Lexus unveiled its concept hybrid, the LF-Gh, to the world at an event the eve before the official opening of the New York Auto Show press days here. Mark Templin, group vice president and general manager, said the concept car takes the brand’s 10-year-old design philosophy, dubbed L-Finesse, to an “exponential jump” and sets out to redefine the premium grand touring sedan.
“I promise you many elements you see on this car you’ll see on upcoming Lexus models,” he said, although he declined to say when that new look make its first appearance.
The LF-Gh moniker stands for Lexus Future Grand Touring Hybrid. The Lexus design team was aiming to create be a high-performance concept capable of providing a moving driving experience at higher speeds on long-distance drives while transporting four passengers in roomy comfort while still offering good cargo area.
Kengo Matsumoto, general manager of the Lexus Design Division, said his team studied characteristics that are often contradictory. The team wanted to balance items like style and functionality, which he called “normally opposing qualities.”
The concept has a wide, athletic stance that gives it an agile on-road presence. The LF-Gh has a tapered torso and long cabin with front and rear-wheel arches. The intent of the dynamic front fenders is to create a sense of movement and a low-crouching center of gravity. The raised hood hints of ready-to-pounce performance on 20” wheels.
The front sports a bold, spindle-shaped grille that plays a key role in aerodynamic performance for the hybrid, built on an advanced, rear-wheel-drive platform. The fascia also features unique LED headlamps and independent L-shaped LED daytime running lights. There are no side-view mirrors. The rear has wrap-around LED tail lamps with intricately designed reflectors behind all-red lenses.
The 192.5-inch-long sedan is powered by Lexus Hybrid Drive. The car is 73.6 inches wide, with a wheelbase of 112.2 inches. The size is similar to the current GS.
“Customers have been waiting for a bold concept like this from Lexus,” Templin said. “I don’t know that we needed” a new look for the brand, he said. “We always want to stay ahead of the market. We try to reach into the future and deliver what people want.”
Templin noted that the next wave of new-car buyers are entering the market, 75 million strong from the ages of 16-to- 30. “We want to make an impact on them.”
Lexus has been most popular with Baby Boomers, although Templin said more than 40% of buyers for the new CT200h model are under 35 years old and 60% are conquests from outside Toyota.
Sometime in the future Lexus could have hybrids for all models in its lineup, Templin added.
To drum up awareness of the concept hybrid sedan, Lexus drove a moving installation around Manhattan before the event. Lexus had air-brushed covers over four of their regular production cars showing the LF-Gh in its different development stages, from a pencil concept to real life. Interested armchair spectators can check it out at the LF-Gh microsite www.lexus.com/braceyourself.
JEAN HALLIDAY is a seasoned journalist with the nation’s longest consecutive run covering auto advertising. Her years in the trenches include stints at Automotive News, Adweek and Advertising Age. The native New Yorker now lives outside the Motor City. You can read Jean’s blog at AutoAdOpolis.wordpress.com.