Lexus may not offer the horsepower to compete with its German rivals, but it certainly offers the most grille of any luxury marque. Its newest “flagship concept” takes the brand’s spindle face to endgame, as there’s no more room left on the front of the car. Indeed, the most striking feature of the LF-FC, a car that can only point at the styling direction of the next-generation LS sedan, is its grille.
Stretching from the bottom lip of the front fascia, mere inches above the tarmac, to headlamp level, the chain-link-esque design would eat up the hood if it grew any larger. As with the rest of the Lexus product line, some will find beauty in it; others will see a big fish mouth with barbed daytime running lamps resembling hooks stuck in its vertical air-intake gills. Profile views suit the car best, where its enormous 208.7-inch length and short overhangs give it proportions befitting a top-tier luxury car. Certainly the low 55.5-inch height, 21-inch carbon-fiber wheels, and sculpted fenders create the illusion that Lexus has wrapped its metal skin tightly around a muscular mechanical package.
While that may be the case once the LF-FC moves closer to reality, today the powertrain is strictly theoretical. That “FC” part of the name stands for “fuel cell,” and while Toyota has a production fuel-cell vehicle in the Mirai, that car does not resemble what is described here. Lexus says the LF-FC uses two in-wheel electric motors in the front, with a larger electric drive motor in the rear. This gives the car four-wheel drive, as well as allowing for a torque-vectoring system. (Think the Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive in the Acura NSX.) The LF-FC’s fuel cell is mounted under its hood, with a battery pack in the rear of the car, above its rear motor. Hydrogen tanks reside in the space normally occupied by the driveshaft and under the rear seats.
A laundry list of car-show technology buzzwords accompany the Lexus concept: “floating” front seats, gesture control, a holographic center console, and automated driving. But nobody from Lexus is pretending that these aspects of the concept are headed for production. The LF-FC is all about the design. What you see is what we’ll get when the new LS arrives in 2017.