Lexus LF-Ch Compact Hybrid To Be At 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show

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The Lexus LF-Ch Compact Hybrid is an odd little car. Or, to be more exact, it’s odd that Toyota would badge a car like this as a Lexus. The hybrid part makes sense, but making a small hatchback as a Lexus, even if Toyota is calling it a “Premium Compact”, seems to run counter to what Lexus has been marketed as up to this point. The fact that Toyota will be showing the Lexus LF-Ch Compact Hybrid at the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show this coming December points out that the company is pretty seriously considering offering the car in North America.

A Lexus LF-Ch Premium Compact Hybrid … will Americans go for that?

\”Lexus has been leading the luxury hybrid market ever since we came out with the RX 400h in 2005. To continue raising the hybrid benchmark, we need to continue exploring hybrid technology in different segments. The LF-Ch concept gives us the opportunity to gauge consumer reaction and help us determine whether or not this would be viable for production,\” said Mark Templin, Lexus division group vice president and general manager.

OK, hard to argue with that, and there might be a niche to be exploited here. Lexus hasn’t offered up any info on the mechanicals of the LF-Ch, preferring to delve deeper into styling details and interior features ahead of the LA show.

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Designed by Toyota\’s North American-based research and design center, Calty Design Research Inc., the LF-Ch is trying to study the needs of young urbanites and consumer values in a compact luxury vehicle. \”The LF-Ch concept is the next evolution of the compact luxury vehicle. We were able to create a beautifully designed hybrid with a deep sense of mystery and intrigue,\” said Kevin Hunter, president of Calty.

On the outside, Calty was going for strong and simple lines. They kept the stance wide and the shoulders high and even though it’s a five door, they wanted to make it coupe-like by blacking out the B-pillar and concealing the rear door’s entry button in the chrome molding.

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Up front there’s an assertive grille and a wide front bumper and air dam to give the hybrid concept a more powerful look. There’s also the now common practice of LED taillights and headlamps and they let you and everyone else know that it’s a hybrid with hybrid side badging and a blue Lexus logo.

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On the inside there’s metal and leather trim, an asymmetric dashboard as well as leather, and metal detailing on the door panels, instrument panel and seats. A wide grip steering wheel with integrated paddle shifters aims to keep things sporty as does the instrument panel that features large twin dials with a uniquely embellished turbine blade design. There’s also a blue headliner light bordering the roof.

The LF-Ch also has Lexus\’ Remote Touch controller with user-adjustable haptic feedback that allows the driver or front passenger to operate the navigation, audio and climate systems. This system is also currently found on the 2010 HS 250h hybrid and RX luxury utility vehicles,

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Now, there’s no reason to think that this is a bad move on the part of the Lexus brand. If you’re firmly planted in only one market segment, you rise and fall with the fortunes of that segment. So diversifying is usually a good strategy overall. And there just might be a market for this sort of car. Being small and a hybrid might have a certain appeal to the affluent and green conscious urban dwellers. It will be interesting to see if they can pull this off.

Here’s the company’s press release:

Lexus LF-Ch Premium Compact Hybrid Concept to Make North American Debut at 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show
Lexus LF-Ch 001
– Visually Striking Compact Hybrid with Dynamic Design Philosophy
– Dramatic and Modern Interior Complements Hybrid Drivetrain
– Driving Enjoyment Paired with a Sustainable Focus

TORRANCE, Calif. (Sept. 9, 2009) – Lexus today announced the LF-Ch compact hybrid concept, which will have its world premiere on September 15, 2009 at the Frankfurt Auto Show, will be on display for the first time in North America at the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show in December.

As the latest concept hybrid vehicle from Lexus, LF-Ch offers dramatic style, premium features, low emissions, impressive fuel economy and the performance expected of a sporty yet versatile five-door package.

\”Lexus has been leading the luxury hybrid market ever since we came out with the RX 400h in 2005,\” said Mark Templin, Lexus division group vice president and general manager. \”To continue raising the hybrid benchmark, we need to continue exploring hybrid technology in different segments. The LF-Ch concept gives us the opportunity to gauge consumer reaction and help us determine whether or not this would be viable for production.\”

The LF-Ch concept was designed by Calty Design Research Inc., Toyota\’s North American-based research and design center located in Newport Beach, Calif., and will allow the brand to study the needs of young urbanites and consumer values in a compact luxury vehicle.

\”The LF-Ch concept is the next evolution of the compact luxury vehicle,\” said Kevin Hunter, president of Calty. \”We were able to create a beautifully designed hybrid with a deep sense of mystery and intrigue.\”

Designers created an intriguing contrast between the powerful, machine-like surfaces, fluid forms and details that appear hand-sculpted.

The exterior of the LF-Ch concept exudes strength and simplicity with a wide stance, broad and high-shoulders, an arching roofline that flows into the rear spoiler, and sheer surfaces wrapped in a contemporary yellow paint. To give the sporty five-door concept the illusion of a sleek coupe, designers cleverly blackened the B-pillar and hid the rear door entry button in the chrome molding.

An aggressive grille with a wide front bumper and air dam gives the hybrid concept a powerful personality in keeping with its dynamic lines. Efficient and bright LED taillights and headlamps also add to the vehicle\’s personality. The concept is marked with hybrid details including its blue Lexus logo, which is shared across the Lexus family of hybrids, and hybrid side badging.

Inside, designers created an elegant cabin that is contemporary, and functional with metal and leather trim. Metal surfacing stretches the length of the asymmetric dashboard and blends with leather trim to provide a luxuriously handcrafted and soothing environment. The artistic leather, and metal detailing is also visible on the door panels, instrument panel and seats.

A blue headliner light, that borders the roof and contrasts with the yellow exterior, turns on to reveal an ambient pattern reminiscent of a sophisticated lounge. A wide grip steering wheel with integrated paddle shifters makes for a spirited driving experience. The instrument panel features two, large twin dials with a uniquely embellished turbine blade design.

Lexus\’ Remote Touch controller with user-adjustable haptic feedback, also currently found on the 2010 HS 250h hybrid and RX luxury utility vehicles, allows the driver or front passenger to operate the navigation, audio and climate systems.

The LF-Ch has four sport seats that feature trim lighting along the cushion\’s edge for cabin illumination. Rear passengers can enjoy headrest-mounted iPhone® docking capability for audio and video entertainment. In addition, the LF-Ch has storage in the rear seat armrests for small items such as iPods®, PDAs and cell phones.

\”We look forward to hearing feedback on the LF-Ch,\” said Templin. \”We hope consumers like what they see so we can change the luxury hybrid marketplace again.\”

About The Author

Tony Borroz grew up in a sportscar oriented family, but sadly, it was British cars. His knuckles still show the marks of slipped Whitworth sockets, strains to reach upper rear shock bushings on Triumphs, and slight burn marks from dealing with Lucas Electric "systems." He has written for a variety of car magazines and websites, Automoblog chief among them. Tony has worked on popular driving games as a content expert, in addition to working for aerospace companies, software giants, and as a movie stuntman. He currently lives in a secure, undisclosed location in the American southwestern desert.

2 Comments on "Lexus LF-Ch Compact Hybrid To Be At 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show"

  1. James Gaunt

    I hope that this gets released as near as possible to how it is now, the mirrors will have to be larger for the european market, i would settle for the prius engine and drivetrain.

  2. Automobile Transport

    Seems like a cool car, but I agree that it is a little bit of a weird move from Lexus. When you think of Lexus, you tend to think of larger sedans, rather than sportier smaller cars.

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