Until very recently, hybrid powered vehicles could be likened to appliances. They are often rather bland and utilitarian as designers have focused more on the business of fuel economy rather than the driving experience. More than any other company, Toyota has proven that they are the masters of building reliable hybrid drivetrains. The next logical challenge of course is how to get mainstream consumers interested in more upscale hybrids.
The answer of course is to create more sensual curves than a runway model and dress them in the finest designer duds. Of course a real world driving experience will be key also. The answer may just be the Lexus LF-Gh.
Unveiled at a New York International Auto Show media party the night before the show opened to the media, the LF-Ch hints at the direction that future Lexus models will take. The big draw for the party was the fact that it was hosted by Iron Chef Morimoto. In reality, the party was catered by Morimoto and most people at the event had no clue who he was. Even several friends of mine who are huge foodies, did not know who “the boss” was until I pointed it out later in the evening.
The overall design is far from ground breaking, but the way the 3 box sedan is pulled together with sensually aggressive details hints that this should be a performer. Other hints to that end are the sculpted 20″ alloy wheels and shaped, stainless exhaust tips similar to those found on the Lexus IS-F.
In their media package, Lexus talks at length about the LF-Gh setting a new standard for Grand Touring type vehicles. If that is the case, then the hybrid drive system is going to have to be one heck of a lot more exciting than a Prius. We know that Porsche has successfully built and raced a hybrid 911, so we know that building a high performance hybrid system can be done.
Lexus has made no statements regarding what performance we might expect from the LF-Gh beyond this little gem:
The LF-Gh was designed to be a high-performance concept capable of providing a moving driving experience, and comfortably transporting multiple occupants at higher speeds on long-distance drives.
I’m not sure if that is the definition of a Grand Touring type vehicle, but it will be interesting to see what level of performance is being projected. Lexus are also quick to point out that this is a concept vehicle, but it looked closer to being a production vehicle than some of the other machines we saw in New York.