THE Tokyo Motor Show is not about subtlety.
The recent staging of the biennial auto spectacle, only a year short of marking six decades after it was first held, has over the years earned a reputation for its audacious concept cars, awesome tech stuff and downright bizarre rides. All right, in its last four editions or so, the show has noticeably become more restrained with every staging, its presentations becoming plainer, its showgirls getting more covered up in clothes. It’s the annual after-market/tuner-centric Tokyo Auto Salon—which takes place at the start of every year—that picks up the pace in such matters. But, still, the auto industry-fronted Tokyo Motor Show is a slacker not, and one look at Lexus’s display floor proved that.
Sucking up its load of megapixel attention—and not only because of its cherry red paintjob—was the RC coupé, which Lexus intends to launch in its showrooms next year as a 2015 model. Now Lexus has not always been successful at building attractive coupés, to put it mildly, but the carmaker hits the mark with the RC. Lexus was right when it said its new coupé has been injected with emotional appeal.
“The emotional attachment of a coupé is found in its purity of design and its engaging driving experience, and with the RC the engineers have achieved the balance,” said Lexus International Executive Vice President Mark Templin.
According to Lexus, the RC is part of its transformation into a more exciting brand, with the shift having started with the GS and the IS. But the RC is neither a two-door version of a GS or IS but rather a standalone model, albeit sitting on a heavily tweaked GS platform. Power comes from a 314hp, 3.5-liter V6 that bolts to an eight-speed sequential gearbox, or a 2.5-liter four-pot/105-kilowatt hybrid drive with a continuously variable transmission.
In terms of sheer audacity though, it’s the Lexus LF-NX Turbo concept that takes the sushi tray. First appearing at the Frankfurt motor show in September, the LF-NX is Lexus’s response to the “growing segment of smaller, more urban-centric compact premium crossovers. But where the concept distinguishes itself from the herd is in styling, an area where Lexus exercised restraint in the same way a heavy metal concert is quiet. It does not merely speak the corporate design language so much as shout it in a mega-decibel sonic boom. True, the LF-NX is still in concept stage, but Lexus insiders intimated the production version will be toned down only slightly.
At the Tokyo show, the LF-NX’s four-cylinder gas engine was fitted with a turbocharger, backing up the wild exterior looks. When the car debuts as a production model then, it will have the distinction of being the first Lexus to come with a turbo—a system that will find use in the company’s upcoming models.
This, along with the RC, truly defines the future of the Lexus brand.