel would all still operate as they should.”
Once the Lexus was parked inside the chamber, it took about an hour for the powerful gas conditioning system to bring the temperature down to the required level. Then the car was left untouched overnight.
Professional stunt driver Paul Swift put the Lexus to its post-freeze test. On the call of “action” for the film crew, the 457bhp V8 engine fired up first time and the car’s displays and gauges sprung instantly to life, showing no adverse impact from the extreme cold.
As Swift discovered straight away, the Climate Concierge responded immediately to heat the cabin and the car returned to the ambient temperature of 12°C in just 20 minutes. “I could feel the steering wheel and the base of my back warming up and the vents in the head rest behind my neck. It was actually quite pleasant, considering it was minus 18, I felt quite comfortable in the car right away,” he said.
Swift piloted the Lexus out of the ice chamber to take on Milbrook’s hill course, an alpine-style test route of challenging curves, climbs and descents where the LC Convertible demonstrated exhilarating performance to match its styling and comfort, shedding dramatic shards of ice from its bodywork as it gathered speed.
“I didn’t really know what to expect but pressing the start button she started right away,” said Swift. “The route is testing, so you are asking a lot of the car and you can feel the chassis,” Swift explained. “There was no problem with understeer, the gear change was effortless and there is an appealing blip of the revs as you change down. This is a lovely car and does exactly what you need it to do.”