I could have sworn someone at Lexus had made a huge mistake.
The Japanese automaker invited me to Hawaii of all places to experience the company’s new flagship sports car, the LC500. In the days leading up to the event I was fortunate enough to tour around the Big Island in a rental car… although I found that Hawaii can be a difficult place to drive. After all, when you want to stop every 50 feet to take a photo it’s hard to really get into a driving groove. Between the paradisiacal beaches, the lava-spewing volcanoes, and the straight-out-of-Jurassic Park jungles, it’s nearly impossible to keep one’s eyes on the road.
So it was with skepticism on my behalf that I was given an LC500 by the Lexus team and told to drive the belt road around the island to see what the new offering could do. Only hours later, as I rolled back into the Four Seasons Hualalai parking lot to return the car, did I realize that I hadn’t noticed any of the scenery that had so enthralled me days earlier. The driving experience provided by the Lexus had completely monopolized my attention and in doing so, had laid a claim to finally being able to compete with, and possibly defeat, their longtime nemeses from Germany: Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi.
4. Actually Going from Concept to Production
One of the most frustrating aspects of the automotive industry has long been the creation and presentation of concept cars by the world’s automakers. For years, automotive fans have been teased by extravagant and out-of-the-box automotive creations at auto shows and press launches, only to be informed that these ideas will never reach production. Meanwhile, boring and bland models seem guaranteed to arrive in dealerships, contributing to the morass of uninspired mass-market vehicles.
When the LF-LC was introduced a few years back, it seemed like a no-brainer to bring to market, but intrigued gearheads assumed that would be the last they saw of the design. So it was a pleasant surprise when Lexus announced they were going to actually produce a version of the LF-LC concept, eventually producing both the LC500 and the LC500h hybrid version. Also surprising was how similar the new car looked to the original concept, as most cars moving from concept to production experience drastic changes, often removing the very elements that are most appealing. The LC500 manages to maintain the lines from the LF-LC concept while incorporating certain design elements (like the tail lights) found in the current Lexus model range.
We really shouldn’t have to celebrate an auto company for actually producing a concept car, but considering how many Mercedes, BMW and Audi concepts have appeared at global auto shows to excite, only to disappoint when the project is cancelled, we should be excited by the willingness of Lexus to take a chance, and the ability of the Japanese automaker to follow through on such an ambitious project.