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Detroit 2019: Lexus LC chief designer on the LC Convertible concept

15 January 2019 | by Lem Bingley

We asked Lexus LC chief designer Tadao Mori if the LC Convertible concept revealed at the Detroit show was in reality a production car preview, and were not surprised to see him squirm a bit before confirming that he couldn’t possibly say. “It’s a one-off study into expanding our customer base,” he adds.

“We have had some success since we released the LC Coupé. Now we need to expand the LC world and one answer is to make this beautiful convertible.”

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One-off or otherwise, the conversion is neat and tidy and realistic. It looks ready to drive, though we didn’t see its fabric roof in action.

Mori said slicing off the roof was relatively straightforward in styling terms. “The LC coupé already disconnected the rear pillar from the body, so it was easy to do a convertible,” he explained. “But we see some differences because the coupé has a very short deck, but a convertible needs to have a nice trunk shape. So now we have a long hood and a longer trunk.”

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The Convertible concept’s white and black interior is very on-trend – we’ve lost count of the number of concepts we’ve seen fitted with white leather seats over the past 12 months. The front part of the cabin is unchanged compared with the fixed-roof LC, though the plus-two rear seating is compressed to create space for roof stowage.

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In roofless form the LC remains one of the most appealing Lexus shapes, with some welcome softness contrasting with the brand’s signature sharp-edged geometry. The car’s relatively modest spindle grille also manages not to look like the gaping maw of a basking shark. “It’s a luxury sports coupé so we need to show some elegance,” Mori observed. “But the spindle grille is not just a shape, it’s a continuity from the hood to the lower area.”

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In the future, Mori added, the Lexus form language will explore new extremes. “We are thinking to promote more contrasts,” he said. “Sharp areas should be sharper; soft areas should be softer. So it’s kind of bigger contrasts with nice combinations.”