Lexus small car to make its U.S. debut sooner than expected

Article by Christian A., on November 21, 2009

Not only is the Lexus LF-Ch Concept headed for production for the European market, it is likely that the hatchback will be offered in the US as well.

Lexus general manager, Mark Templin, made this confirmation during a Detroit Bureau interview given recently. In the US, the Lexus will be competing against the Audi A3, BMW 1-Series, Volvo C30 and Mini Cooper. Of the four, only the Mini Cooper has been able to sell in big numbers.

The Lexus concept will make an appearance at the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show as well as in Detroit, where Lexus officials will be testing how potential consumers react to a premium priced small car.

In Europe, the small premium car is largely accepted but in the US, it still has a long way to go. It's believed that its appeal will rise if fuel prices rise too. Despite pressures to lower the price, Lexus said that it will not downgrade or take away any of its prime features.

The production LF-Ch is likely to have a conventional powertrain as standard fitment, Lexus will need a hybrid in order to compete with the A3 TDI and a possible 1-Series hybrid or diesel down the line.

Lexus LF-Ch Concept was unveiled in September at the the Frankfurt Motor Show. According to the the luxury carmaker, the new hybrid reflects the demand for smaller and fuel efficient cars, but sans losing comfort or driving pleasure. The LF-Ch represents Lexus’ commitment to Europe, as it marries compact dimensions, stylish five-door, full hybrid technology and low emissions.

The new Lexus LF-Ch concept represents an evolution of Lexus' L-finesse design philosophy. It features a new bolder grille design sitting above a deep, full-width bumper and air dam. It also features new wings as well as an aerodynamic tunnel overlapping the front bumper to pave way for the deep front brake-cooling air intakes.

Inside, the new Lexus LF-Ch concept features same L-finesse design philosophy. It employs materials such as semi-aniline leather, polished aluminum or wood complete the theme of harmonious contrast. It also employs the Lexus Remote Touch controls that were first seen in the new RX 450h. This way distracting instrumentation and switchgear are kept to a minimum.

Lexus Europe boss Matthew Harrison has revealed that Lexus LF-Ch will go into production by 2011. He also confirmed that small Audi A5-rivalling SUV could also be joining the Lexus LF-Ch hatchback as the carmaker needs a smaller SUV since it is one of the premium sectors that is growing.

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