Sounds great, but what about doing a proper LFA successor?
Unlike German luxury and performance automakers, Lexus lacks heritage. There’s no old story about some guy starting the brand in his garage, building a race car and taking on the world. Instead, Lexus was created in a Toyota boardroom more than 30 years ago with the sole purpose of being a luxury division. Fortunately, Lexus has proven itself capable of not just luxury but also supercar performance with the LFA. But the LFA is gone and for a few years following its departure, Lexus kind of lost direction again.
But today’s LC Grand Tourer has given Lexus new found confidence. Speaking to Autocar, Lexus chief Yoshihiro Sawa made clear he’s very happy with that new grand tourer’s success and the overall positive reaction it’s received. “For a while, being new was enough to be exciting, but soon it became quite boring.” Agreed, and it’s very good to hear Sawa recognize that fact. “We don’t have the heritage of our rivals and we now know we must be different from the others in order to stand out.” Remember, the LC started out as a design concept called the LF-LC, which became an immediate international hit. Lexus originally had no intention of building it, but public and press reaction dictated otherwise.
The LC production version very closely resembles that concept, and it’s apparently selling well enough. That’s a lesson learned for Lexus. Newfound confidence is what’s behind the bold and still controversial styling, and reading between Sawa’s lines, it sounds like Lexus design is about to take yet another step forward. But design is only part of it; performance is also needed, especially regarding electrification. Problem with that is parent company Toyota’s acknowledgement that it’s lagging behind in EV tech. By the early 2020s Toyota is planning to be in a better position, but in the meantime Lexus has to make do.
With rivals like BMW and Mercedes all pushing advanced plug-in hybrids and EVs, Lexus is kind of stuck with older tech, so it must work harder. Its newfound confidence couldn’t have come at a better time.