Thursday, March 09, 2017

Lexus LC 500 Athletic, Artistic, Accomplished

Lexus LC 500h On The Kona Coast. Image Credit: James Groth (2017)

Lexus LC 500 Athletic, Artistic, Accomplished
by: James Groth, Miles Ahead Communications - Kona, Hawaii - February 2017

“Experience Amazing” is the new tag line for Lexus. The journalists on this media trip certainly did have an amazing experience from the exotic setting of volcanic Kona to the overall performance and striking design of the 2018 Lexus LC 500 and 500h coupes.

Toyota Motor Company committed one billion dollars over a five year development period to launch these Grand Touring Coupes to compete in the Prestige/Luxury Sector of $100,000 cars. The new models arrive in May at a rate of 400 units per month. The low production will add to the exclusiveness prestige clients and early adopters seek. Pricing for the LC 500 will start at $92,000 the LC 500h starts at $96,510.

Lexus LC 500 V8 Showing Its 3D Graphics Tail Lights. Image Credit: James Groth (2017)

This project started at the top with president Akido Toyoda. Mr Toyoda changed the culture of Lexus cars from highly reliable generic looking luxury cars to cars with a distinct style and spirited performance. The new models that create powerful emotions from their driver or bystanders.  Mr. Toyoda is also Chief Brand Officer and one of the Lexus Master Drivers, so he is well equipped to inspire as he has with these flagship models.

Lexus LC 500 V8 In Autumn Shimmer Kona, Hawaii. Image Credit: James Groth (2017)

The LC coupes are not intended to directly compete with Lamborghini and Ferrari, since these are primarily weekend cars. The target is Mercedes SL, Jaguar F-type and BMW 650, cars that are usable as daily drivers while highly capable as  international touring vehicles. The LC 500 coupes keep the romance of crossing Europe safely at high speed and comfort a practical reality. Note that the LC 500h is particularly fuel efficient for a high performance car, given its EPA rating of 26 city / 35 highway / 30 combined. The V8 version is  EPA rated at 16 /26 /19.

Lexus LC 500 Four Seasons Hotel Kona, Hawaii. Image Credit: James Groth (2017)

Thees coupes have an entirely new platform designated as GA-L (Global Architecture - Luxury). The design goals that were met are a low center of gravity for improve handling and a chassis stiffness that exceeds even the half million dollar Lexus LFA supercar. During the day long drive roll and lean were never an issue in tight corners. The LC 500 feels as light on its feet as a wide receiver making down field cuts. Co-drivers gave this set up high marks
for comfort and handling.

Lexus LC 500 Road Test Kona, Hawaii. Image Credit: James Groth (2017)

I had the opportunity to drive and compare both the 471 horsepower V8 and the 345 horsepower Multi Stage Hybrid V6 with twin electric motors. Both versions have their own personality with only  three-tenths of second  performance variance from 0-60 mph in favor of the V8. The 5.0-liter V8 has DOHC, 32 valves with variable value timing and 398 lb-ft. of torque at 4,800 rpm.Red line is 7,100 rpm and peak torque in held from 4,800 to 5,600 rpm.

The acceleration from a stop is to sixty is a mere 4.4 seconds. Top speed is limited electronically to 168 mph. The V8 weights in at 4,280 lbs. The island’s roads while fine for testing on road handing don’t provide many opportunities for high speed, but that was not essential to get the true spirit of how most owners will enjoy their cars. I found two-lane passing effortless and happening as fast as you can plant your right foot down and snap the paddle shifters.

Gear Shift in Leather and Satin Chrome. Image Credit: James Groth (2017)  

The transmission is a 10-speed Sport Direct Shift with paddle shifter and manual mode.  This multi cam V8 is  exhilarating at any speed without flat spots in its power curve. The 10-speed transmission efficiency wastes none of this power by with its rapid change and seeming endless gearing.

However, the rush that impressed me was the sound and feel of dropping fours gears at ninety. It’s a sound I have only heard on the track when Formula 1 or  Indy Cars or are downshifting. I always thought I really don’t need more than five gears as long as one is an overdrive. This Sport Direct Shift 10-speed changed my mind, not only for the fast times and fuel efficiency but
for the sheer fun of it.

Lexus LC 500h in on Kona Coast. Image Credit: James Groth (2017)

Power in the 500h is derived from an Atkinson-cycle 3.5-liter gas V6 with direct fuel injection, variable value timing and red lining at 6,600-rpm. This engine accounts for 220 kW / 295 HP and torque of 348 Nm / 256.7 lb.-ft @ 4,900 rpm. The MSHS allows the LC 500h to operate the gas engine off at speeds up to 87 mph. Emission certification is LEV lll SULEV30.

Lexus LC 500h in Smokey Granite Mica in Kona, Hawaii. Image Credit: James Groth (2017)

The hybrid system includes twin permanent magnet synchronous motor generators. MG1’s function is primary generator, engine starter and control of engine speed. MG2 drives the rear wheels and handles regenerative braking. The compact battery is Lithium-icon made up of 84 cells and is located between the rear seats and luggage compartment. The nominal voltage is 310.8V and the system voltage is 650V. The total systems power is 264 kW / 354 HP. The manufacture times are 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds, outstanding for a car that weighs 4,435 lbs. Lexus says this is their first hybrid that can spin its tires.

Lexus LC 500h Multi-Stage Hybrid logo. Image Credit: James Groth (2017)

Bill Kwong of Lexus College explained the Lexus Hybrid Synergy Drive as keeping the planetary-type continuously variable transmission and adding a unique four-speed transmission. Working in concert,the two gears alter output in four stages to utilize the V6 engine across the entire speed range. In M mode, the two gear sets act together to provide the effect of 10 ratios, giving the LC 500h a highly engaging feel and allowing the driver to shift thought the ratios with paddle shifters.

Lexus LC 500h in Ultra White. Image Credit: James Groth (2017)

Top speed in the hybrid is electronically limited to155 mph, another indication that this model is not trying to be a track day star. Instead this is a 2+2 is designed for safe touring in comfort at speed. These coupes are front midship engine layouts with rear-wheel drive.

I inquired about the possibility of all-wheel drive. No AWD is planned at this time and in the case of the 500h there in not the space to accommodate the hardware. Given the effectiveness of the suspension that includes double ball joint front suspension AWD should not be draw back. The turning circle curb to curb is a tight 17.7 ft and with the optional Active Rear Steering a mere 17.4 ft.

The Lexus Corporate Identity Design Feature Is Its Spindle Grill. Image Credit: James Groth (2017) 

The spindle grill gives the LC 500 coupes a distinctive recognizable look and is the brands signature design feature. Lexus designed a unique mesh texture that changes visual tension as it spreads across the front of the car.

Compact Triple Projector LED Headlights. Image Credit: James Groth (2017)

Adding to the sleek look of the front end are ultra compact triple LED headlamps with functional venting.The venting adds aerodynamic stability and cooling.

The Chrome-Plated Moldings Reflect A Traditional Japanese Sword. Image Credit: James Groth (2017)

The chrome plated moldings on the edge of the roof are meant to represent the lines of a traditional Japanese sword. Even the rear tail lights have a design element to them not previously seen. The tail lights use mirrors to create a three dimensional series of L-shaped graphics.

The standard wheels are 20” cast aluminum with run flats Fr. 245/45RF20. and Rr. 275/40RF20. There optional forged aluminum 20” Fr. 245/45RF/20 and Rr. 275/45/20 and 21”Fr. 245/45RF20 and Rr. 275/35RF21. The front brakes have 6-piston calipers and the rear have 4-piston calipers.

Materials and Details Showcase ’Takumi’ Craftsmanship Artisan Design. Image Credit: James Groth (2017)

The interior appointments of the monotone interior are exquisite with switches that are intuitive requiring little movement to reach.  An 8” LCD display with Eco driving indicator is set low in the cockpit in keeping with the low center of gravity objective. The door handles are sculptures in satin chrome. Alcantara door panels have a wave effect artistically complimenting the lines of the dash. All of the interior stitching is done by hand and is so precise
it’s hard to tell.                          

The Satin Chrome Door Handles Are Sculptures. Image Credit: James Groth (2017)

Thankfully Lexus designers have retained an upright gearshift lever rather than a ‘pop up dial shifter’. A 10.3 inch multi-information display combines graphic user interface with upgradeable software along with latest remote touch interface touchpad.

The instrument binnacle is unique in its singular design and look. It is the lasted version of thin film transistor display tech, first introduced on the LFA supercar. Front seats are 10-way power in leather, rear seats are Nu Luxe.

Traditional it is not, the LC 500 may be setting the new contemporary look for functionality.  It is understandable why the LC 500 was selected as “Best Design Interior”.

10-Way Power Front Seats in Leather, Rears in NuLuxe. Image Credit: James Groth (2017)

The test LC 500h came equipped with the optional Mark Levinson 835 watt, 7.1 channel,13-speaker system  tailored to the LC interior and will attract audiophiles seeking a reference quality setup. This system includes Claire-Fi music restoration tech that enhances playback by analyzing and improving the sound quality of compressed digitized music.

Also, there are Sport, Performance and Touring Packages to further personalize the LC5 500h. As expected in this level of automobile all the latest safety systems are standard and include pre-collision with pedestrian detection, all-speed radar cruise control, lane departure with steering assist, sway warning and intelligent high beam system.

Lexus LC 500 An Aggressive Design and Stance Backed Up by Its Performance. Image Credit: James Groth (2017)

Lexus already has ‘reliable’,’trusted’ and ‘practical' in their consumer confidence deck, now they are adding the emotional appeal of ‘high style design' to their hand of cards. For some the trump card may be the offering of a hybrid model with unrivaled fuel efficiency for its sector; the figures are worth repeating 26 city / 35 highway / 30 combined.

TAGS: Lexus, Lexus 500, Lexus 500h, Experience Amazing, Toyota Motor Company, James Groth  

The New McLaren 720S Geneva Launching In More Ways Than One

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Iconic Lotus ESPRIT S1 Reborn As An Evora Sport 410 By Lotus Exclusive

Unique, single-production Evora Sport 410, created by Lotus Exclusive as a tribute to one of Lotus' most famous liveries. Image Credit: Group Lotus plc (2017)

Iconic Lotus ESPRIT S1 Reborn As An Evora Sport 410 By Lotus Exclusive

Representing the state of the supercar art, a one-of Evora Sport 410 has been commissioned through Lotus Exclusive as a tribute to one of its most famous ancestors, the Lotus Esprit S1.

A very special Lotus Esprit S1 that, in the James Bond movie - The Spy Who Loved Me, featured the additional capabilities of shooting rockets and missiles, as well as becoming a submarine with the push of a button. Image Credit: Group Lotus plc (2017)

Launched in October 2016, the Evora Sport 410 has wowed motoring press and customers with its combination of effortless pace and intuitive handling. With production limited to just 150 examples a year worldwide, the build schedule is filling up fast.

This Evora Sport 410 features a black coach line that delineates the car’s waist. Image Credit: Group Lotus plc (2017)

The benchmark was set by the original Lotus Esprit S1 as seen in the Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, and Lotus’ in-house personalisation department, Lotus Exclusive, has crafted a special, one-of Evora Sport 410 in commemoration.

Carbon-fibre is the featured component used for the tailgate, rear quarter panels, as well as the rear diffuser. Image Credit: Group Lotus plc (2017)

Combining the latest in Lotus engineering with period details, the new pure-bred supercar takes design cues from the iconic Esprit and integrates them into a car with class-leading performance. Packing 410 hp into a car that weighs just 1,280 kg, it sprints from 0-60 mph in just 3.9 secs.

The use of hand-made carbon-fibre components has been key in keeping mass to a minimum, with each specifically designed to enhance the car’s performance. Image Credit: Group Lotus plc (2017)

Jean-Marc Gales, CEO, Group Lotus plc said, “So many of us recall the impact of the Lotus Esprit when it hit the big screen in The Spy Who Loved Me (movie trailer featuring the Lotus Esprit S1), and we wanted to honor that with a special Evora Sport 410. It’s the perfect tribute to such an influential Lotus, but a world away in terms of its abilities and performance. Supremely fast and agile, rivals’ cars look overweight and under-powered in comparison. Lotus was founded on the principle of lightweight engineering and, even today, nobody does it better.”

Lotus Exclusive's attention to detail:

The work of the in-house Lotus Exclusive personalisation department of this one-of Evora Sport 410 features many unique design touches.

A special, color-coded bumper modifies the car’s front end, while the one-piece carbon-fibre tailgate is part keyed white to give the illusion of a traditional liftback. Image Credit: Group Lotus plc (2017)

In addition to a black coach line, delineating the car’s waist, it sports a bespoke badge script on the B pillar - in the style of the original Esprit’s graphics. Image Credit: Group Lotus plc (2017)

Nods to the Lotus Esprit S1 from The Spy Who Loved Me continue inside, with the insert panels of the carbon-fibre sports seats and door cards trimmed in the popular heritage Tartan, while red contrast stitching complements the Alcantara® dashboard and console finish. Image Credit: Group Lotus plc (2017)

Beneath the personalisation, this unique car retains all the engineering elements that make the Evora Sport 410 so formidable. From the supercharged, 3.5-litre 6-cylinder engine, producing 410 hp at 7000 rpm and 420 Nm of torque at 3500 rpm, to the highly advanced aerodynamics, which deliver up to 64 kg of downforce, it’s designed to deliver both on road and track.

The Evora Sport 410 remains refined on B-roads, but blisteringly fast when needed. The use of hand-made carbon-fibre components has been key in keeping mass to a minimum, with each specifically designed to enhance the car’s performance. Covering the car from nose to tail, they include front splitter, revised front access panel, roof section, tailgate, rear quarter panels, as well as the rear diffuser.

These lightweight carbon components not only reduce the curb weight of the Evora Sport 410 but also help lower the center of gravity, allowing for the recalibration of the suspension, which, along with re-valved dampers and a reduced ride height, provide better body and roll control - but not at the expense of comfort and composure.

This single-production Evora underlines the work of the increasingly popular Lotus Exclusive service. Combining traditional British craftsmanship with modern design, it inspires buyers to spend time tailoring the character of their Lotus with a comprehensive array of options.

Jean-Marc Gales, CEO, Group Lotus plc continued, “Our customers have really embraced the Lotus Exclusive service, with 25% of new cars undergoing some form of personalisation. It is well established that Lotus cars come with benchmark performance as standard. Now, thanks to the skilled team at Hethel, responsible for hand building all Lotus cars since 1966, you can specify a Lotus that perfectly reflects your personal tastes.”

The standard production Lotus Evora Sport 410 is limited to a global production run of one-hundred and fifty (150) vehicles per year, and is on sale in Europe and rest of world markets now. A Federal version of the Evora Sport 410 for the North American market will arrive this spring.

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Lotus Exclusive, Lotus Evora Sport 410, Lotus Cars, Lotus Esprit S1, The Spy Who Loved Me, one-off, one-of, single-production, The Spy Who Loved Me, 40th anniversary, James Bond, The EDJE

Friday, January 06, 2017

USC Football Tradition At The 103rd Rose Bowl Gets A Boost For The Ages

Tommy Trojan statue, and gameday good luck charm, from the mid 1930's that was left behind in the family belongings of University of Southern California graduates Willard & Maxine Jenks ... FIGHT ON! Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2017)

USC Football Tradition At The 103rd Rose Bowl Gets A Boost For The Ages

Many folks who love and follow college football, and believe this form of the game to be the pinnacle of this organized team sport and competition, believed that the NCAA's push for a playoff upon which a national champion is crowned might dilute the luster of many of the post season Bowl contests and venues. Not so, with the venerable institution ... everyone in Southern California, the Pac-12 Conference, and the Big Ten Conference know as ... The Rose Bowl.

Try as the forces may, change at the Rose Bowl will never come easy ... if ever. Especially when the post season match-up features two of the most robust college football programs rebounding from the ebb and flow found through a change at the head coaching position or NCAA sanctions.

SCREW the NCAA's Bowl Championship Series (BCS) which, more times than not, is shaped by a sporting press corps largely based on the East Coast of the United States. This is the Rose Bowl baby, and it has become known through the ages as "The Grand-Daddy Of Them All" for good reason.

This 103rd Rose Bowl Game matched the Big Ten Conference champions Penn State Nittany Lions (BCS 5) against the USC Trojans (BCS 9) of the Pac-12 Conference, a rematch of the 1923 and 2009 Rose Bowls, the former the first appearance for either team in the bowl and the latter the most recent appearance for either team.
(ht: Wikipedia)

How great a Rose Bowl contest was this game? Let us count the ways through the records (9) that fell which were gathered through 102 previous contests at the Pasadena venue located at the top of Arroyo Seco.

For background music during reading, please use what the production staff used to bump into, and out of, commercial breaks during the ESPN broadcast from the Rose Bowl - California Dreamin' by Sia (originally - The Mama's & Papa's, 1966).

1) Deontay Burnett: Most touchdown receptions (3) - Burnett tied Braylon Edwards' 2005 record of three touchdown catches in a Rose Bowl. That included the Trojans' final touchdown, which tied the game at 49-49 with just 1:20 to play.

2) Matt Boermeester: Most field goals made (three) - Boermeester tied a Rose Bowl record with three field goals made (including the game-winner as time expired), a mark held by five other players. He is, however, very likely the first kicker in Rose Bowl history to do a dab after a game-winning field goal.

3) Penn State: Most points ever for a losing team (49) - A mark that the Nittany Lions certainly wish they didn't own.

4) USC: Biggest fourth-quarter comeback - The Trojans set a Rose Bowl record by overcoming a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to get the win.

5) Trace McSorley and Sam Darnold: Most touchdowns responsible for (5) - The two quarterbacks were phenomenal, with both tallying five touchdowns. That is tied for the most touchdown scores ever for one player in a Rose Bowl game with two other players.

6) Sam Darnold: Most touchdown passes in a game (5) - Darnold did all of his damage through the air, setting the Rose Bowl mark with five touchdown passes.

7) Sam Darnold: Most points ever in a Rose Bowl game (32) - Darnold accounted for 32 total points — five touchdowns and a two-point conversion — as he broke Vince Young's record for most all-time points scored in a Rose Bowl.

8) Sam Darnold: Most yards ever in a Rose Bowl (474 yards) - And most incredibly, Darnold broke Vince Young's single game Rose Bowl record of 467 yards, which was set during that iconic 2006 national championship game between Texas and USC.

9) Highest Scoring Rose Bowl ever (101 points) - The teams easily sailed past the previous mark of 83, set in 2012 by Oregon and Wisconsin.

It was an incredible Rose Bowl, and we very likely won't see anything like it again any time soon.
(ht: FOX Sports

Cue the USC Trojan Marching Band and the song "CONQUEST" - or as this next article states as it ends ... "God, I hate that song."

This edited and excerpted from Penn Live -

Enduring USC band's "Conquest" after gut-punch loss is a special slice of hell for Big Ten fans
By David Jones |

Penn State fans, you got the true Big Ten Pasadena experience this time in all its gory Technicolor detail. By that, I mean you were initiated into the conference brotherhood of heartbreak at the hands of USC.

It's a birthright for anyone at Michigan or Ohio State, losing an excruciating game to the Trojans at the world's most enchanting athletic venue. There is no more bittersweet experience in sports than attending a Rose Bowl, gazing agape at the vividness of the beauty all around you. The colors all seem richer even when it's cloudy, the air like velvet even when it's chilly.

Then your team makes a valiant effort, you think victory is at hand and at the very end it's snatched away by the Evil Empire in cardinal and gold. Ask anyone in Ann Arbor or Columbus. This is a rerun they've lived through over and over.

As a kid back in the 1960s and '70s, I watched Woody Hayes take four different teams into the Rose Bowl to meet USC. Two of those ended in just such a painful manner. Then, when I was an OSU undergrad, yet another narrow defeat at the very end in the post-1979 game. Michigan folks can tick off the Pasadena losses to USC: 1969, 1976, 1978, 1989, 2003, 2005.

Northwestern (1995) fans of a certain age know the feeling, too. And though they never play at the Rose Bowl, Notre Dame folks know all about it.

Like some of the OSU and Michigan defeats, I don't think Penn State's post-2008 loss qualifies because it was never in doubt. Which is sort of a prerequisite for real agony and the unique pain yet to come.

And what's that nadir moment? The sound of the Trojan band in their war-helmeted outfits piping up when their triumph is clear. And I don't mean the little ditty they play the whole game after defensive stops like Florida State's tomahawk chop tune. Or the Fight On song they strike up after touchdowns.

I mean their victory march. Just hearing it brings on dark memories from my childhood, recollections I keep in the back of the mind's bottom drawer with moving days and dying pets. It's the dirge from a recurring nightmare.

USC's band only plays the song when they know they've won. It's called Conquest and the reason it sounds like the soundtrack out of a 20th Century Fox epic from the '40s is that's exactly where it came from. It's their version of Red Auerbach's victory cigar and the I Believe chant begun by Navy midshipmen.

It's worse, though. Because it drips with a special arrogance. And as much as you hate it, you know it's a great piece of music.

The conductor uses as his baton a gilded gladius, the stubby sword of ancient Greek and Roman foot soldiers, stabbing it in the air with the marching cadence. In the back of your mind you know this is the band that played Tusk behind Fleetwood Mac. It's the band that crossed over into the record industry and show business.

All the while the damn horse is prancing around [Traveler]. He's not just a horse, of course. He has to be white. Like Dr. Evil's cat.

But you know what the very worst part is? You take in the whole scene in despondence, the USC fans mimicking the trumpet flourishes with their "Oh-oo-oh-ooooo" and the incomparable Song Girls in their white sweaters calmly punching the air with a V for victory in all their confident perfection. And you allow yourself the fleeting thought:

If you'd been born into their tribe and their golden land, you'd love being one of them.

That's the worst part! That's the part that drives you nuts. Because you'll have to think about this loss for nine months. You're flying home the next day. Winter has only begun.

Meanwhile, they'll be in California. And they'll probably forget about it tomorrow when they leave work early for the beach.

God, I hate that song.
[Reference Here]

We, at MAXINE, couldn't be happier to read such a well written and well-rounded review of the winning college football tradition experienced at the University of Southern California whose teams are known as the Trojans. Again, as one hears the musical strains of the trumpets blare Conquest - FIGHT ON!

TAGS: University of Southern California, USC, Football, Rose Bowl, 103rd Rose Bowl, Pac-12 Conference, Big Ten Conference, Penn State, Trojans, Nittany Lions, Records, Conquest, Sam Darnold, Matt Boermeester, Deontay Burnett, MAXINE