With the recent additions of the NX crossover and sporty RC coupe, the only real need left in the Lexus lineup is for a premium subcompact. Thanks to the funky and diminutive Lexus LF-SA Concept, it looks like Lexus is finally getting ready to do something about that. Unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, the LF-SA is a styling exercise imagined by the automaker’s European design team focus that was tasked with creating an “ultra-compact, sub-B-segment, urban 2+2.”

The interesting part of the LF-SA is that its styling combines elements of both a hatchback and a crossover, which means that Lexus could go in either direction with a production design going after either crossover-ish rivals like the Mercedes GLA-Class and Buick Encore or more of a hatchback variant like the BMW 1 Series. Either way, Lexus has a good record of turning concept vehicles into production vehicles lately, so there’s a good chance that another new Lexus product is on the way.

Continue reading to learn more about the Lexus LF-SA Concept.


The theme for the Lexus LF-SA was “bold and emotional,” but it comes off looking more like a combination between a Smart Fortwo and the recently launched NX. While it is definitely an odd little vehicle, it’s also very attention-grabbing. Front and center on the LF-SA is a unique application of Lexus’ spindle grille with an eye-catching, three-dimensional look, which is flanked by massive air inlets and small LED headlights with the now-signature checkmark daytime running lights. Every inch of this concept is covered with strong creases that only help to magnify the car’s small stature.

In terms of its size (based off the limited dimensions Lexus provided), the LF-SA is positioned directly between two of Toyota’s smallest offerings being about 15 inches longer than the Scion iQ and 20 inches shorter than the Toyota Yaris. It is also only .8 inches wider than the iQ city car and it sits three inches lower than both the iQ and Yaris. With these dimensions, there’s no doubt Lexus is going after the subcompact luxury market.

Exterior Dimensions

Length 135.8 Inches
Width 66.9 Inches
Height 56.3 Inches


Based on the single interior image that Lexus released for the LF-SA Concept, the cabin is equally as “bold and emotional” as the exterior. The central portion of the steering wheel forms a similar shape as the spindle grille, but the most interesting part of the interior is that the driver’s seat is fixed into position with the steering wheel and foot pedals being adjustable to fit, which could be an innovative way to maximize space for the pair of rear occupants.


If this is indeed a hatchback, Lexus could go the extra mile and make it a hot-hatch of sorts. With this in mind, I would expect to see the LF-SA inherit the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder from the NX 200t. This would inject a healthy 235 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.

On the flipside of the coin, this could preview a sub-CT200h model that is based on the 2015 Toyota Yaris. In that case, expect far less power, likely something closer to the small Toyota’s 106 horsepower. While that would be a complete buzzkill, it wouldn’t shock me.


2015 Audi A1

2015 Audi A1 High Resolution Exterior
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If this is a Yaris-based luxury hatchback, then one of its main competitors would be the Europe-only Audi A1. This pint-sized German comes in a pair of sizes: three- and five-door (Sportback), and in either the standard A1 model or the more exciting S1 model.

The A1 starts out at just £14,315 (around $22,000) in its base format and tops out at £26,110 (pushing $40,000) for the S1 Sportback version.

The A1 rolls in carrying a standard 1.0-liter TFSI three-cylinder that develops 95 PS. This engine mates to either a five-speed manual or a seven-speed S tronic, and gets the tiny hatch to 100 km/h in 10.9 seconds (11.1 w/ Sportback). The optional 1.4-liter TFSI engine delivers between 123 horsepower and 148 horsepower depending on the trim, and gets the A1 to 100 km/h in 7.8 to 8.8 seconds (7.9 to 8.9 seconds w/ Sportback). The 1.4-liter mates to either a six-speed manual or the seven-speed S tronic transmission. The A1’s 1.6-liter TDI engine delivers 124 horsepower, and gets the hatch to 100 km/h in 9.4 seconds (9.5 seconds with the standard six-speed manual or 9.4 seconds with the optional S tronic in the Sportback).

The S1 is a far different animal, as its 2.0-liter turbocharged engine puts out 228 horsepower and mates to a six-speed manual gearbox. This gets the standard S1 to 100 km/h in just 5.8 seconds, while the Sportback model takes 5.9 seconds.

BMW 1 Series Hatchback

2016 - 2018 BMW 1 Series High Resolution Exterior
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The Bimmer 1 Series Hatch is another Euro-only model that may be directly in the wheelhouse of this concept from Lexus.

Like the Audi, the 1 Series has a pile of engine options, with its gasoline range starting with the 114i ES carrying a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 100 horsepower and drags the hatch to 134 horsepower in 11.4 seconds. The 116i features a 1.6-liter, TwinPower Turbo engine that puts out 134 horsepower and gets the hatch to 100 km/h in 8.5 seconds. The 118i reaches 168 horsepower with its version of the 1.6-liter TwinPower Turbo engine, and crosses the 100 km/h mark in 7.4 seconds. The 125i M Sport milks 215 horsepower from a 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo engine and sprints to 100 km/h in just 6.4 seconds. Finally, the range-topping M 135i carries a 3.0-liter engine that puts out 315 horsepower and gets the car to 100 km/h in 5.1 seconds.

On the diesel side of things, the 1 Series Hatch starts out with the 116d, which features a 2.0-liter engine that delivers 114 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque to help get to 100 km/h in 10.3 seconds. The 118d gets a version of the 2.0-liter diesel engine rated at 141 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque that sprints the hatch to 100 km/h in 8.9 seconds. The 125d pushes the 2.0-liter diesel to 181 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, which drops the sprint time to 7.2 seconds. Finally, the 125d M Sport squeezes 215 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque from the 2.0-liter diesel, netting the hatchback a sprint time of 6.5 seconds.

The 1 Series Hatch starts out at £16,995 (about $26,000) in its base ES trim and peaks at £29,580 (around $45,000) for the M135i model.


Lexus seems poised to finally enter the market of subcompact premium vehicles, and while it would be hard to imagine doing so with a Predator-looking three-door hatchback like the LF-SA, this is undoubtedly a statement vehicle to other automakers in this segment. The designs that eventually became the NX and RC models received a slight water-down from concept to production, so it will be interesting where Lexus heads with the design of the LF-SA.

  • Leave it
    • Looks like Predator...
    • Could be little more than a spruced-up Yaris
    • Very competitive segment in Europe
Justin Cupler
Justin Cupler
About the author

Press Release

The new Lexus LF-SA concept makes its world debut at the 2015 Geneva Motorshow.

2015 Lexus LF-SA Concept High Resolution Exterior
- image 620017

Last year marked the 25th anniversary of the very first Lexus, the LS 400 flagship sedan. To celebrate this milestone, Lexus challenged ED2 -the company’s Europe-based design studio to create a concept of an ultra-compact, sub-B-segment, urban 2+2.

An illustration of Lexus’ passion for upcoming design trends, the LF-SA explores unexpected territories for the brand in a bold and emotional execution.

In a future world which many people see as increasingly influenced by technology and virtual experiences, the LF-SA concept is also a driver-focused vehicle, reflecting Lexus’ vision that the real driving experience will remain the ultimate luxury.

From that insight, the LF-SA combines an audacious interpretation of the brand’s design philosophy, never losing sight of the driving pleasure that will always define Lexus.

Reflecting the spirit of weekend adventure in everyday city driving, the LF-SA concept explores a future in which Lexus drivers will still be able to enjoy the real life luxury of driving themselves, still enjoying the ultimate in on-board connectivity and safety.

2015 Lexus LF-SA Concept High Resolution Exterior
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This spirit of adventure is even reflected in the concept’s color scheme; the Stellar silver exterior finish a reference to space exploration, the interior inspired by the spectacle of a solar eclipse.

Exterior Design
The Lexus designers managed to make the new Lexus LF-SA concept 135.8 inches long, 66.9 inches wide and 56.3 inches high, its compact packaging pointing to the maneuverability and agility essential to a true city car. Its styling is rugged and confident.

The LF-SA’s highly-sculpted surfacing reflects a more challenging and avant garde, “Time in Design” styling approach in which perceptions of the vehicle change when viewed from different angles.

Its angular pattern radiating from the central Lexus logo, this latest expression of the spindle-shaped grille develops from a two dimensional graphic to a powerful, three dimensional form, strongly influencing the front fenders and side bodywork and reinforcing the concept’s wide, firmly planted stance.

The contrast between concave and convex bodywork surfaces is emphasised by powerful undercutting above the wheel arches, most notably to the rear, bringing a unique proportion to the design and giving it a strong sense of dynamism and forward motion.

The spindle grille shape is clearly referenced in the angular, double-stepped rear styling, which incorporates L-shaped lamp clusters in a flying-buttress design. Further Lexus trademark signatures such as the arrowhead motif are evident throughout, e.g. in the design of the daytime running lights.

Interior Design
Despite its highly-compact exterior dimensions, the LF-SA concept boasts a surprisingly spacious interior. Key to this feeling of spaciousness is the designers’ “manipulation of lightness,” evident, for instance, in the sweeping dashboard design which reinforces the width of the cabin.

2015 Lexus LF-SA Concept High Resolution Exterior
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With sole occupancy typical in city vehicles most of the time, the 2+2 cabin layout gives clear priority to the driver. The driver’s seat is fixed, and the steering wheel and pedals are adjustable, bringing the vehicle to the driver, rather than vice versa.

The sliding front passenger seat, on the other hand, gives access to rear accommodation. This duality of function which awards precedence to the driver is reinforced by an interior design which uses space, materials and volume to create two clearly-discernible, overlapping elliptical areas within the cabin.

The information system includes a hologram-style digital display incorporated in the instrument panel and a wide-angle Head-Up-Display.

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Press release

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