At the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) held in Detroit last week, Toyota Motor Corporation's President Akio Toyoda made it clear that the Japanese corporation was listening to fans and critics when thinking about the future of the Lexus luxury line.
Toyada's keynote focused squarely on the idea of "emotion" in Lexus, an instinct that many saw as lacking, and one that Toyoda saw as an important step forward in the firm's forthcoming projects.
Toyoda's announcement of the all-new "Lexus LC 500" luxury coupe was the first step in bringing "emotion" back to the brand; albeit emotion with a six-figure price tag. As with most examples of clear change, the shift must start at the top or bottom; in Lexus' case, it's all about high-end performance and attitude.
"Something was a little bit missing," says Koji Sato, chief engineer at Lexus during a short interview following the announcement of the 500 model. "We're car guys and love to drive. We knew we missed something [and] we needed to create a great car to make you scream...and show that emotion and energy. Lexus is moving to a more emotional brand. Therefore we try to create and show brand direction with this car."
It's a sentiment shared by his counterpart, Tadao Mori, chief designer at Lexus, who along with Sato, pushed through the "LC 500" under the guidance of Toyoda.
That guidance helped deliver what many consider to be the best new Lexus since the original LF-LC concept that spawned the "LC 500"'s unique design and lines. And looks, as we know, are just as important as the engineering driving the model.
"The side view gives a low gravity silhouette," Sato reminds us. "You can see the 21-inch wheel - that's a big tire. Engineers did a good job of fitting a nice suspension system in very little space. That's why the car silhouette is awesome. Also, when you see the car at the three-quarter view, you can see the rear fender and the wheels. It's an exciting element, but we also need to show elegance."
As the "LC 500" moves from concept to showroom model next year, the new emotive direction of Lexus will become clear to those drivers looking for a strong connection from this 467-horsepower driving machine.