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Tokyo show: Lexus reveals ‘future flagship’

This sucker’s nuclear: A fuel cell powers the rear end of the LF-FC, while in-wheel electric motors add drive up front.

Fuel-cell-powered all-wheel-drive LF-FC luxury sedan from Lexus stuns Tokyo show

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Lexus logo28 Oct 2015

By TIM ROBSON

LEXUS has made what looks to be its biggest statement in the Japanese luxury brand’s 26-year history, taking the covers off a fuel-cell-powered all-wheel-drive sports sedan concept at the Tokyo motor show today that is both longer and wider than a Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

The LF-FC, or Lexus Future Fuel Cell, is said to be a precursor to the company’s “future flagship sedan” – a title that currently belongs to the slow-selling LS.

The concept car uses a fuel-cell propulsion system to drive the rear wheels via an electric motor, and also employs a pair of hub-mounted electric motors in the front wheels to give the LF-FC all-wheel-drive capability.

“Lexus wants to surprise and evoke emotion with its distinctive design and forward-thinking technology,” said Lexus International president Tokuo Fukuichi.

“For us, it is more than just a car, and we should exceed conventional imagination. The LF-FC expresses our progressive luxury and hi-tech vision of a not-so-distant future.”

The fuel-cell stack is mounted in the rear end of the LF-FC, while the control module is positioned up front. The hydrogen tanks are, according to Lexus, arranged in a ‘T’ configuration to optimise weight distribution front to rear.

The well-resolved and executed exterior design of the LF-FC carries on Lexus’ latest ‘L-finesse’ styling language, with L-shaped DRLs around the headlights and an exaggerated version of the kidney grille up front.

The rear LED lights, meanwhile, are a wild interpretation of the L-finesse style, snaking across the bootlid line and down to the base of the bumper.

At 5300mm long, 2000mm wide and 1410mm tall, the LF-FC is 165mm longer than an Audi A8, and 74mm longer than even a Mercedes-Benz long-wheelbase limousine. It also sits 101mm wider than the largest S-Class.

By comparison, the current long-wheelbase LS (no longer available in Australia) is shorter at 5210mm, narrower at 1875mm and measures 1480mm in overall height.

A set of 21-inch rims feature carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) rims on alloy centres, while the LF-FC concept does without any exterior mirrors at all.

The interior is a curious blend of classic luxury and futuristic design, with aniline leather covering the upper dash and seats and what appears to be wood parquetry on the centre console and doors.

TFT screens run the full length of the dashboard, and the LF-FC is equipped with the must-have tech of this year’s show, hand gesture controls. A small hologram displays an image of where the gestures should be made.

The LF-FC, while being less overt about its autonomous driving abilities than other concepts at the show, is still equipped with a suite of technology that includes what Lexus calls “elevated traffic environment recognition, prediction and judgement” software.

The Lexus fleet is currently topped by the LS sedan, which launched in Australia in 2012. It has only sold 23 units to the end of September this year, compared to 233 examples of the segment-dominating S-Class.

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