Frankfurt 2009: Lexus LF-Ch Hybrid Hatchback Debut

Colum Wood
by Colum Wood

Despite a strong presence on this side of the Atlantic, Lexus has yet to penetrate the European market. But they folks at Toyota’s luxury arm are hoping that a premium level hatchback in the compact segment – that also just so happens to be a hybrid – will help them win over a new (younger) generation of customers.

The LF-Ch Concept is a look at what that vehicle may look like.

Lexus is staying tight-lipped about the possible hybrid drivetrain but it is expected to be either that found in the new 2010 Prius or in the HS250h – that later of which is not scheduled to go on sale in Europe. Lexus also did not comment on if the LF-Ch production version would see U.S. shores.

A production version is planned to start in 2010 to compete against cars like the BMW 1 Series, Audi A3 and Volvo C30. The name is expected to be CT200h, as Lexus has already submitted a patent for that alphanumeric combination, as well as a few variants.

GALLERY: Lexus LF-Ch Concept

Official release after the jump:

• Conceptualisation of the first Lexus full hybrid in the European premium compact segment
• L-finesse design creates a unique juxtaposition of powerful, machine-like surfacing and fluid, hand-sculpted detailing
• Advanced interior design featuring asymmetric dashboard and Remote Touch control, emphasising outstanding driver ergonomics
• Blacked out B pillars with concealed rear door handles create the image of a powerful, pillarless coupe
Making its world debut at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, the Lexus LF-Ch full hybrid concept is a clear visualisation of the company’s first approach to the highly competitive European premium compact segment.
Reflecting an ever increasing demand for smaller, more fuel and CO2 efficient cars which, nonetheless, do not compromise on either refinement or driving pleasure, the compact segment will grow to represent the largest share of the premium automotive market by 2010.
Reaffirming Lexus’ European market commitments, the LF-Ch concept combines compact dimensions, stylish 5-door packaging, full hybrid technology and low emissions to perfectly fulfil the most demanding premium compact customer requirements. With the unparalleled levels of quality, refinement and sophisticated on-board technology which hallmark every Lexus, the LF-Ch is designed specifically to appeal to a new, younger generation of customers.
Exterior Design
Bringing enormous visual impact to Lexus’ Frankfurt 2009 stand, the new LF-Ch concept represents an exceptionally powerful evolution of the company’s unique L-finesse design philosophy.
This ground-breaking design rationale is deeply rooted in Japanese culture. It is identified in every aspect of the full hybrid 5-door concept, not only in the development of harmonious visual synergies between the interior and exterior design, but also in the combination of leading edge engineering and technology with an entirely humanised, extra-ordinary simplicity of function.
The LF-Ch designers have focused on the careful juxtaposition of opposing major and minor elements. Intriguing contrasts between the powerful, machine-like overall surfacing of the bodywork and the painstaking detailing of even the smallest elements has created a unique synergy of technologically-driven design and fluid, hand-sculpted quality.
With a new, more aggressive Lexus grille design over a deep, full-width bumper and air dam, the front of the LF-Ch expresses the perfect balance of precision and power. Sharply sculpted, aerodynamic front wings overlap the bumper to create deep, front brake-cooling air intakes, while powerfully reinforcing a purposeful, wide-track stance hinting at excellent agility and high speed stability.
In profile, tapered glazing above a muscular, rising beltline and an aggressively truncated rear overhang instantly identify the LF-Ch as a premium, compact segment 5-door concept. The steeply raked windscreen, long flowing roofline and blacked out B pillars combine with rear door handles seamlessly integrated into the compact pillar window trim to give the stylish 5-door design the appearance of an elegant, sporting, pillarless coupe.
To the rear, the finely honed trailing edge of the roof overhangs the rear window to create a seamlessly integrated rear spoiler. A pronounced step in the tailgate section flows from the muscular rear wheel arch shoulders, and is anchored by a sweeping, wraparound tail lamp design. Careful aerodynamic detailing of the lower bumper both smoothes airflow from beneath the car and provides cooling ventilation to the rear brakes.
Discreet, Lexus hybrid blue badging and sharply tapering chrome mouldings subtly enhance the LF-Ch’s hybrid image. And the design’s harmonious synergies and juxtapositions are further reflected in the contrast between the dynamism of the LF-Ch’s energised yellow exterior finish and the tranquil, calming blue illumination of the interior.
Interior Design
The visual impact of L-finesse is carried into the interior. Once again, a powerful simplicity of form harmonises with the hand-crafted quality of even the smallest details to create a uniquely calm, efficient and elegant cabin design.
The LF-Ch concept’s interior features a strongly asymmetric dashboard which focuses on the driver, placing the emphasis on outstanding ergonomics. The Lexus seamlessly anticipates the driver’s needs through several surprising elements that provide a new driving sensation. When the car is started, the navigation screen greets the driver, while the headliner lighting subtly reveals an ambient pattern reminiscent of a sophisticated lounge.
The extensive use of semi-aniline leather, polished aluminium, wood and dark, soft touch materials reinforces the premium quality of the environment. The subtle use of natural materials reinforces the theme of harmonious contrast in the dashboard, door panels and seating, elegantly integrating high technology within hand-crafted finishes.
The seating is inspired by the handcrafted essence of high quality furniture design. With an exposed metal frame, lightweight leather and grained black wood, the seat structure is built up in a carefully calculated rhythm of inter-related layers, shaped to reflect the intrinsic nature of each material used.
Appropriate to the performance of the LF-Ch’s full hybrid powertain, the low, highly supportive driving position is dominated by a sporting, wide grip steering wheel with integrated paddle shift controls and an instrument binnacle housing large, high-visibility, twin dials embellished with a unique, turbine blade motif.
Helping the driver to maintain an uninterrupted focus on the road ahead, distracting instrumentation and switchgear clutter has been minimised through the adoption of the Lexus Remote Touch control first seen in the new RX 450h.
Via a dash-top mounted multi-information display screen, Remote Touch operates on similar principles to a computer mouse, allowing the driver to access, control and customise a wide variety of infotainment and vehicle set-up programmes.
As with every Lexus, hospitality lies at the heart of the ownership experience, and the LF-Ch’s comprehensive on-board entertainment technology includes iPhone docking capability for rear seat passengers.
Powertrain and Driving Performance
Allied to a wide track, long wheel base and low centre of gravity, the LF-Ch’s sophisticated, full hybrid powertrain technology is designed to deliver all the performance customers expect from a premium compact segment 5-door, whilst simultaneously returning low fuel consumption, CO2 and NOx emissions.
Benefiting from the full hybrid technology of Lexus Hybrid Drive, the LF-Ch concept can be driven on EV mode; a fully electric driving mode not available to drivers of mild hybrid vehicles. With vehicle range dictated by battery charge, the EV drive mode allows for urban driving with minimal noise and zero emissions.
Dimensions (mm)
Overall length: 4,300
Overall width: 1,790
Overall height: 1,400
Wheelbase: 2,600

Tyre Size
Front: 225 / 35R20
Rear: 225 / 35R20

Colum Wood
Colum Wood

With AutoGuide from its launch, Colum previously acted as Editor-in-Chief of Modified Luxury & Exotics magazine where he became a certifiable car snob driving supercars like the Koenigsegg CCX and racing down the autobahn in anything over 500 hp. He has won numerous automotive journalism awards including the Best Video Journalism Award in 2014 and 2015 from the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). Colum founded Geared Content Studios, VerticalScope's in-house branded content division and works to find ways to integrate brands organically into content.

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