A DYNAMIC STRUCTURE AND
THE NEW LEXUS RC PAIRS GLAMOUR WITH
STRENGTH TO THRILLING EFFECT, AND REPRESENTS A NEW
STAGE IN THE PREMIER AUTOMOTIVE BRAND'S EXCITING JOURNEY
The latest fleet of Lexus concept and production models can be described as innovative and revolutionary, bold and cutting-edge. But sexy? That’s an adjective few had associated with Japan’s premier automotive brand – until the unveiling of the Lexus RC, that is.
A sharply styled coupe that evokes both glamour and elegance, the RC debuted at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show last fall and takes its design cues from a number of its predecessors. The spindle grille, now a widely recognized Lexus motif of excellence, is the marque’s widest and lowest application of a grille to date. (It is 30 millimeters wider, 35 millimeters lower and 70 millimeters shorter in wheelbase than that of the new IS line.) On either side of the grille sit triangular headlight casings inspired by the LFA, the most formidable Lexus vehicle to date.
At the rear, the combination taillight has been given an aggressive three-dimensional appearance, shaped into an L to emphasize its brand identity. And the taillight’s interior has been uniquely engineered to feature hairline carvings so that when the driver applies the brakes, the taillight illuminates as if from behind – a subtle design treatment that represents Lexus’s meticulous attention to detail.
Inside, Lexus’s first purpose-built lighting system illuminates upward to envelop
the cabin in light. Genuine shimamoku (tightly layered wood) highlights accentuate the surrounding trim and provide opulent character.
“By ‘sexy,’” explains Yasuo Kajino, chief designer at the Lexus Design Division, “we mean beautiful packaging, a visually dynamic structure and a low and wide body shape, all of which comes with Lexus’s state-of-the-art technology.”
The RC will fill a long-standing gap in the Lexus lineup. “When we looked at the freshly carved model of this car, we were immensely excited because we were doing what hadn’t been done before: making a coupe,” recalls Junichi Furuyama, previously chief engineer of the RC. “To strengthen the emotional value of the brand and to appeal to younger generations, introducing a coupe to the range was a must for Lexus.”
TO STRENGTHEN THE EMOTIONAL VALUE OF
THE BRAND AND TO APPEAL TO YOUNGER
GENERATIONS, INTRODUCING A COUPE
TO THE RANGE WAS A MUST FOR LEXUS
Purposefully pared back to put focus on performance, the RC will provide one of the purest and most exhilarating Lexus driving experiences. It will be as luxurious as it is high performing, says Furuyama, and will “deliver superior drivability at a higher speed or in a higher g-force environment.”
The RC is safe: it is the first Lexus model to adopt the upgraded blind-spot monitor system, which detects approaching vehicles at a higher speed and from a greater distance than the current system. And it is also impressively rigid. Its underbody rockers and door panels have been made extra thick to support driving performance, and many of its components have been welded by a laser beam, an existing technique that has been perfected here and strengthens the vehicle’s chassis. Wide, bulging fenders hang over 19-inch tires. Two large exhaust pipes protrude from the rear. The cabin, lean and quiet inside, is confident and sporty. The RC looks bold and strong because it is, and it has taken a lot of hard work to make it that way.
“It was very difficult to achieve an overall stiffness of the body,” Furuyama says. “The challenge was, how could we achieve rigidity while staying true to Lexus’s L-finesse philosophy?” (L-finesse is the brand’s design guidance system, comprising three concepts: seamless anticipation, incisive simplicity and intriguing elegance.)
The answer, he says, was to take cues from acclaimed concept models – to masterfully package beautiful, technologically advanced elements into one comfortable and highly functional driving environment.
TEXT BY SHOGO HAGIWARA
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MIKIO HASUI