Future Models - Lexus 2013 LF-LC
Lexus coupe edges closer
Show stopper: Cars like the Lexus LF-LC hybrid concept are helping change the perception of the Japanese brand.
Detroit show star now on the cards for production as Lexus laps up praise
16 May 2012
LEXUS’ jaw-dropping LF-LC hybrid concept is a step closer to showroom reality, with the Australian arm of Toyota’s luxury brand echoing overseas statements by Lexus executives that the 2+2 sports coupe is a 50/50 prospect for production.
And the coupe – potentially a competitor for the Porsche 911 – might yet be joined in the showroom by a red-hot ‘F’ variant of the newly launched Lexus GS luxury large car, with Lexus Australia chief executive Tony Cramb telling GoAuto he has seen an image of such a vehicle under consideration in Japan.
The two sports machines are expected to become major planks in the company’s image overhaul – from conservative prestige brand to excitement leader – that started with the launch of the Lexus LFA V10 supercar in late 2010.
Speaking at the Australian launch of the GS 450h hybrid luxury sedan in Melbourne this week, Mr Cramb said the word from within Lexus was that the LF-LC was a 50/50 chance to get the green light for production, although it might be years away.
“I think that gives you a real good sign of things to come from Lexus, both from a styling point of view but also excitement and engagement with the customers,” he said.
“It was only a design concept at Detroit, so it will definitely be years, not months, away.”
Overseas reports suggest the Californian-designed sports coupe has firmed as a production model after a chorus of positive reviews in the wake of its Detroit debut as “a pure design concept”.
Among the admirers were the judges of the annual EyesOn Design Award, who named the LF-LC the best concept car at the 2012 Detroit show.
Left: Lexus LF-LC and LFA.
The LF-LC, which builds on the “spindle grille” design of the latest GS, is a front-engined, rear-wheel-drive hybrid coupe with four seats.
Although no other driveline details or firm performance figures were given, the coupe was said to be powered by a next-generation hybrid powertrain, with Lexus promising “a rewarding driving experience that is also kinder to the environment”.
As Lexus global product planning general manager Karl Schlicht told GoAuto at the Detroit show, Lexus would target a combined petrol-electric drivetrain power of 368kW and CO2 emissions of 150 grams per kilometre.
The show car allegedly was designed for a V8 hybrid powertrain, but Mr Schlicht said a V6 might be substituted in a production car.
Lexus Australia is sure to put up its hand for such a vehicle – along with a GS F sports sedan, should the latter get the green light to become Lexus’ third F-enhanced model after the BMW M3-taunting IS F and LFA supercar.
“We would definitely have our hand up if such a car (GS F) was built,” Mr Cramb said.
“I am sure this car can handle it. There is no doubt the engine can fit, and that the body is rigid enough to be able to cope with it.
“I don’t know if it is going to proceed, but what I can tell you is that I saw 12 months ago an image of what a GS F could look like, and it was stunning.
“So I just hope that we get enough enthusiasm from around the world – and I know there is a lot of enthusiasm already – to convince the people who are making the decisions with the dollars that it is a good thing to do.”
Mr Cramb said it was unlikely that a GS F would be a hybrid, like a production LF-LC.
“I think it (hybrid GS F) is possible, but I am not 100 per cent sure where it will end up,” he said.
“I think it is probably unlikely, in truth. I think it might be just a higher displacement engine.”
The biggest engine in the latest GS range is the 3.5-litre V6, the previous V8 variant having been dropped from the range.
The easiest option for a GS F would be to drop in the 311kW 5.0-litre V8 from the IS F, although Lexus might be tempted to ramp up the performance for the larger GS.
Lexus would have BMW’s M5 in its sights for a GS F, which is powered by a twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 producing 412kW of power and 680Nm of torque.