LA show: Lexus LF-C2 concept revealed

THIS is the new Lexus IS Convertible that's set to go on sale in 2016.

The new drop-top is based on the two-door version of the IS sedan, the Lexus RC coupe, and will cross swords with the BMW 4-Series and Audi A5 Cabriolet, as well as the Mercedes C-Class cabriolet, for summer lovin'.

Revealed at the LA motor show, a prime location for ostentatious drop-tops among its tall, palm-fringed avenues, the glorious gold concept car is led by the Lexus signature trapezoidal grille, bristling in black and chrome, with the same scheme on the huge wheels, and gloss black skirting around the trumped-up body kit.

Inside, there's cool white leather and chrome detailing, with the head restraints of the two-seat concept leading to turret-like sculpting over the boot area.

That's the key difference with this model: gone is the old IS250 C's metal roof, and instead there will be a folding cloth top. The head of Lexus design, Yasuo Kajino, told Wheels that the soft top had its benefits. "We wanted to prioritise the aesthetic of the car with the roof down," he said, referring to the compact packaging benefits of the soft-top compared with a metal folding roofs, which allows more freedom in the design.

It also saves weight, cost and complexity, as the 1780kg RC Coupe already weighs as much as a 4 Series convertible. "There's not much of a weight difference [between the Lexus coupe and convertible]," Kajino explains, "because initially, the RC Coupe was built to be stiff enough as a convertible."

Lexus maintains that this car is strictly a concept, but it's production viable and a key part of its success in North America, its biggest market where it outsells BMW, Mercedes and Audi. The production version on the LF-C2 will use the IS250's 2.5-litre V6, but we're hoping Lexus readies a rival for the BMW M4 Convertible by dropping in the RC F's 5.0-litre V8.

The Lexus RC convertible, as it may be known, is expected in Australia in early 2016.

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