THE LC DESIGN TEAM
It went from a visionary concept to an amazing road-going car. The team behind the grand LC coupé due in SA early next year share their insights.
Lexus Chief Designer #Tadao-Mori
and Chief Engineer Koji Sato shared the challenges their teams faced during the development of the new Lexus luxury coupé, the LC. This grand coupé was a sensational hit when it was revealed at the Detroit Motor Show earlier in the year, breaking the rule that production cars can never be as radical as their original design prototypes.
Says Sato, “You might think the LC project simply involved turning the LF-LC concept into a road car, but it was far more complex than that. #Toyota-Motor-Corporation
(TMC) President Akio Toyoda loved the original LF-LC design, but knew that it was a great challenge for us, possibly the greatest challenge since Lexus created the original LS”. As an engineer, he wanted the car to have great performance, while Chief Designer Tadao Mori wanted a great looking car. They had the same goal and worked together to achieve some amazingly imaginative solutions. “Every feature on the LC is the result of an integrated approach. The team worked together, to create a great car,” Sato said of the result.
Everything presented a challenge: how to keep a low roof, but keep the cabin comfortable; how to fit the car with 21-inch wheels, but have a low bonnet. Many new technologies have been applied to the new LC, but the team are more proud of some. “Obviously there are elements such as the carbon fibre and aluminium door construction, the introduction of Lexus Safety System+ and the new Remote Touch interface,” says Sato.” The LC also has a shift-by-wire system, which is a first for Lexus.”
Added Mori, “I was thrilled how we were able to achieve the small overhangs by designing one of the world’s slimmest headlight units, which uses sophisticated lenses to focus the LED beams.”
Another breakthrough was with the front suspension towers. Constructing them from aluminium saved more than 10kg compared to conventional steel. Having the LF-LC in place as a design template cemented the final form for the production car at an early stage. Detailing the interior required a different approach. “The concept’s interior was not that of a true driver’s car, so we set to work to create a more welcoming space. We wanted to make the driver and passenger feel comfortable and at home, something you can see in details like the two handgrips placed next to the passenger seat.”
The designers spent a great deal of time driving the LFA supercar and other high-performance cars in order to get a deeper understanding of how the engineers’ passion for a great driving experience can be supported by the design of the cabin and the ideal positioning of instruments and controls Under the skin, the team’s ambition to deliver pure driving pleasure on the hybrid model resulted in the use of the revolutionary Multi Stage Hybrid System (MSHS). This new Lexus system combines elements of a traditional full hybrid powertrain – including 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine, electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack – to a four-speed automatic gearbox mounted at the rear of the hybrid transmission. “In the past,” says Sato, “people associated hybrid with eco. With the MSHS, we wanted to change that perception and create a true high-performance package.”
“The biggest hurdle we had to overcome was creating a control system for the new drivetrain that delivered on our aim to give the driver an amazingly responsive car, both on winding roads and on a highway. We had to harness the ‘torque on demand’ that is a characteristic of electric motors to secure the right kind of sports driving. The new automatic transmission allows us to do this,” Sato said.
The car will do exactly what the driver wants. If they are in a sporty mood, they can take advantage of the instant and linear torque delivery. The decision to configure 10 speeds for the system was based on the ambition to provide the ultimate balance of performance driving.
TOP: LC Chief Designer Tadao Mori with the #Lexus-LC-500h
. ABOVE: LC Chief Engineer #Koji-Sato
. BELOW: The LC will be available in SA from early #2017
ABOVE : The LC production car is a close replica of the #Lexus-LF-LC