Lexus is to show a new concept, the LF-Gh, at the New York International Auto Show next week – signalling a future design direction for the brand, which is the premium arm of Toyota.
The concept car is also expected to form the basis for the next Lexus GS, which competes in the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6 executive car sector.
With the new GS due to be launched in 2012, the LF-Gh is the first clear signal that Lexus intends to become much more competitive within the profitable executive car sector.
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Lexus LF-Gh: bolder design
Unlike the current GS, the Lexus LF-Gh features bold styling with a more obvious saloon-like profile. This will help it compete better against best-selling rivals, such as the BMW 5 Series saloon (which the exterior dimensions of the Lexus LF-Gh closely mirror).
Another striking design feature is the ‘spindle’ front grille. According to Lexus, this is aerodynamically-optimised and improves cooling to the radiator and brake ducts. It will be a ‘key feature for future Lexus cars’.
The rear-wheel drive saloon has air intakes next to the front LED fog lights and corresponding air outlets by the rear lights. The door mirrors and handles also hint at future aerodynamics-influenced developments.
Lexus LF-Gh: interior preview
Lexus is not revealing much about the interior, other than saying ‘every detail has been newly scrutinised’, and the LF-Gh is ‘intuitive to use’. This may indicate the shelving of the controversial mouse-style control system used on the current Lexus RX and CT 200h.
The concept also has an analogue clock in the dash centre that Lexus is calling another shift in its design philosophy.
The concept car is described as a four-seater, interestingly. This may suggest Lexus has paid particular attention to rear-seat comfort and equipment, with special seats and trimmings. However, we would expect a five-seat version to be offered, too.
Lexus LF-Gh: hybrid power
The LF-Gh uses a hybrid drivetrain, signalled by blue LED Lexus Hybrid Drive badges on the grille and boot lid. This is expected to further improve on the class-first hybrid technology used by the Lexus GS 450h.
Lexus has not fully capitalised on its hybrid leadership in the sector, due to the low-profile design and average drive of the GS 450h. Lexus needs to reassert its position soon, as many hybrid rivals are due on sale, including the Infiniti M35h, Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series.
The firm thus says the LF-Gh provides hints that ‘the flow of exhaust gases will be significantly reduced’ – this suggests both much-improved emissions performance and even a potential plug-in hybrid drive element, for added zero-emissions range.
More details of the Lexus LF-Gh will be revealed next week, prior to a potential production car preview at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.
Read our guide to green car technologies to find out more about hybrid cars
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