It may look like a Predator helmet mounted on ridiculous alloy wheels, but the Lexus LF-SA Concept is actually pretty sensible: think Alien-hunter for the urban dweller. Freshly revealed at the Geneva Motor Show this week, the diminutive two-door is Lexus’ take on the ultra-compact, sub-B-segment that Smart plays in. Less than 136 inches long and 67 inches wide, there’s hardly enough space on the front to mount the company’s ever-more-gaping spindle grille, here looking as though it’s puckering up to the Lexus badge.
While it may share the 2+2 seating and a general stance with the Scion iQ, in fact the LF-SA apparently bears no connection to the Toyota-made city car. That, according to Lexus, is down to the iQ not quite living up to the Japanese marque’s luxury aspirations (and if you consider the failure of the Aston Martin Cygnet, you can’t really argue with them).
Lexus has put that design flexibility to good use, and thrown just about every piece of surfacing and concave/convex bodywork trickery it has learned over the past few years as it took hitherto-anodyne models like the IS, GS, and LS, and made them a little more eye-catching.
Is it attractive? Opinion was certainly divided at the show; some I spoke to expressed an at least grudging admiration for the riot of cut-lines, while others weren’t able to get past aspects like the heavily-stepped rear.
There, the zig-zag lamps are strongly reminiscent of the Lexus NX crossover, though what proved to be a fairly controversial SUV itself pales into mundanity in comparison to the LF-SA.
Inside, Lexus has let its designers’ freak flag fly, with a fixed driver’s seat that instead has a steering wheel and pedal set that move forward and back to accommodate different sizes of people, and a hologram-style digital dashboard paired with a head-up display.
The passenger seat moves in a more traditional way, and thus allows access to the vestigial rear seats. You could probably squeeze a couple of small children in there, but anybody larger is going to start complaining.
Even so, Lexus points out, that’s not going to be something you’re likely to hear very often. For the vast majority of the time, city vehicles are carrying the driver alone, so their argument goes, and so something like the LF-SA makes perfect sense.
Lexus is resolute that absolutely no decision has been made to develop a production car based on the LF-SA Concept, viewing it instead as a styling and feedback exercise.
Nonetheless, with the rise of the urban crossover – smaller, in many cases, than even the NX – you could well argue that a more diminutive Lexus (perhaps with a hybrid powertrain, or even a plug-in hybrid borrowed from the Prius) sized to compete with a MINI would make sense for city use.