When you're trying to sell expensive luxury cars, style definitely helps. Jaguar gets it for sure. Mercedes-Benz tends to get it, especially with their coupes like the sleek AMG GT model.
But Lexus? Well, words like "comfortable" and "reliable" are usually the ones people associate with the upscale Toyota brand. But bold styling has rarely, if ever, entered into the equation.
"We heard direct from our president, Akio Toyoda, that 'no more boring cars,'" said Kevin Hunter, head of the Toyota/Lexus Calty design studio in Newport Beach.
The head of the entire Toyota organization instructed Lexus to turn up the wick on style, particularly at Calty, which has had a long history of creating memorable designs for the company's Toyota brand.
Next up, time to turn their attention to spicing up the Lexus side of the company.
"It's really pushing the Lexus taste, the Lexus brand to the next chapter of thinking of exciting and bold and sexy design" Hunter said.
The initial result was a concept car called LF-LC, created in the Newport Beach studio. Like any design, hundreds and hundreds of sketches were done, then tossed.
To show that coming up with an interesting design is not so easy, Lexus offered to let a few invited guests try their hands at it, including car specialist Dave Kunz.
Once the LF-LC concept car was shown to the press and to Lexus dealers, overwhelming approval helped give the green light to turn the concept into a production car, which will come out next spring as the LC-500. What's unusual is that it looks very similar in many ways to the concept car.
Everything is different between the LF-LC and the LC-500 in terms of dimensions.
"But the essence, the taste, the spirit of the concept still lives in the production car," Hunter said.
Those who follow the industry said Lexus really needed to get on the ball with bold designs.
"They were just waiting for something like this to come along. A mandate like this from the top down to get creative - 'we're gonna go there,'" said Steve Siler, a longtime automotive journalist who covers Lexus, among other luxury brands.
Lexus is putting other luxury brands on notice, that it's now bringing its A-game to the design table, trying to shake the "boring" label, for good.
Lexus produces new bold car, LC-500, for spring 2017 release
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