LEXUS is preparing the ground for a convertible model to return to its growing ranks, filling a rift in its line-up that opened up when the SC hard-top convertible was put out to pasture eight years ago.
The move to reintroduce an open-top car to the Japanese luxury line-up would be in line with the company’s increasing focus on a younger audience while maintaining its existing customer attention, following the recent introduction of the RC coupe and LC large sports coupe flagship.
Exactly what form the new drop-top will take will have to wait but, speaking to Wheels at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Lexus president Yoshihiro Sawa explained that he would have liked to offer a convertible model earlier, but limited development resources had pushed plans back.
“Personally, I did want a convertible but we are a small company so we cannot develop at the same time, but we are studying internally so please expect,” he said.
With the LC and RC sports coupe cousins now firmly nestled in the Lexus range, the company is more likely to have the flexibility to turn its attention to a new topless model, but quite when that mysterious car will arrive is yet to be confirmed.
Where the car will be positioned in the range is also still anyone’s guess, though a chopped version of an existing coupe is almost certain. Calty design research studio president Kevin Hunter threw some light on what the new model might look like.
“The one thing that comes to mind for me is LC”, he said. “LC would make a beautiful roadster. The way the body architecture is set up and the way the belt line is, it’s just a natural for a roadster. I think that would be wonderful and really beautiful.”
Lexus founded its reputation for luxury cars with a range of comfortable sedans, but the company has been increasingly looking to broaden its repertoire into sportier vehicles that will appeal to a wider range of potential customers, including driving enthusiasts.
Hunter agreed that a convertible in its ranks would serve as a useful brand booster and as a more exclusive offering that not every brand can brag.
“I don’t think in a premium segment it hurts to have something (convertible). Yeah, why not? Open tops are an exclusive part of an automobile and not everyone has them. It would be nice to have one in a premium brand.”
Before it was dropped in 2010, the SC offered hard-top coupe motoring when the weather was foul and open top fun for four when the weather permitted but a successor is likely to return with significant weight and performance advantages over the first Lexus convertible, which fell firmly into the GT cruiser category.