NEW YORK – Many people like Lexus vehicles for their smooth engines, superb driving dynamics and quality craftsmanship.
But bold styling is not something on a lot of Lexus admiration lists. Still, Mark Templin, U.S. sales chief of’s luxury division, bristles at the suggestion Lexus designs are, well, a tad dull.
“Three-and-a-half million Lexus buyers might disagree with that,” he tells Ward’s here at the unveiling of the LF-Gh, a concept car that is touted as representing the future of Lexus design.
The new look is intended to turn heads. “We felt it was time to show the world we are changing and in a bold way,” Templin says.
The vehicle is on the floor of the New York International Auto Show, but Templin isn’t saying when it might find its way to dealership showrooms.
It is similar in size to the existing Lexus GS midsize sedan. If it enters production, the LF-Gh would do battle with competitors such as Mercedes-Benz E-Class,3-Series and Audi A6.
It’s premature to discuss LF-Gh powertrain possibilities, except to say a potential production version would run on a hybrid system. Other than that, “this unveiling is about design,” Templin says.
Simon Humphries, general manager-global design management for Lexus, discusses style cues.
“With the GS, we’ve always had a long cabin in relation to the body, and we kept that,” he tells Ward’s. For the profile, “we’ve also kept the single-line window graphic that ‘slingshotsʼ in the back.”
The hood is raised to create a powerful and ready look. But the front is lower. “Fronts on traditional premiums are up high,” Humphries says. “Ours is down low, with air intakes on both sides of the grille.”
Designers really wanted to leave a style statement with the so-called spindle-shaped grille the Japanese auto maker says “expresses the resolute face of Lexus, contributes to radiator and brake duct function and is an essential element in achieving excellent aerodynamic performance.”
The rear deck has a raised center lid. Wrap-around light-emitting-diode taillamps leave a glowing mark on the widen rear section.
“Auto designers are on a tipping point,” Humphries says. “Everyone is looking for change. What we are saying with this car is that a design can be simple, strong, dynamic and high-profile in the front.”
Lexus says the concept car “also explores the minimization of traditional features such as side mirrors and door handles to enhance the sleekness and improve aerodynamics.”
Forgoing side mirrors may represent a new level of minimalism. On the other hand, as Templin tells journalists who ask about that conspicuous absence, “Remember, this is a concept car.”