Not being able to gaze our eyes at the best-looking Lexus in years would have been tragic.
Lexus has been turning heads this year with the its sublime-looking LC 500 coupe, which is set to become the manufacturer's flagship model when it goes on sale next year. While previous cars from Lexus have been branded as boring and bland, the striking design of the LC 500 is anything but. Even its bombastic advertising campaigns are unlike anything we've seen before from the automaker. However, in an interview with Automotive News, Lexus revealed that the LC 500 very nearly didn't happen.
The concept car for the LC 500 debuted at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show. Known as the LF-LC, Lexus said it was never originally intended to go into production, citing the slow uptake of its legendary LFA supercar and a need to regenerate interest for the brand as part of the automaker's rebirth. "The LFA was way too limited in volume, too expensive," said Brian Smith, Lexus' vice president for marketing. "When was the last time you saw an LFA driving down the road?" However, reactions to the LF-LC were so strong that Lexus gave it the production green light. To achieve this, the automaker has been keeping costs down by borrowing components from existing cars in the Lexus line-up as well as other sources.
The LC 500's 5.0-liter V8 engine, for example, has been sourced from the GS F and the RC F. Meanwhile, the in-house GA-L rear-wheel-drive platform developed for the LC 500 is expected to underpin all Lexus sedans in the future, as will its 10-speed automatic transmission sourced from Aisin and the new hybrid V6 powertrain in the LC 500h. The price for the LC 500 has yet to be revealed, but Lexus expects it to carry a price tag of between $80,000 and $120,000. The V8 LC 500 is being positioned as the base model, while the LC 500h hybrid will be the high-end model which Lexus is marketing as the grand-touring version of the two.
That said, the automaker predicts 85 to 90 percent of buyers in the US will snap up the base LC 500 over the hybrid. Future variants of the LC 500 have also been hinted at including a convertible version, which is vital if Lexus is to keep up with its competitors, an AWD model and a high-performance model. Sadly, a turbocharged version of the 5.0-liter V8 won't be possible in the current LC 500 according to an engineer, so we'll probably have to wait until a mid-cycle update for that. Lexus seems confident about its upcoming flagship coupe, and is expecting to sell around 400 a month in the US which would put it in-line with its core competitors: the Jaguar F-Type, BMW 6 series and Mercedes' SL and S-class coupe.
Unlike the limited LFA supercar which was something of a dream car, the desirable LC is more within reach: "This is really just a matter of taking that same sort of halo approach as the LFA and saying we're going to make sure that people can drive it," Smith said. "The LC has the chance now to really get enough owners; you'll actually see them on the road."