F performance plan for LC intrigues

Japan’s specialist media reckons the LC coupe just launched here will have an evil twin within two years. What does the head of Lexus NZ know about this?


POTENTIAL that a big luxury Lexus coupe that has just launched locally might within two years transform into the spiritual successor to the brand’s sole supercar is being considered cautiously by the marque’s local office.

Lexus New Zealand boss Paul Carroll says he cannot offer any level of comment specific to a programme that, according to a reputable Japanese on-line publication, has already seen a muscled ‘F’ edition of the LC just released here running hard laps at Fuji racing circuit, the spiritual home of Lexus’ F-Sport programme.

“I cannot make any comment about that, I’m afraid. I am not at liberty to make any comment about that.”

However, the man who holds the title of ‘senior general manager for Lexus NZ’ has not flat out deflated the veracity of the Best Car Web claim that Toyota’s high-end division is intent on working up the four seat two-door that has just arrived here in V8 500 and V6 hybrid 500h formats, each for $215,000.

The LC F is thought to be set for release in 2019 as a direct rival to the Nissan GT-R.

Carroll acknowledges that Lexus’ status among high-end players was lifted by its LFA, regardless that this supercar only availed between 2010 and 2012 in a run that produced 500 units and – due to its exotic construct – was at around $800,000 too expensive to retail in New Zealand.

Conceivably, he said, having another LFA equivalent would be just as beneficial to the brand image.

“I think those sorts of cars are always a ‘hero’ car – they always attract attention to the brand … our whole strategy with Lexus is to make it more exciting, unique, brave and interesting.

“I think we are doing a really good job of producing product that aligns with that.

“The LFA was only 500 units but it attracted a huge amount of attention and the vehicles are appreciating in value, which is what we wanted them to do.

“Having cars like that is very important to a brand. It would always be nice to have one.

“But I’d have to say, though, that as an LFA successor is concerned, there is nothing that I have heard of to say that we are going to build another LFA any time soon.”

Even so, Best Car Web claims that the LC F will divest the LC5400’s normally-aspirated 5.0-litre V8 for a twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 which, with an expected output of around 447kW, which would make it more powerful than the 411kW LFA and also in a different league to the LC 500, which packs 351kW and 540Nm.

The cited outputs would make the LC F a worthy rival to the established Nissan GT-R, but the report goes on to suggest that the car will be as luxurious and refined as the BMW M6 and Mercedes AMG-GT.

Lexus engineers are reportedly targeting lap times at Fuji that would destroy the Nissan GT-R Nismo, currently the most powerful production car in Japan, and 670Nm torque which would put it in AMG territory.

The big challenge would be getting the weight down.

LFA met that easily, but through expensive means – it was almost wholly made of carbonfibre and other exotic materials.

The LC 500 coupe, though also built on the same Motomachi line as the V10 two-seater, is rendered far more conventionally.

That approach delivers a significant cost saving – basically, a fully-loaded version is still around one quarter the as-new asking price of an LFA – but, of course, there’s a trade-off in weight, with the V8 edition clocking in with a bloated 1941kg at the kerbside.

LFA was too pricey for NZ; conceivably would something like an LC F be more realistic for this country?

“It’s very hard in that sort of area. Obviously we would think about it. We did think about it with LFA but the cost was just so high that we couldn’t justify supporting it. We might have sold one car. It’s just too hard.

“There is one LFA in NZ but that was independently imported.”

Even though the LC 500 media event was partly staged at the Highlands Park racing circuit in Cromwell, and the V8 has the option of an active steering and auto-adjusting rear wing (plus a carbon roof), Carroll enforces it is emphatically not being touted as a sports car.

“It’s totally different to an LFA … it’s a grand tourer. I think it acquitted itself very well (at Highlands) but the general feeling of the engineers developing these sort of cars ... is that they are the sort of vehicle that are grand tourers but you can have a nice, fun time on the track with them.

“That means you can have a car to drive on the road – they have a nice feel to them, but on the track they can also acquit well. Rather than being a vehicle that, acquits very well on the track but shakes your fillings out on the road.”