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New York show: Lexus confirms hybrid concept

Makeover: Lexus LF-Gh concept set for New York show is likely to foreshadow a replacement for the ageing GS range, seen here in GS300 guise.

Big Apple to host debut of Lexus LF-Gh concept that is expected to emerge as next GS

23 Mar 2011

LEXUS has promised a new hybrid concept car, the LF-Gh, at the New York motor show in April.

The luxury arm of Toyota has given no hints of what the new vehicle encompasses, except to say it will provide “a glimpse into the future of Lexus design”.

Overseas speculation is that the concept will foreshadow the next Lexus GS mid-range sedan that is due for a full makeover in 2012 to replace the current car that has been in production for six years.

The announcement of the new concept comes on the eve of the high-profile Australian launch of the new entry-level Lexus CT200h hatchback in the celebrity race at the Australian F1 Grand Prix in Melbourne.

Training for the celebrity drivers is scheduled to start tomorrow (Thursday) ahead of this weekend’s F1 event. The new model, which Lexus is billing as the world’s first luxury hybrid hatchback, will go on sale this month with a starting price of just $39,990 for the Prestige specification of the CT200h that gets a modified Toyota Prius hybrid powertrain.

31 center imageLeft: Lexus CT200h hybrid line-up. Bottom: Lexus CT200h Celebrity Challenge Australian Grand Prix car.

The bigger Lexus GS, the third generation of which was launched in Australia in 2005 with 3.0-litre V6 and 4.3-litre V8 engines, gained a V6 petrol-electric hybrid powertrain locally in 2006.

This GS450h has a combined fuel economy rating of 7.9 litres per 100km, compared with the standard GS300’s 9.8L/100km and V8 GS460’s 11L/100km.

While the next GS will retain a hybrid powertrain, a bundle of improvements can be expected, in line with newer hybrid powertrains from the Toyota family.

The slow-selling GS has contributed just 18 sales to Lexus Australia’s 873 units for the first two months of 2011. When it was fresh, the GS averaged about 60 sales a month, making it Lexus’s third best-seller after the IS sedan and RX SUV.

The ‘LF’ part of the latest concept car moniker is said to stand for ‘Lexus Finesse’, and is applied to styling concepts from the Japanese prestige brand’s own styling studios. The concept for the current GS was called LF-S and unveiled at the 2003 Tokyo motor show.

The hybrid version was launched at the New York motor show in 2005, arriving on the Australian market about a year later.

Prototypes of a new Lexus sedan fitting the description of a new-generation GS have been spied under test overseas.

UK’s Autocar says the new GS will share a platform with the next generation of the smaller IS, which is also due in 2012.

The LF-Gh concept will be revealed on April 19 – the eve of the New York show.

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