The design team that created the new Lexus LC Convertible was given a mission to create the world’s most beautiful open-top car. But while the brief was straightforward to understand, making it actually happen presented a considerable challenge.
Here are the challenges that the development team overcame in order to deliver on their brief.
Challenge: creating a coupe silhouette
A key element in achieving the design goal concerned the line of the roof. Chief designer Tadao Mori explains: “Although there are many convertible models out there, few of them are stylish and elegant both when the roof is open and closed. Particularly when the roof is raised, ridge lines in the uneven surface tend to give an unrefined impression. That’s why, for the LC Convertible’s design, we put maximum effort into realising the same beautiful roof line as the coupe.”
To produce the desired silhouette, the point where the soft top meets the rear quarter panels was moved as far towards the rear of the car as possible to create a fastback look when the roof is raised. Particular attention was paid to the tensioning of the soft top to ensure a smooth surface, and that the frame and other elements are perfectly concealed so the roof has a clean and elegant tapered form.
When viewed from the rear, the line of the soft top emphasises the compact proportions of the cabin, contrasting with the flared, dynamic look of the body panels. In that regard, a common feature of many convertible designs is that the shape can appear overly stretched out from the tonneau cover to the boot lid, particularly when the roof is down.
This has been avoided on the LC by profiling the rear end so that it rises in a duck tail, producing a distinctive silhouette that is sleek and dynamic. The beltline also kicks up behind the doors to give the look of the body wrapping around the cabin, creating an overall tight and clean profile.
One of the principal challenges was to minimise bulkiness in the bodywork in the shoulder area immediately behind the rear seats. The design team was able to accommodate the folding roof in an extremely compact space by creating an extra fold in the soft top so that it can be stowed in the space between the left and right-hand rear suspension towers. This also allowed for a distinctive character line to be created, running from the front to the rear of the car.
Challenge: the perfect tonneau cover
The designers took advantage of the LC’s platform specifications and the soft top’s folding mechanism to set the tonneau cover as low as possible. They also avoided the familiar flat, platform look seen on many other convertibles by adding fairing-shaped accents that echo the curves of the rear headrests.
To produce this line and achieve a high-quality finish, Lexus adopted an incremental forming process in addition to the conventional press used to mould the aluminium tonneau cover.
Challenge: continuity between exterior and interior
The cabin of an open-top car is more open to view and therefore more closely connected to the vehicle’s overall design. Lexus sought to perfect the sense of continuity between the exterior and interior of the LC Convertible by using innovative colour co-ordination, enhancing the model’s special character and brave design.
Three soft top colours are available: Sand, Black and Marine, the latter two suitable for coordinating with any of the bodywork paint options. With these choices and further options for interior colours, owners have the freedom to specify a car that captures their personal style.
Colour coordination between the A-pillar interior trim with the colour of the roof lining is another luxurious design feature that applies throughout the LC range. The effect is all the more eye-catching in the LC Convertible, as the pillars are in clear view whenever the roof is lowered.
Special attention was also paid to the detailing on the seat upholstery. A unique quilting pattern is applied to the shoulder section of the front seats, which adds both elegance and tactile quality. Perforations with three different hole diameters are arranged in a graduated pattern that adds an extra perception of depth.
Lexus LC Convertible: special launch model
The new Lexus LC Convertible will be launched later in 2020 as a Special Edition model. This will match Structural Blue bodywork with a white and blue interior and Marine soft top – a combination inspired by the colours found at a luxury marina.
White is used extensively in the cabin, including our first all-white steering wheel and carpeting. The door trim is finished in a contrasting blue synthetic leather that features a unique grain pattern that gives a three-dimensional effect with texture and shading.
Learn more: History of Lexus convertibles