The US market has favorably received the remarkable new 2006 Lexus IS 250 and IS 350 sport sedans. But Lexus’s expansion of the IS range is not over, inside sources say that next January at 2007 NAIAS Detroit show, Lexus will show a concept vehicle to preview a new IS retractable hard-top cabrio and the production version is supposed to be available starting from 2008.
Toyota has an extensive range of cars in Japan from ultra compact models to high-end luxury limousines. However, only recently has it presented the Lexus brand in the Japanese market, where the luxury cars were previously sold under the Toyota brand. As part of Lexus’ new introduction, the company will present an ample range of new models over the next few years to support the Lexus name both in Japan and abroad. The latest Lexus models point that the company’s traditional high luxury approach will also be directed towards high performance.
The 2007 IS concept-car is the successor of the LF-C prototype, designed in North America and showcased in 2004 at the New York Auto Show. The 2007 IS concept to be unveiled at Detroit is a production ready vehicle and it is rumored to become available in US showrooms starting from 2008.
Featuring a fully automatic power-operated hardtop, the new Lexus IS cabriole is expected to share the same engine with the highly anticipated IS 500. That will be a 5.0-liter V8, a detuned version of the 5.0L V8 currently in development for the LF-A supercar production version. As first information show, for the IS cabriolet the V8 ( code-named 2UR-FSE) engine will produce 420 bhp @ 5800 rpm and 405 lbs/ft of torque @ 3800 rpm from 5.0 liters of displacement. The new Lexus V8 will be a bored out version of the 4.6 L engine from the new Lexus LS 460 saloon. This is a slower engine than those used by the German competitors (the RS4’s cabrio reaches 8250 rpm and the M3’s is expected to rev up to 9000) as Lexus has no experience on the high-revving principle. In order to compensate for that the Lexus has a bigger displacement, 5.0 L against 4.2 L in the Audi and 4.0 L in the BMW.
The new engine will feature the usually Lexus “goodies”, such as the “drive-by-wire” ETCS-i, (Electronic Throttle Control System intelligent), which will control the throttle based not just on pedal position, but also on data from vehicle speed and engine rpm. This system will team up with the engine’s intelligent Variable Valve Timing (VVT-i), which will ensures unmatched tractability and smoothness by optimizing valve overlap throughout the engine’s speed range. As a result, more torque will be available across a broader engine speed range, making the vehicle more reactive under all driving conditions and providing the driver with confidence in effortless passing power.
We expect an extensive use of lead-free alloys in components such as valve-seats and connecting rods, which will contribute to preserving the environment. An enhanced cylinder head cooling will increase combustion efficiency and contribute to lower emissions.
Our artists have produced for you two renderings of the new IS convertible showing it both top up and top down. The general lines of the car will be more muscular in comparison with those of the IS sedans. The two-piece hardtop follows the model shown in the 2004 LF-C concept, and diagonally retracts the components into the rear console. Seat ing in the rear is expected to be a little tighter in comparison with the sedan. The luggage capacity will also be seriously diminished when the top is folded.
The first vehicle to show a glimpse of the future Lexus coupe cabriolet was the 2004 LF-C luxury sports coupe concept car presented at the New York International Auto Show. The LF series of prototypes were designed to define and launch an entirely new direction in styling for the Lexus brand, the so-called “L finesse”.
The styling of the concept vehicle was produced by the Calty Design Research Center, featuring a unique hardtop design that allows the car to transform itself at the touch of a button from a coupe to a convertible, to a targa or to a speedster, depending on the driver’s mood. The powered top diagonally stowed neatly into the trunk through an amazingly negligible rear-deck opening.
The vehicle’s large rear wheel drive platform utilized a high-output, front-mounted V8 engine, mated with a six-speed sequential automatic transmission. With a wheelbase expanded with 5 inches, the LF-C was only slightly longer overall than the current IS. Appreciably, the LF-C sat about 2 inches lower and was 5 inches wider than the current IS. The wide stance and small overhangs stroke an aggressive pose with generous dimensions that accommodated four adult passengers.
"We used a combination of convex and concave surfaces to control the balance of light and shadow on the car which creates this beautiful contrast of having sharp lines within the sculpted exterior surfaces," said Kevin Hunter, vice president of Calty Design Research, Inc. "The idea was to create a sense of strength and softness at the same time, adding an air of mystery." Calty used long, integrated lines to simplify the overall form of the LF-C. The individual roof rail tapered as it moved forward from the rear, mimicking the sculpted theme of the main body. The tremendous tapering of the main body shaped from front to rear, which was then wrapped and interlocked by the rear fenders, was designed to show strength and power from every angle. The interior communicated performance with drive-by-wire steering and Formula One inspired shifter and steering wheel with the gauges stacked along the steering column axis, ascending toward the base of the windshield. The gauges were transparent, with needles moving from the ring, rather than the center.
The dynamic and flowing center console, in a solid tapered form, ran the length of the interior. Displays and controls were hidden beneath this transparent console surface that was multi-layered, which created a sophisticated, high-tech look and feel. The console was flanked on each side by arched, wing-like instrument panels situated low in front of the driver and passenger to create a feeling of openness.
Four lightweight individual bucket seats used slender shapes inspired by modern stemware to produce a contrast of sport and elegance. The effect provided roominess along with a snug and secure feeling.
Specs for the Lexus LF-C
Wheelbase: 109.8 inches
Length: 178.3 inches
Width: 72.8 inches
Height: 53.1 inches
Engine: High-Output Double Overhead Cam V8
Transmission: 6-Speed Sequential A/T
Layout: Front engine, rear drive
Tire Front: 245/35 ZR20
Wheel Size Front: 20 x 9 in.
Rear: 21 x 10.5 in.
The first BMW CC will share most of the design elements with its coupe brother. The sideline will be a bit different, due to the three components retractable hardtop. For the same reasons the rear window will also be less skewed and closer to the vertical. The wheelbase will be the same as in the coupe, and therefore it will offer enough room for four persons.
The technical platform and the engine range will also be borrowed from the coupe. A new addition will be the 183-cui direct petrol injection engine, which will provide 272 bhp and is also praised to be economical. The new unit will feature braking energy recovery, a start/stop system and electrical power steering, all of this helping reduce fuel consumption. These new systems will also be featured on the rest of the engine range. The top model will be the 335i, with 306 bhp. The base will equip a 152 cui 218 bhp unit.
Scheduled for launch in October, the new BMW 3 Series CC will be available in show rooms starting from March 2007. In late 2008, a convertible M3 is also scheduled.