Feature: A new look for Lexus   LF LC concept auto articles auto brands
Lexus LF-LC concept. Click image to enlarge

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Lexus Canada

Article and photos by Paul Williams

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Lexus LF-LC concept

Lexus has held the line on its L-Finesse design philosophy for several years, but times and tastes change, and the brand’s styling is again on the move. The 2011 Lexus CT200h compact wagon was the first departure, and the all-new 2013 Lexus GS sedan continues the design evolution.

Revealed late last year at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the new GS was also seen at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show and at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show. It wears a new Lexus “spindle” grille, for example, which we’ll see across the Lexus line-up as updated and new models are released.

This grille will readily identify older Lexus models from new ones (and will instantly date them, of course). But grilles can be polarizing — it’s the face of the vehicle, after all, and everyone wants a nice face — so car companies can’t risk a blunder. On the GS, I must admit, I was initially skeptical (the “shock of the new,” perhaps). The way the “L” for Lexus traces the left corner of the grille, with a reversed version tracing the right corner seemed a bit contrived to me.

Feature: A new look for Lexus   LF LC concept auto articles auto brands
Lexus LF-LC concept. Click image to enlarge

But then The LF-LC Concept rolled out at Detroit with the same type of grille, and I was sold on the idea that this design can look great.

The LF-LC (surely they could have come up with a better name) is a striking two-plus-two sport coupe designed by the company’s Calty studio in Newport Beach, California. The vehicle represents a future vision of Lexus vehicle design, and embodies themes and elements that, like the grille, will find their way into production cars.

There were lots of “oohs” and “aahs” when the wraps came off this car. It’s certainly a stunning vehicle and it makes a forceful statement about the Lexus brand. However, the LF-LC is not planned as a production vehicle; at least, not according to Lexus press releases and personnel (who know the press releases by heart).

Still, Lexus already has one supercar in the form of the very expensive (US $375,000 estimated) LFA two-seat coupe, other luxury companies offer vehicles like the LF-LC that are similarly exotic but considerably more affordable than the LFA, and the Lexus SC arguably needs a replacement. So never say never.

Feature: A new look for Lexus   LF LC concept auto articles auto brands
Feature: A new look for Lexus   LF LC concept auto articles auto brands
Lexus LF-LC concept. Click image to enlarge

What is known for sure is that the LF-LC is built on a front-engine, rear-drive platform and that it’s a putatively a hybrid. No further details were supplied in Detroit about the drivetrain (other than that it is “advanced”) although the LF-LC’s glass roof and futuristic interior were discussed at length.

Inside, driver inputs come from a touch-screen control board, with twin 12.3-inch screens providing information and navigation data. Other touch-screen surfaces on each door operate the windows, mirrors, seat adjustments and personal entertainment settings.

The cabin features a combination of leather and suede, with brushed metal trim and wood accents. The front seats are race-inspired, matching the racing style steering wheel. Overall, the interior is perhaps more futuristic (or fanciful, depending on your point of view) than the exterior, but it appeared to be a big hit with the majority of attending journalists.

Basically, I think, the car speaks for itself. The overall effect should contribute to an emerging perception of the Lexus brand as a high-luxury, high-technology, high-performance nameplate. For car enthusiasts, the introduction of vehicles like this is always welcome; for consumers, it gives an indication of how Lexus may evolve in the future.

You can see a Lexus video of the LF-LC, which provides a closer look at its interior and exterior details, here. And if you want a closer look at the new GS, check Autos.ca later this month for our first drive review.

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