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The new Lexus LC represents a shift for the Lexus brand as it pursues a radical new identity that emphasises emotionality, individuality and personality.

04 Aug 2017

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It's not often that car manufacturers produce a radical new model capable of inciting a paradigm shift within the industry. Take for example, the R35 Nissan GT-R. When it was introduced, the GT-R had legitimate supercar-killing abilities - it had supercar performance, without the supercar pricetag.

You'd think that this would be especially difficult for a brand like Lexus, steeped in tradition and heritage. Yet, Lexus was responsible for producing the LFA, a monstrous beast of a car combining beauty, power and engaging handling. 

Now, as the brand engages in a pivot towards becoming a premium luxury brand, Lexus is back with a new model - the new Lexus LC - that is set to challenge what we think of the brand moving forward. We speak to Chief Engineer Koji Sato, himself quite a radical character, to explore five reasons the new Lexus LC represents a radical change for the company. 

The Lexus LC is the pioneering model for the new GA-L platform, which will underpin all of Lexus' future FR models
1. The Lexus LC is the first model to pioneer the new Lexus
GA-L platform

The new Lexus LC sits on a new platform called the Global Architecture for Luxury (GA-L) platform. According to Sato-san, it's a modular platform that will underpin all future Lexus FR (front-engine, rear-wheel drive) models.

He tells us, "As the GA-L platform concept is modular, we can create smaller, wider, shorter or longer vehicles. We can also put bigger tyres, such as on the LC. The 726mm tyre diameter is almost the same as a crossover car's tyres." So technically, this platform is proportionally capable of underpinning future sport utility models, and not just the sedan and coupe body types.

What does this new platform mean for future Lexus FR models? Due to its significantly increased stiffness, models based on the GA-L platform will have enhanced handling, ride smoothness and cabin refinement. And perhaps more importantly, because of the shared platform, future Lexus FR models will have consistent and analogous characteristics that reflect the brand's pursuit for a more specific automotive flavour.

The key intent with the LC was to create a car with a focus on emotional driving, one that reflects the driver's lifestyle
2. The LC reflects a new approach to engineering

When designing the new Lexus LC, Koji Sato approached it from a singular and different perspective, best summed up in a word that he consistently comes back to - emotional. As someone who owns and drives a Toyota Supra, Sato-san is keenly aware of what he calls the vehicle's 'taste'. Models like the Supra, which he says has a very 'natural and clear vehicle behaviour', along with cars like the BMW 6 Series, the Jaguar F-TYPE, the Maserati GranTurismo, and the Porsche 911, form references points from which he developed the LC.

However, it's important to note that these cars aren't seen as benchmarks. Lexus' intent and approach is to create a car with a unique taste, and that is of emotional driving. Lexus' present predominant brand image is one of high quality, good riding comfort and quietness. "With the LC, we are trying to shift the brand towards a more emotional direction," says Sato-san.

The LC is a symbol of that shift. When thinking about the car's design and engineering, Lexus views the car not just as a machine, but an extension of the driver's lifestyle that creates an emotional connection between man and machine. As Sato-san tells us, "The car is supporting daily life. When you are out dining, shopping, or dating, the car is with you every day. It is a symbol of your choices and preferences. Lexus is concerned with the entire experience, not just the car itself."
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