The new Lexus SC seems to have it all: Styling to take on Europe's best, two powerful engine choices, the world's first 10-speed automatic, and a price tag hovering around $150,000.
Debuting at the Detroit Auto Show in 2012 as the LF-LC Concept
, the newly named Lexus SC's tasty exterior comes from the studios of CALTY Design Research in California. After receiving better than expected reviews from the media and public, parent company Toyota has decided to produce the sleek coupe as early as 2017. The image you see here is based on one insider's comments and is basically what the finished product will look like.
We hear that the SC's 2+2 layout will be 4710mm in length, 1920mm in width and 1350mm in height, which makes the coupe even lower and wider than the gutsy Lexus RC-F revealed at this year's Detroit show.
Targeting rivals like the Mercedes Benz SL500 and the Maserati Gran Turismo Sport, the SC will be offered with two engine variations. Our source tells us that the flagship model will employ a revised version of the RC-F's naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V8 pumping out 354kW while a 3.5-litre V6 hybrid will generate at least 373kW.
That sounds like the same powertrain employed by the Lexus GS, and to a certain extent it is. The difference is that the SC will get Toyota's next generation hybrid unit, the "multi-hybrid" system. Its operation and mechanism are totally new, hence the huge boost in power.
While our source could not explain the nuts and bolts of the "multi-hybrid," he did say that drivers can select from two drive modes and that the motor will be smaller and lighter while the batteries will be significantly more powerful and lighter than any currently used hybrid.
But one feature that will give the SC a special place in automotive history is the fact that it will incorporate the world's first 10-speed automatic gearbox. Developed by Aisin AW, both GM and Hyundai are also expected to phase in the same 10-speed transmission in the next few years, but Lexus will precede all to be the first. Lexus' new 10-speed will also employ an upgraded version of the current 'sport direct shift', which upshifts in around 0.4 seconds.
The construction of the SC is a critical aspect for Lexus engineers as well. Employing a steel chassis with strategic sections made out of carbon fibre, the car features a body comprising multiple aluminium panels to keep kerb weight down. Utilising parts made at Toyota's Motomachi plant, the SC incorporates a small amount of components from the Lexus LFA flagship supercar.
In line with all high-performance cars produced by Lexus from now on, the SC will also employ the RC-F's new 'torque vectoring device' (TVD) which regulates the amount of torque channeled between the rear wheels.
Inside, Lexus engineers are upgrading the rear seat comfort levels. In fact, our source tells us that you can expect a significant jump in back seat comfort and roominess as well as interior design and trim levels.
With a projected launch date of 2017, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the SC is obviously locked on its main market in the US, but will also be sold in Europe, China and Australia. Pricewise, the expected price of $150,000 will undercut both rivals (the SL500's $161,000 and Gran Turismo's $180,000 in Japan) by at least $10,000, while both the V8 and V6 hybrid will out-power both European grand tourers.
The SC could well redefine Lexus in the super grand tourer class. Our source could not help himself, when he said: "Buyers will be getting a coupe that offers almost identical power and driving dynamics as the LFA but for less than half the price." Food for thought.