By on April 12, 2011

Lexus’s GS-series of sports sedans has been a perennial sales dog for years now, winning Toyota’s luxury brand few converts from its 5-Series, E-Class and A6 competition. In fact, it’s a testament to Lexus’s successes in building unconventional luxury niches with the RX and ES lines that it’s been able to become a major US market luxury brand without a popular full-sized luxury sedan. But with luxury sales competition heating up under pressure from BMW and Audi, it’s clear that Lexus isn’t willing to let the GS’s underachievement continue unaddressed.

With the LF-Gh concept, set to debut at the New York Auto Show, Lexus using its next-generation GS to show off its newly-aggressive evolution of the L-Finesse design language. But will expressive creases and Audi-esque headlight bling be enough to make the GS mare than a forgotten also-ran, or is the Gh’s hybrid drivetrain a hint that Lexus is moving towards a hybrid-only approach to stealing E-Class sales? Or will the German’s strongest segment continue to be the Waterloo of the Japanese luxury brands (See: Inifiniti M)? After seeing the teasers, we were tempted to give Lexus credit for gambling on a less-conventional design, but now that the whole design has been revealed, it’s clear that the changes aren’t as comprehensive as the detail shots suggested. Is that another missed opportunity we’re smelling?

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64 Comments on “The New Language Of Lexus Design...”

  • avatar

    Ummm, wow.

  • avatar

    IMO, the failure of the current GS is due to its size. It’s not nearly “full-sized”, especially in width. Since it’s RWD, it probably has less interior space than the ES.

    For me, the GS is right on in terms of size. But as we all know, Americans tend to like something larger to haul their fat asses. So, advice to Lexus: just make it more bloated and you will enjoy better sales.

  • avatar

    After all these years Lexus is still ripping off the Germans. It looks like the took the front end of A8 below and gave it such a a pinch.

    • 0 avatar

      “After all these years Lexus is still ripping off the Germans. ”

      My exact first thought upon seeing this car.

    • 0 avatar

      Yep, thanks to recent Audi A8 review, the similarity between the Lexus and the A8 struck me as well.  That said, since I do like the big mouth grill on the A8, I don’t think the new Lexus design looks all that bad.  IMHO it’s very edgy and, at the very least, will get noticed on the road.

      I think the biggest problem with Lexus’ big grill is the same one it will share with the A8.  In California, front license plates are legally required.  Neither the Lexus or the A8 will look nearly as good will a goofy looking license plate smack in the middle of the grill.

    • 0 avatar

      After E-class shamelessly copied GS headlights, a little pay back is deserved.

  • avatar

    Now that the full concept has been revealed, color me thoroughly unimpressed. They still haven’t fully jettisoned the original 1991 Giorgetto Giugiaro GS design (which I’ve always loved, and which has yet to be improved on in later generations). As for the pinched grille, the first two words that come to mind are “tacked-on” and “hideous”. I kinda understand the reasoning: Audi has the large trapezoid; Benz the egg crate; BMW the twin kidneys; Lexus grilles have always been all over the place and this is their effort to make their own distinctive “Lexus grille”. But this, IMO, is worse than Acura’s Power Plenum fiasco. It’s just plain unattractive. It doesn’t work. GS sales should stay firmly where they are, which is nowhere.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t know why Lexus designers think the “pinched” grill looks good’ it’s been done on a smaller scale on some of their other models and it still looks awful.

      One of the Holden-based GM models also had an oversized, pinched grill and that looked bad, tho not as awful as this.

    • 0 avatar

      Hey, that was offensive. The power plenum is still uglier.

  • avatar

    So possible influences…

    Darth Vaders helmet?

    A medieval Samuari warrior helmet?

    The alien in the movie Predator?

    The rest remains really conservative. I’ll give them this, they have created something different in a world where pedestrian impact safety laws have made the front clips of cars bland bland bland.

  • avatar

    I like GS in abstract and I circled around it seriously, but the problem is the price. There is not much in it that IS does not have, but it’s 40% more expensive. So I ended with IS, in fact took 2.4 v6 version. That thing revs like butter, and only costs 33K or so loaded.

    • 0 avatar

      The GS has a backseat too small for the class and so does the IS.  I think the general lines on the IS look better, the back is less bulbous than the GS.  I looked at a GS and IS and ended up with a 328.  The GS was just what I needed, a little sport and a great highway cruiser, but the price just wasn’t right.  I could get the same functionality in a loaded Maxima.
      This one is interesting, but I agree that they need to pick a grill and stick with it.  The LS has a good front end and great rear end.

  • avatar

    Lexus will continue to underachieve. They have tiny sales in Europe – 17K units across the whole of Europe! In the UK Lexus have turned to being a hybrid only company since they didn`t have a decent diesel which is necessary to compete. I don`t see the new GS fighting off 3 competent German sedans, let alone the Japanese competition.

  • avatar

    The profile is nice.

    That face will never make production.

  • avatar

    By your command.

    Put a scanning red light in there and you have a Cylon Centurion.  If they wanted Cylong styling, they should’ve made it look like Tricia Helfer (number 6) :)

    Really though, I think it’s an improvement.  It’s not the same old novicane as the past.  Lexus was getting geriatric, and they don’t want to repeat Cadillac’s mistakes.

    Still, the flanks and doors of this car are a bit boring.

  • avatar

    Grille looks like an electric shaver.  Does that mean it helps to park in those close spots?
    Seriously, though, the front end looks horrible.

  • avatar

    It looks like it has a soul-patch.

  • avatar

    Looks like an Opel Ampera mated with a Nissan GTR with some Audi headlights.  The rear looks like the fraternal twin of the Kia Optima.

    There are some nice lines, but the front will have to go.  While not quite as bad as Acura’s beaks, it is up there.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Ja wohl, mein Fuhrer!

    Seriously, what’s up with the Hitler ‘stache face? Car’s not even German?!

  • avatar

    I like it in a general sort of way, (I like the volvo-ish “shoulders” especially) but if someone told me this was a new concept for Scion, i would find that totally believable.

  • avatar
    John R

    I won’t fault them for trying something anything, so I don’t mind the front. The more I look at it, the more I tolerate it. I’d tolerate it more if I knew there was something akin to an M56S motor behind it. Yet, it’s like they ran out of breath by the time they got to the rear.

  • avatar

    I don’t see the difference between this and the design language for every Japanese make, but what’s the story with Japanese designs getting angrier and angrier?

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      They wore out the market’s tolerance of “big googly eye” design?
      I was getting pretty tired of cars whose headlights wrapped three quarters of the way to the driver’s door and had more glass on top than in front. Not that I find THIS weird thing remotely attractive. But at least it isn’t Another Honda Analogue.

      • 0 avatar

        Eh, point taken on the googly eye (but I rather like the late nineties googley eyes)
        But I respectfully disagree regarding the Honda Analogue. That’s a company that hasn’t made a graceful curve or right-angle in the past decade. For example, you could graft an Acura beak over that ‘L’ pictured above and it would look at home.

  • avatar

    We should have seen this coming, given what the LF-A looks like.

    Now, that said, I liked the way Lexus used to style products—eg, they’d style for the market segment, rather than one-sausage-different-lengths—but clearly the brand identity is more important in this space.

  • avatar

    Less distinctive than the current model, IMHO. There is too much 5 series in the rear end, and there is absolutely nothing unique in the profile. 

    The current GS’s lines have aged remarkably well – boring to some, maybe, but timeless the way Audi’s styling used to be. What I find most irritating about the LF-Gh is the lack of coherence between the Darth Vader front and the rather conservative (and, to my mind, WAY too generic) profile.

    And if the dashboard shots are any indication of things to come, quality aficionados beware: even with the (faux?) stitching, the IP and door panel look boring, plasticky, and unforgivably cheap next to the beautifully crafted dash of the current GS, which in my opinion is one of the most gorgeous interiors I’ve seen. (The CT interior, while admittedly at a very different price point, was the first step in this entirely misguided direction – hideous, cheap-arse plastics all over the shop.) I shudder to think what the production version will look like.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with your analysis of the current GS. Of course I drive one, so I’m hardly impartial. But you’re right, the styling will still look good 10 or 15 years from now. It is fashionable to dismiss the current GS as too boring, generic, soft, whatever. It’s only real sin is that it’s not a 5-series.

    • 0 avatar

      Agree on the GS’s styling.  Classic look.  It is just a tad too small.  In the market for a new car and hoped Lexus would fix the problem with the next generation.  How disappointing this Darth Vader mobile is.  Cannot believe anyone would think that front would generate anything more than de minimis sales.

  • avatar

    Not so impressed.  Aesthetically, IMHO, a step backward versus the current GS.  It’s as though they’ve tried to make it fit one designer’s view of “contemporary”/”edgy” at all cost.

    Front clip: Darth Vader-inspired.  Probably trying to out-aggress Acura’s beakiness.

    Profile: What’s that train wreck that is the trailing edge of the rear doors?  Please give up any attempt at imitating the Hofmeister kink because you’ve failed.

    Rear: They’ve taken the first Bangled 5ers and 7ers to another extreme. 

    Interior: the contrasting stitching is just there to distract your eye from the horrid merge of line to curve that that big plastic piece fills.  The door handle/lock mechanism looks decidedly metallized plastic to me.  Why be faux, just be honest.

    • 0 avatar

      People don’t give the current GS design nearly enough credit for being simply the best looking sedan in the mid-size sport/luxury class. I picked it over the Infinity M, BMW 5 series, Audi A6, Acura RL etc. This was 3 years ago, mind you, so we’re talking about the prior generation of all those cars. I do think the new 5 is very nicely resolved.

  • avatar

    Not impressed.
    They’re trying too hard to get a distinctive grill in the same Audi-esque way. Hopefully they’ve toned it down for production. The roofline’s hardly changed, the rear is derivative. There’s aggressiveness in the stance but I think they could’ve gone just a bit farther on a whole. The aggressive front end doesn’t match the blandness of the profile.

  • avatar

    Ed, can you take the new lexus off the front page? It’s scaring me.

  • avatar

    This has to be one of the saddest designs I’ve seen in a while. Sure, the front end is, um, distinctive but the rest of it could be part of the new Mediocrity luxury line. What a bland, unadventurous design. From 1990 to 2000, Lexus was a style leader. Now it cribs from Mitsubishi and Subaru. Sad.

  • avatar

    There’s an old military adage that says “don’t fight the enemy where they want to be fought.” I think it’s applicable to Lexus. Instead of building cars to compete directly with ze Germans, why not try something a little different? I mean, that’s how Lexus broke into the market in the first place.

  • avatar

    Uh, is this a huge TTAC scoop? The official Lexus website states 
    Witness the unveiling of the LF-Gh Concept Vehicle Tuesday, April 19, 2011.

  • avatar

    It’s a concept car.

    (that looks like a rendering)

  • avatar

    The Japanese Luxury brands need to find a design for the front end of their cars that is recognizable and stick to it. BMW, Mercedes and Audi all have front ends which are on the whole very easy to identify and give their brands some unity. Lexus and Infiniti seem to have been hitting them all over the park when it comes to a design theme over the years. Actually I could add Jaguar to the list I guess – once upon a time a Jag looked like a Jag. Now (although good looking) they aren’t definitively Jag’s any more.

    • 0 avatar

      I think it’s like sports teams: All the good logos and colors were taken 20 years ago. Consider the Celtics, Lakers, Bulls, vs. The Thunder, Warriors, Hornets. 

      The Automotive Analogue- BMW twin kidney and propeller, Mercedes 3 pointed star and oft imitated cross hatch, Audi interlocking rings and.. well not so much anymore.
      English: really the best with grills and logos: Rolls with the flying lady and Parthenon proud (until Lincoln imitated it on the 68 Mark III.) Bentley with the flying B. Jag with the leaping cat and sweet little oval openings. 

      The Europeans used up all the good grill designs and logos 50 years ago. All the Japanese have left to fight back with are stylized Letters (see Acura and Lexus) or 3D badges (see Infinity, although I actually think that is one of the best ‘new’ auto logos)

      There are no, repeat no iconic identifiable Japanese grills. 

      And American cars had great grills and front end designs until about 1967, and then they decided that if they made Chevrolets look like Cadillacs they’d sell more cars, and they did for a while. But that act of cannibalism ended up decimating the entire industry.

  • avatar

    I am sure the front looks much better after several pints in person.

    • 0 avatar

      It better be because as is it shames the “big mouth” Audi’s while stealing their LED eyes as well. Shame on Lexus, its like they are not even trying. Don’t these huge grills kill aero efficiency? Or is this part of the Euro pedestrian standards where the front ends have to be higher and more blunt?

  • avatar

    Edward, you state:
    “a major US market luxury brand without a popular full-sized luxury sedan.”

    Actually the LS is the full-sized model, and it was wildly successful from day one. In fact, that is one of the odd things about Lexus, they’ve always sold more of the big, expensive LS models than the smaller, less costly GS line.

    • 0 avatar

      That is odd. I am curious why buyers of 5 series and E classes do not seem to be interested in either the GS or the Infinity M.
      It seems that both companies have earned some credibility in the marketplace. Infinity with the G35/G37 and Lexus with the LS.
      (I am getting dizzy from all of these letter combinations, I think I better lie down)

  • avatar

    File this under “What’s wrong with this picture?”. Looks like the mouth from the “Predator” creature got grafted on an A8.

  • avatar

    I won’t add my disgust for the front end to what’s already been said, but I think the rear is a copy of the new Sonata.  All in all, looks best in profile.  Now the question is, did they make it any bigger inside?  Will it actually be “full sized”?

    • 0 avatar

      Why does it need to be Full Sized?? That’s what the LS is for. Nearly every car on the road today is a good 400 or 500 lbs heavier than it should be, and too large. If anything they should cut down the length. Must every car fit  a 6’3″ 278 lb guy? Most of us simply do not need that much interior room, even if we wish we did.
      Lose a few pounds, fer petes sake

  • avatar

    Just like the very large grilles on some of the Audi vehicles, I think that splitting the grille into an upper and lower with a body color bar of some sort would make the car look better. These cars always look a little better with a front license plate that breaks the grille up.
    The side view is too plain. The rear end view looks pretty good I think.

  • avatar

    The GS has always been a half-baked, bland, awkward car. Lexus copied the S-class easily enough with the first LS400, but they weren’t quite sure what to do or who to copy with the GS. E or 5? E or 5? Lexus has never been able to figure it out.
    The second gen GS300/400 I think was the worst of the lot. Brilliant reliability, but just AWFUL design, both on the outside and the inside. What the heck was with those pea green gauges? Who’s brilliant idea was that?
    The current car is an improvement over the hideous gen 2, and it does have a much better interior than the Kmart special RL and the M35/45. It’s still much too bland to drive though, and the interior is badly packaged. The trunk is Corolla sized. The new Infiniti M easily leapfrogs the GS on the inside, though the exterior looks like a super-Maxima.
    In the last gen the best cars were the 5 series and A6, and that I’m sure will remain the same with the current gen cars. The BMW and Audi will be faster, better handling, and will have better interior design and materials than this upcoming GS. I’m sure Lexus is in for yet another sales disaster.

  • avatar

    Didn’t anyone tell Lexus that huge grills are freaking ugly? 

  • avatar

    The fact that the GS has been a dog has been good for the used car buyer.  Sure, it’s not perfect, but it’s pretty dang good for 35% off original sticker with only 30k on the odometer.  And while it’s not perfect, I’d take my odds with driving an Lexus to high miles over a similar BMW, Audi or Benz. 

    My complaints with the GS350 are #1, the fact that Lexus deliberately makes it near impossible for someone to do their own maintenance on that vehicle.  A simple oil change is not simple on that vehicle.  #2, premium fuel required.  There’s nothing athletic enough about that vehicle that makes me think 91 octane should be required.  De-tune the motor so I can run the cheap stuff and actually take full advantage of pretty decent fuel economy.  And last, safety recall madness.  My Accord has had near zero recalls.  Not impressed when a recall notice comes ever 6 months.  I could complain about interior and trunk space, because my 12 year old Accord seriously has much more space, but I didn’t buy a GS for trunk space or hauling 4 kids around.  It does fit 4 adults reasonably comfortable so that’s enough IMO.

    • 0 avatar

      it actually has the best resale value in its class, for the all the bashing that’s going on here. I guess if you’re born without a 3 pointed star or little blue propeller on the hood, you get no love.

  • avatar

    L F dash G lower case h?  Really?  
    I think the name is the perfect symbol for the car- trying desperately to immitate Nissan, but failing to nail what makes it sexy.

  • avatar

    So sticking an Audi grille with bottocks is supposed to increase sales from these throw away bland luxury cars?

    I think instead they should concentrate on reduced recalls for defects, better trunk and interior space, less copy cat exterior styling and more modern engine tech by using SIDI so that premium fuel is not required. Even people with money are compaining about this one. And to think that many other companies are copying Lexus styling is pretty sad.

  • avatar

    Why don’t they just go all the way and get it over with:

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