Blog

NEXT LEVEL

INTRODUCING THE SPORTY LEXUS LF-FC, THE BRAND’S ALL-NEW FLAGSHIP CONCEPT

When Lexus unveiled the LF-FC at the 44th Tokyo Motor Show in October, the brand offered a sneak peek into the future. The svelte four-door flagship concept sedan is large, and its dynamic forms are exact and exciting. But while the LF-FC’s exterior styling is worthy of note, it is what lurks beneath that is particularly groundbreaking.

The “FC” in the model’s name stands for “fuel cell,” which references the car’s revolutionary new fuel-cell drive system. Using a fuel-cell stack that mixes two elements that are abundant in nature – hydrogen and oxygen – the LF-FC produces electricity from a small battery, removing the need for a gas-guzzling gasoline engine and the necessity for heavier batteries. The benefits add up. Unlike conventional electric vehicles, refuelling a fuel cell-powered unit only takes a few minutes. It’s also amazingly clean – water vapor is the only emission. Power is transferred to the ground via in-wheel-motors at each front wheel (along with its rear wheel drivetrain), making the model an all-wheel-drive vehicle.

The styling of the original concept vehicle is bold and dynamic. From every angle the sedan appears elegant and sporty (there are cues taken from Grand Touring models here). Its overall demeanor is characterized by a swooping roofline and a low, wide, aggressive stance. The front end features an evolved version of Lexus’s trademark spindle grille (it features a new mesh design), while L-shaped daytime running lights jut out from the front fenders. The rear is highlighted by striking taillights, which seem to be floating in midair.

The LF-FC is not just a showcase of fuel-cell technology. It takes a peek at the future potential of the Lexus luxury vehicle as a whole But the LF-FC’s true character is revealed in its profile. Its silhouette is nothing like that of any other luxury sedan, flowing from front to rear in the manner of a four-door coupe. It possesses a character line that Takeshi Tanabe, product general manager of the Global Design Division, describes as having a slingshot effect – it starts from the A-pillar and sweeps through the roof and down the C-pillar before swinging back toward the front of the body.

The model’s interior is elegant and simple. According to Tanabe, the cabin was designed to allow “humans to coexist with the machinery, and not for humans to have to adapt to it.” The bottom portion of the cabin provides stability, which can be seen in the sturdy foundation of the seats and the side bolsters. The top half (from the hips up) encourages freedom of movement. Seating surfaces are lined with fine Aniline leather, and the dash and doors feature a new wood treatment that showcases the work of Lexus takumi (master craftsmen).

“The wood panels are made of many pieces of cut wood that have been bonded together,” Tanabe says. “It provides a multitextured effect that gives the interior a high dose of opulence.”

Styling is important to Lexus, but so, too, is technology. The LF-FC features a next-generation human machine interface that can be operated by simple gestures, so there is no need to touch a panel or controls. (It can be used to control systems like the stereo and ventilation.) And a brand-new, unique heads-up display system provides navigational instructions (in the form of directional arrows) as if they were screened onto the road in front of the driver.

TEXT BY SAM MITANI
PHOTOGRAPHY BY GREG WHITE