Lexus has revealed the LC500h ahead of its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show. A hybrid version of the company's LC500 sports coupe, this is the world's first hybrid car to have a manual gearbox.
The four-speed 'box is offered to help match engine revs (and sound) more closely to the position of the accelerator. Lexus says the LC500h can be switched from manual to an automatic mode at the push of a button.
To be shown off at Geneva, which opens to journalists on 1 March, the LC500h will be powered by Lexus' "Multi Stage Hybrid System". Not all performance figures have been revealed yet but it is known the hybrid system combines a 295-horsepower, 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine with an electric motor and that four-speed gearbox.
Total power is claimed to be 354-horsepower, which should see the LC500h hit 60mph in under five seconds. For comparison, the hybrid BMW i8 has a combined output of 360hp from a petrol engine and electric motor, and it hits 60 in 4.4 seconds.
Lexus boasts about the hybrid system generating "better acceleration feel than a conventional engine", which the manual gearbox option "allows for engine revs to be more closely matched to the driver's use of the accelerator". Although the car is described as a concept for now, order books are expected to open later in 2016 - a decision that will likely be made by parent company Toyota following the car's reception in Geneva.
Although Lexus is better known for making saloon cars driven by Alan Partridge, the company has a proven (and growing) record for producing genuinely exciting sports cars. The LFA supercar was heralded as one of the company's greatest achievements, while the regular petrol-powered LC500 is a 2+2 sports car (two seater with two child seats in the back) to rival the Porsche 911.
Lexus says both LC models "mark the beginning of a new phase for the Lexus brand, with a shift in engineering and design ideologies".