The Lexus Soarer is a personal luxury grand tourer coupe sold by the luxury vehicle division of Toyota. It was first introduced as the Toyota Soarer in 1981. In Japan, this car was available from dealerships called Toyopet and Toyota Stores. Introduced as the Z10 series, the Toyota Soarer debuted at the Osaka International Motor Show in 1980 under the name EX-8. The car went into production in early 1981, and the Z10 series was produced until December 1985.
By early 1986, a new series of the Soarer, Z20, was launched with a brand new A70 Supra platform. This Z20 series was produced from January 1986 to April 1991, and it was sold in various models and trims. The styling of the Z10 and Z20 was very similar to that of the X80 series by Toyota, which included the Cresta, Chaser, Mark II, and Cressida. By the middle of 1991, the Z30 series would take over in Japan, and Lexus would introduce its version of the Soarer, the SC 300 and 400, for the United States. The Z30 and Lexus SC models were very similar, but the powertrain specifications were different.
Production continued until 2001, when Toyota introduced the Z40 series and Lexus introduced the SC 430 series. Both were available as convertible only and used the same platform and design principle. As a result, they were identical in most areas. In 2005, Lexus, which was largely restricted only to the US, was introduced in Japan, and the Toyota Soarer stopped production. The Lexus Soarer became more commonplace, and the unique Soarer emblem was discontinued.
Unfortunately, during the entire production era, neither the Toyota nor the Lexus Soarer was made available by Toyota Australia. The company did not bother to import the Z30 or SC 300/400 series here, and they were only available for purchase through specialist importers at the time. The reason for not making this car available may have been Toyota’s belief that there was not enough demand to justify importing them in. However, when the importers came in to fill the gap left by Toyota, everyone realised just how popular these GT coupes were. A large number of them were imported, and the demand for the car was rather high. In Japan, the Soarer competed with the likes of the Mazda Cosmo and Nissan Leopard. One of the most endearing elements of the Toyota models was the unique winged lion emblem used as its logo.
The Z10 models of the Soarer were available with 2.0L, 2.8L, and 3.0L 6-cylinder engines, delivering power through the rear wheels. In 1988, the Z20 models got new taillights and front grilles and improved engines. The 3.0L engine delivered 179kW of power while the 2.0L engines delivered 157kW of power. For the Lexus, however, there was a turbocharged 6-cylinder engine and a V8 engine. The SC 300 got a 3.0L 2JZ-GE 6-cylinder engine that delivered 168kW of power and 285Nm of torque. The SC 400 models got a 4.0L 1UZ-FE V8 engine that delivered 186kW of power and 353Nm of torque.
Both engines are very capable, taking the rear-wheel drive coupe from standstill to 100km/h in just over 6 seconds and reaching a top speed of more than 250km/h. The 3.0L engine, however, is a little more sedated in terms of performance, covering 400 metres in almost 17 seconds, which is around 4 seconds more time than what the 4.0L V8 requires. This engine is also used in other Lexus models and its refined, smooth performance allows the coupe to be driven easily around the city and on the open road.
Most models available in the country today have a 4-speed electronic automatic transmission, and a 5-speed manual gearbox is rarer. All models got independent suspension in the front and rear. Coil springs were present in early models and airbags were added later on. Handling was precise for the most part, thanks to the variable ratio rack. The twin-turbo models, however, were relatively more precise. The suspension was kept soft to keep the ride comfortable, and it was successful; however, this was done at the cost of stability. Nevertheless, the car handled quite well with enough assurance to the driver.
The Lexus Soarer was available with a number of standard features like anti-skid brakes, air-conditioning, power windows and mirrors, telescoping tilt steering wheel, rear window demister, and optional traction control. All later models got a driver’s airbag, while the passenger airbag was kept optional along with the traction control.
One of the main competitors of the Lexus Soarer was the Nissan 200SX coupe. One of the biggest disadvantages of the 200SX, however, was its lack of safety features. The car was not inherently unsafe, and its lack of traction and powerful engine combined to form an unpredictable ride. With a skilled driver behind the wheel, the 200SX was a lot of fun, but it could be disastrous for those lacking in experience. Standard safety features were also missing, and for this reason, the Lexus Soarer scored ahead of the 200SX.