With the end of the production run of Lexus’ LFA sports coupe on Dec. 14, it loses its halo car that had been highly successful for the two years that was in production. The 552-hp V-10 sports coupe, which has a price tag of $375,000, was designed to be the best expression of Lexus quality and performance.
It was so coveted that even before production started in December 2010, its limited run of 500 hand-built units had already sold out. The timing of its departure is unfortunate since Lexus is currently struggling to get itself reinvented as an emotional and exciting brand. Lexus executives agree that they require a new halo. When interviewed on Dec. 17, Lexus Executive Vice President Kazuo Ohara said that for its plan to become a “more emotional brand,” it should have a halo car.
But he clarifies that consumers shouldn’t expect another rarefied supercar with the extremely high price. He said that Lexus has various ideas to generate “youthful excitement” from the usually dull premium marque.
This means that Lexus will have to get more people excited about nonhalo cars that will be driven on city streets instead of being displayed at the garages of very rich car collectors. According to executives, the new Lexus will deliver the following: “a more impassioned design, new drivetrains, better customer service, and sexier marketing.”
Lexus has only just started to implement the changes, beginning with the redesigned GS sedan that made its debut early this year. Mark Templin, the brand's global marketing chief, said that this overhaul may drive Lexus' U.S. sales back to a level higher than 300,000 units in two or three years.
Lexus achieved its peak in the U.S. in 2007 with sales of 329,177 units. In 2012 through November, volume increased by 23% to 213,559 units. Last year, Lexus was stripped of its title as the top U.S. luxury automaker. Lexus held this title for 11 years. Lexus now still falls behind German automakers Mercedes and BMW. Templin said that if the overall market rises to about 16 million, Lexus will again have to beat the 300,000-unit mark.
The all-new Lexus LFA features a front-mid engine layout, short overhangs and long wheelbase. It is also equipped with refined aerodynamics and a low-slung cabin. These features complement the car’s lines that flow from the roof all the way to the ledge in a seamless arch to concave line. The use of carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) not only contributes to the car’s high strength and low weight but also allows the designers to create curves, edges and shapes with freedom.
The styling upholds the L-finesse principle which is the rationale behind the design of the recent Lexus models. As seen in the car’s aerodynamic details and air intakes, form always follows function even in the door mirror design which is tailored to channel air from the shoulders of the car all the way to its rear intakes.
FINEST INTERIOR DESIGN
The car’s low-slung cabin is composed of three zones. The first one is the mechanical zone where the skeleton of the car’s construction belongs; second is the human zone where two seats are placed in the center of the car; and finally, the third one is the driving zone that includes the high-tech instrumentation which brings the machine and the driver together.
This model boasts a hand-built cabin which features driver-focused ergonomics. Its seat upholstery comes in Alcantara and fine leather and these seats offer high levels of side and back support necessary in a vehicle which endures up to 200mph-plus of performance.
Its trim complements the high-end materials used in Lexus LFA's construction and its carbon fiber body features a gloss and matte finishing.