All-New Lexus LC 500 Word Debut

Turning any concept car into reality is no small feat, not least the striking Lexus LC coupe. According to chief engineer Koji Sato and chief designer Tadao Mori, turning the LF-LC concept into a road car proved to be a complex affair.

“(Akio) Toyoda-san loved the LF-LC design, but knew that it was a great challenge for us, possibly the greatest challenge since Lexus created the original LS,” Sato said. “Every feature on the LC is the result of an integrated approach to design and engineering. The whole team worked together, engineers and designers alike. This is why we have been able to create such a great car,” he added.

Packaging was tasked with greater demands, given the confines of the aesthetics that the team of designers were working with. “Everything presented a challenge, but it was the packaging – how we made use of space in the car – that was the most demanding aspect: how to keep a low roof, but at the same time keep the cabin comfortable or how to fit the car with 21-inch wheels, but still have a low bonnet,” Mori said.

“In fact, to create the low bonnet, our suspension engineers had to rework the components many times before we achieved the effect we wanted. This took months of hard work, but the engineers were so excited about the LC’s design, they were prepared to do what was needed to make it happen,” he added.

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Unsurprisingly, the LF-LC concept set the tone for the eventual launch example. “Because the LF-LC concept was very strong, the final form for the production car was clear from an early stage. This meant we had a different design process to most cars,” Sato said. Along the way, Akio Toyoda’s input played a key role in the design team changing elements of the LF-LC interior, according to Mori.

“When Akio Toyoda sat in the LF-LC for the first time he was impressed but said he could not imagine it as the interior of a genuine driver’s car,” he said. The aim was to create a more welcoming space, one to make the driver and passenger feel comfortable and at home.

“The designers spent a great deal of time driving the LFA and other high performance cars in order to get a deeper understanding of how the engineers’ passion for a great driving experience can be supported by the design of the cabin and the ideal positioning of instruments and controls,” Mori added.

Sato said that hybrid powertrains used to be associated with the notion of eco-friendliness, but the team wanted to change that perception and create a true high-performance package. The biggest hurdle to overcome was creating a control system for the new drivetrain, which was aimed at giving the driver an amazingly responsive car, both on winding roads and on expressways.

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“We had to harness the ‘torque on demand’ that is characteristic of electric motors to secure the right kind of sports driving. The new automatic transmission allows us to do this.” Sato explained. He added that thanks to the Multi Stage Hybrid System (MSHS), there’s more torque at start-up than with the automaker’s V8 hybrid, and the car is able to run at higher speeds on electric power.

Last but not least, the company’s choice of a lithium-ion hybrid battery – a first on a Lexus hybrid – was based on achieving optimum packaging and weight distribution. “It’s compact, so we can provide more space for luggage, and it’s lightweight (at just 50 kg), which helps us improve weight distribution and the car’s yaw inertia moment,” Sato said.

The LC appears set to arrive in Malaysia in both LC 500 form and in hybrid LC 500h guise. The LC 500 is powered by a 467 hp, 527 Nm naturally-aspirated 5.0 litre V8 which also serves in the Lexus RC F and GS F, in this instance paired with a 10-speed torque converter automatic transmission, a first in the luxury segment as Lexus claims.

Meanwhile, its more environmentally-friendly twin, the LC 500h, with the new Lexus Multi Stage Hybrid System which consists of a 3.5 litre V6 petrol engine, two electric motors, a 44.6 kW lithium-ion traction battery and a very unique CVT and four-speed torque converter combo transmission, will perform the century sprint in under five seconds.

GALLERY: Lexus LC 500


GALLERY: Lexus LC 500h