Right from the start, something was different. There I was, sitting in the audience of the Lexus press conference at the Detroit Auto Show, watching as Toyota President Akio Toyoda spoke earnestly about his goals for the Lexus brand. It was a refreshing presentation, full of humility and hope, and it culminated with the video introduction of a new Lexus model.
You have likely seen this video — it starts with the Lexus LF-LC concept being smashed to pieces by a giant wrecking ball, only to reveal what turns out to be the production LC 500. On the edge of my seat, I waited for the wrecking ball to swing back, to dull the edges, to soften the excitement.
In a way, we knew what to expect. Earlier reports had solidified around a new flagship coupe, based on the LF-LC and powered by a 5.0L V8 engine. But no rumor could have prepared us for the reality of the Lexus LC 500. It truly is the concept made real.
“Keeping the design of the LF-LC is a symbol of the challenge of our brand,” LC chief engineer Koji Sato explains to me in a later interview, and it’s a telling statement.
Sato-San spoke mostly of the collaboration between the vehicle designers and engineers, who had to meet an accelerated deadline while staying true to the original concept. The team embraced the design constraints of the LF-LC, even when it meant creating an entirely new vehicle platform or a new multilink suspension that would fit under the sculpted front fenders.
There are differences between concept and production, particularly when it comes to dimensions. The LC 500 has grown nearly 5 inches in length and 3.1 inches in height, while the width has been reduced by 2.2 inches. To increase interior room, the wheelbase has also increased by 2.8 inches.
It was difficult to get a sense of the LC’s interior without sitting inside, and even so, the endless crowds would have made it difficult to gain any real perspective. The one thing that stood out is the contrast — where the exterior is diamond-hard, the pure-leather interior practically radiated luxury and comfort:
There’s an obvious comparison to the LFA and its no-compromises development, but the new LC coupe represents the brand’s potential more than the supercar ever could. Both cars are a showcase of passion and technology, but the LFA always seemed like the end of a journey. The LC feels like the beginning of a bright new future.