Close your eyes and think about the average Lexus owner for a moment. What do you see? Exactly – a cautious retiree with salt and pepper hair whose current life interests include leisurely rounds of golf at the nearby country club, travelling to safe first-world holiday destinations and reading the Spectator over a glass of good red wine.
Are we stereotyping here? Perhaps. But to be honest this consumer profile probably isn’t that far from the truth. Especially here in South Africa where the marque’s faithful certainly appreciate what have always been the cornerstones of the Lexus nameplate: comfort, comfort and comfort. Not to mention comfort. People who purchase a Lexus do so because they can waft around blissfully on a great big wodge of automotive cushiness. They don’t care for sporting pretensions, which is why they don’t buy BMWs or Audis.
Taking this into account you’d expect the Lexus engineers to spend their time working on some silky new air suspension system. Or seats with cushioning softer than freshly fallen snow. Yet bizarrely they have focussed their attention on increasing torsional rigidity. According to the firm’s chief engineer, Koji Sato, the new Lexus LC Coupé is “60 per cent more rigid than the current Lexus GS performance sedan, which results in sharper and more precise, linear handling.”
In fact the LC is – apparently – even more rigid than the old LFA. You know, that manic hypercar that had an engine to rival that of a Formula 1. The LC on the other hand does not have an engine to rival that of a Formula 1. It comes with either a normally-aspirated 5.0-litre V8 (mated to a 10-speed automatic gearbox) or 3.5-litre V6 complemented with a hybrid drivetrain system.
Doesn’t sound terribly sporty now, does it? Nope it does not. So what we’re possibly looking at here is a hard-riding, semi-sporting sports coupé that will probably a) fail to steal many fans from the BMW/Audi camp and b) confuse and potentially alienate the existing customer base. Of course c) I’m totally out of touch with what retirees actually want in a car and all my predictions will be proved wrong. Only time will tell. And I’m dying to see what the outcome is. – Thomas Falkiner