Toyota and Honda playing catch-up with new looks and models

Article by Anita Panait, on July 30, 2012

Having just recovered from the negative impact of recalls and natural disasters in recent years, Toyota and Honda are playing some catch-up by enhancing its product line-ups with bold styling and new performance models. Both carmakers also suffered different fates in recent years, including the unintended-acceleration problem that prompted Toyota to recall thousands of vehicles and revealed its weakness in some key technical areas.

As for Honda, the carmaker needed to reassert its standing as a powerhouse of powertrains. As for now, Toyota is concentrating on direct injection, turbocharging and advanced transmissions, while Honda is launching its Earth Dreams engine family. Both companies are also making significant moves in the luxury segment.

Toyota’s Lexus unit intends to improve its sedan offerings to measure up better to current leaders Mercedes-Benz and BMW. Honda’s Acura, meanwhile, places a new compact sedan to target luxury rivals Audi, Buick, Infiniti and Volvo. Both luxury units are also currently working on some sports cars. Lexus is believed to be planning to build a production version of the LF-LC high-performance coupe concept while Acura is preparing an NSX designed to target Ferrari models.

Officially revealed to the public by Lexus during the 2012 North American International Auto Show, the LF-LC Concept puts focus on a vehicle that is more driver-oriented. With this hybrid 2+2 sport coupe, Lexus is also showing the world its design direction of the future. Lexus revealed that it all began when the Lexus Center based in Japan issued a challenge to the Calty design studio located in Newport Beach, California.

Specifically, it was to design a concept surrounding a future hybrid sport coupe. To make this happen, the people at Calty wanted to redefine what Lexus is. They wanted a vehicle whose beauty was like a piece of art to bring out emotions. This vehicle was also equipped with state-of-the-art technology. However, it needed to be within reach of the brand’s premium customers.

Calty President Kevin Hunter shared that the whole studio worked together in order to come up with their own interpretation of the originality that has made Lexus a success. He added that the LF-LC is what the studio believes a premium sport coupe could become. The LF-LC actually shows the possible new design language for the brand especially with how it interpreted the brand’s signature spindle grille as well as the architecture used in the rear.

The studio used curves which manage to easily blend to the dynamic angles resulting in an excellent showcase of corners, lines, and shadows. Enclosed with a deep surround composed of aluminum, the spindle grille’s mesh pattern takes on a more 3D form. At the grille’s bottom corners meanwhile, functional air intakes have been placed which highlight the good mix of engineering functionality and unique style.

Lexus Group Vice President and General Manager Mark Templin said that the concept car unveiled at the auto show is a continuation of the design revolution that was started by Lexus particularly with the GS and the CT. This concept hybrid not only frees the notion of what a sport coupe is, he continued, but also pushes the limits in terms of style, performance, and technology.

Topics: toyota, honda

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