The mega-luxury Lexus LC Coupe will arrive in 2017 with a clear task ahead of it – to pave the way for a big brand image boost for the Japanese luxury car brand. Meanwhile the brand’s local boss is forecasting another record sales year in 2016.
Speaking at the national media launch of the Lexus GS F sports sedan (below), newly appointed Lexus Australia chief executive Peter McGregor firstly confirmed that both the petrol V8 LC 500 and hybrid-powered LC 500h will arrive in Australia next year.
“In 2017 we’ll have the naturally aspirated V8 and … the hybrid version,” McGregor told The Motor Report. “I expect it will strengthen our brand, it is a stunning looking car.”
McGregor could not confirm whether the LC coupe would become the most expensive volume-production Lexus sold here, however, a title currently held by the $240,610 LS 600hl luxury limousine.
“I think even the designation, if you look at LX, LS and LC, it speaks of the overall positioning of the car in its various bodystyle segments,” he continues. “It is a two-door coupe, so it will sit in its sub-segment in the same way that LS sits in sedan and LX sits in SUV. Whether it [LC] sits above [LS] in price point, it will ultimately depend on final specifications.”
The LC 500 (above) is powered by a 348kW 5.0-litre naturally aspirated V8 engine, while the LC 500h mates a 3.5-litre naturally aspirated V6 engine with an electric motor. Both BMW 6 Series rivals claim 0-100km/h in less than 5.0 seconds.
Perhaps price point and sales are not the sole reasons for the LC’s existence, though. Just as the LFA supercar helped boost the image of a car company sometimes referred to as a ‘luxury Toyota’, McGregor says the LC previews the edgy styling destined for a next-generation range of Lexus products.
“I think there is still some work to be done in terms of strengthening the overall brand (and) I think especially our traditional competitors are still quite strong in this area,” he admits. “Lexus has improved over the years, but there is still some work to be done and frankly that work is not going to be completed even in the short term. “This is going to be an ongoing discussion, an ongoing challenge, an ongoing focus that we’ll have I suspect over the medium to long term.”
But, McGregor says:
“If you look at the styling of that vehicle [LC] which was so faithful to the concept car that was first released, it was just a beautiful vehicle, absolutely stunning, and it gives cues, some direction, some indication of the underlying intent of the next iteration of design language of Lexus.” “It will be one of the key elements continuing to strengthen the brand, it [LC] is the next iteration of design language for Lexus, it starts to speak about where Lexus is going in its next stage of development,” he adds.
Lexus finished 2015 with sales 24.2 per cent higher than 2014, although this was almost entirely on the back of the newly launched NX compact SUV (below) that quickly became the brand’s best seller with 2922 units sold of 8691 marque volume.
It was a record year for Lexus, but passenger car sales slumped overall.
McGregor has just taken over the job of Lexus Australia chief executive from Sean Hanley who held the position for three years, and he hopes to build volume further in 2016 thanks to NX, and also a new-generation RX that is only just beginning to fire.
He admits more work needs to be done around passenger car lines such as the IS, ES and GS sedans.
“We want to be mindful of what our competitors are doing, Australia is a very competitive marketplace and you always expect the unexpected for competitors to do something,” McGregor says of the aggressive tactics used in price and equipment terms of marques such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz. “[That said] I would like to think we can end the year with a volume higher than last year, but it has to be achieved in a balanced and responsible manner. We don’t want to be out there buying volume.”