For 25 years, Lexus has won top honors for quality and customer satisfaction—but criticism for conservative looks, bland personality and an uninvolving driver experience. Now, the brand is committing to radically change those perceptions and show the world that strong design language and impressive performance are priorities. And the person who stands behind this push toward radical is none other than Akio Toyoda, the president of parent company Toyota(TM).
Lexus has announced it will reveal three important vehicles between now and the New York show in the spring. The first shot over the hood is a concept Lexus revealed today at the 2014 LA Auto Show, the LF-C2. The sexy 2+2 roadster is a design-only statement (no performance specs were announced) that takes existing Lexus styling cues—L-shaped head- and taillights, a spindle grille and air intakes—to new heights of extreme. The LF-C2 will likely be polarizing, but no one will argue that its liquid-metallic paint is some of the finest ever to hit a show floor (Lexus applied a coat of silver under the paint and clear-coat).
I have not been a fan of Lexus’s look and feel, so the LF-C2 is a welcome and dramatic newcomer. The grille is so extreme it’s admirable and the extended headrests—fairings—are both alluring and aerodynically functional, a credible combination.
To underline Lexus’s desire to gain more and younger fans, the company has just launched three new models showing up at dealerships now: The RC coupe, its testosterone-drenched sibling, the high-performance RC F AND the NX crossover. I’ve driven only the RC F (which bears more than a passing sibling resemblance to the LF-C2)—and can vouch for its ferocious capabilities and eye-catching looks.
Lexus says no production announcement is going to be made anytime soon for the LF-C2, but the company is surely gauging interest and reaction. In the meantime, look to the Detroit and New York shows to see two important production-vehicle unveilings that will continue to prove—we hope—the company’s newfound passion for passion.