Lexus LC 500

Automobile - - Design Of The Year -

MORE THAN ONE Au­to­mo­bile staff mem­ber voted for the Lexus LC500 as our De­sign of the Year—it is the most stylish pro­duc­tion Lexus since Er­win Lui’s sem­i­nal wet-plas­ter-in-a-rub­ber-bal­loon LS 400 of 1991. The con­cept de­sign was de­scribed in some de­tail in our June 2016 is­sue, but it’s well worth tak­ing a closer look at the pro­duc­tion model—so close to the con­cept car pre­sented at the 2016 Detroit show that any dif­fer­ences don’t greatly mat­ter—to see why it’s not quite De­sign of the Year ma­te­rial.

If there is one thing all good car-body de­sign­ers know, it is that pro­por­tion is king. Just as real es­tate agents in­sist that the three most im­por­tant as­pects of any given prop­erty are “lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion,” so “pro­por­tion” eas­ily oc­cu­pies the first half dozen or so vi­tal points of a car de­sign. Then and only then come line, sur­face de­vel­op­ment, and de­tail­ing. Get all of those mat­ters prop­erly or­ga­nized and prop­erly treated, and you might well have an all-time win­ner. Some ex­am­ples: Jean Bu­gatti’s Type 55 road­ster, Gor­don Buehrig’s Cord 810/12 sedans, Pin­in­fa­rina’s (and Gio­vanni Savonuzzi’s) Cisi­talia 202 coupe, Bob Bourke’s 1953 Stude­baker coupe, Er­win Komenda’s Porsche 911, Al­brecht Graf Go­ertz’s BMW 507, Mal­colm Sayer’s Jaguar E-type, Bill Mitchell’s ’60s Buick Riviera, Gior­getto Gi­u­giaro’s VW Golf, and Mar­cello Gan­dini’s Lam­borgh­ini Miura.

The LC, even if not in that league, truly de­serves an hon­or­able men­tion. It’s a good de­sign. It hits the pro­por­tions as­pect of great­ness al­most per­fectly, but it falls down a bit in mat­ters of in­ter­sect­ing lines, con­flict­ing dis­crete de­tails, and that unique and def­i­nitely not beau­ti­ful over­sized grille. Its in­te­rior brings us zero in­no­va­tion, cre­ation, or for­ward-look­ing imag­i­na­tion. But it’s ex­tremely well-ex­e­cuted and far more in­ter­est­ing than ear­lier Toy­ota-Lexus de­signs.

The large air scoops ahead of the rear wheels look ag­gres­sive but fea­ture no heat ex­chang­ers in­side, and they do not di­rect cool­ing air to­ward the rear brakes or the dif­fer­en­tial. They sim­ply re­duce aero­dy­namic tur­bu­lence in­side the wheel wells. The 45-de­gree slashes up the rear fas­cia seem a bit much for no pur­pose other than fram­ing the li­cense plate, and they clearly re­late to no other lines or forms on the body.

The mere fact the LC’s pro­por­tions are sat­is­fy­ing, and the dis­tri­bu­tion of its vol­umes and the over­all feel of the de­sign please so many, is not enough for iconic sta­tus. It does, how­ever, give us rea­son to hope for even bet­ter mod­els yet to come. This and big boss Akio Toy­oda’s com­mit­ment to bet­ter de­sign is highly pos­i­tive. — R.C. AM

If not for the Model 3’s ex­is­tence and a few crit­i­cal de­tails, the LC 500 could have been our choice for De­sign of the Year.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.