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New Japanese luxury coupes: Lexus LC & Infiniti Q60

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The two Japanese luxury brands Lexus and Infiniti stole the show at the North American International Auto Show with sexy production versions of their new luxury sports coupes, and both stunned the audience by looking surprisingly similar to their concept versions. That’s always a good thing, because concept cars are usually sexy, futuristic and out-of-this-world, but then often the resulting production version is no more than a watered down, compromised and ordinary rehash with all the things that made the concept so sexy removed. Ask Subaru, they know all about this strategy.

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None of that disappointment with these two, as both have a low, wide look and an aggressive appearance, the Lexus LC clearly even more so than the Infiniti Q60. Lexus has designed a wild looking, widebody coupe with angular lines, a mesh spindle grille, grey detailing around the triangular headlights, and droopy Prius-style rear lights. The Infiniti Q60 is less extreme, but not less sexy with its low grille and long, wide nose and a muscular shoulder line above the rear wheels, ending in a wide rear end.

Lexus never planned to turn the 2012 LF-LC concept into reality, but according to Toyota Motor Corp. CEO Akio Toyoda “extremely positive reactions from the press and from the public changed our mind”. And when they decided to turning the concept into a production version, their desire was to make it as close to the concept as possible, in which they’ve clearly succeeded. That’s why its such a disappointment to see there’s not very sophisticated technology hiding under the LC500’s futuristic skin. The LC500 is equipped with the 5,0 liter V8 engine from the RC500, which hasn’t exactly been praised by the press for its sporty characteristics or its technological progressiveness, despite the latter being one of the hallmarks of the Lexus brand.

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Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against a wild looking coupe with a 467hp naturally aspirated V8 engine and rear-wheel drive, but from Lexus I had expected some kind of electrification in the LC, at the very least an “ordinary” hybrid powertrain. Maybe they’re holding out for an LC600h, because Lexus aspires to make a hybrid version of each of its models, and such an extreme design promises extraordinary technology as well. But for an engine this big the V8 lacks a bit of low-end torque, with 530Nm (389lb-ft) at no less than 4.800 RPM, so the 10-speed automatic transmission better be calibrated to keep the engine revving. And let’s hope the use of carbon fiber makes the LC500 lighter and therefore more light-footed than the RC500, because that overweight fatso isn’t worthy of the label sports coupe in any way you try.

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These two coupes can’t really be compared directly, the Lexus will start just below US$ 100,000 meaning its average transaction price will easily run into the six figures, making it a competitor to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and a precursor to the upcoming LS limousine, while the Q60 slots two classes below as a rival to the BMW 4-series. It starts with a turbocharged 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine pumping out 208hp and 350Nm (258lb-ft) of torque at 1,500rpm which you may know from Mercedes-Benz and tops out with a twin-turbo 3,0 V6 engine delivering 400hp and 475Nm (350lb-ft) of torque at a range of 1.600 – 5.200rpm, entering BMW M4 territory. Both engines will be mated to a 7-speed automatic gearbox.

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Now if only Buick would be so brave to follow these two and turn the Avista concept into reality as well, I’d be regaining a bit of confidence in the automotive industry again.

More images of the Lexus LC and Infiniti Q60:

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