By Colin Bird on April 11, 2011
The LF-Gh Hybrid concept may point toward a more promising future for Lexus’ slow-selling GS midsize sports sedan, and it should help the company in a segment it hasn't fared well in over the past few years.
The LF-Gh stays pretty much true to form and function as the 2011 GS 450h. What doesn’t stay the same is the styling. Gone are the somewhat frumpy looks of the GS, replaced with creases and curves that exude poise and aggression. Lexus seems to have focused most of its attention on the front end: The concept features a new grille and headlamp designs that Lexus’ whole lineup will end up wearing over time, the automaker says.
The top grille combines, uniformly, with the lower air dam in a similar fashion as some newer Audi models. The grille is shaped by a repeating “spindle” design that resembles sports fabric rather than metal from afar. The wide front fenders have receded air inlets up front and vertical LED fog lamps. The rear features similar air inlets, formed underneath the ends of each rear taillamp. It’s hard to tell, but the taillamps are one wrap-around unit connected by a thin strip underneath the rear deck lid.
Overall, the side silhouette is fairly uneventful — you’d have difficulty distinguishing it from the Infiniti M. The door handles and side mirrors have been “minimized,” Lexus, says, and we don’t believe either adaptation will make it to a production vehicle.
While there are only a few discrete photos of the interior, from what we can surmise the inside is near production ready. The dash and door inlays are adorned with cut-and-sewn leather. There’s a new analog clock with a “three-dimensional” face, according to Lexus. A depression near the driver’s center cluster likely houses the navigation system, similar to the design in the current RX.
The dimensions given for the concept and its rear-wheel-drive layout make us believe it’s the next-generation Lexus GS, though it could replace the GS and the ES in a bid by Lexus to be taken more seriously as a performance luxury division. The luxury make didn’t reveal any specs about the hybrid powertrain but says it’s a “Lexus Hybrid Drive.” Every Lexus hybrid currently features a different powertrain and power rating, so it’s hard to speculate on what hybrid system a production LF-Gh would get if not something entirely new.
We’ll have more comments and photos once the 2011 New York International Auto Show gets under way this month.