The all-new Lexus UX takes a new design direction that successfully combines styling cues from sleek coupes and rugged 4x4s to create a compact crossover well-suited to the tastes and requirements of younger, highly connected urban customers. The approach is true to Lexus’s innovative “yet” philosophy, in which seemingly contradictory qualities are brought together to great effect
The new model, scheduled to arrive in UK showrooms next March, is the work of a team at Lexus’s ED2 design studio in the South of France. Exterior Designer Stephan Rasmussen, explained: “Our brief was to create a new genre of crossover, a vehicle that would progress the ownership experience and create something really unique. We studied ideas from many sources, but the main inspiration came from the motif ‘secure yet agile’.”
Key to the car’s design impact is its human-centred quality and a seamless blending of the inside and outside of the vehicle inspired by engawa, a traditional Japanese architectural concept.
An early UX concept model was revealed at the 2016 Paris Motor Show and the positive reception it attracted inspired Chief Designer Tetsuo Miki and his team to create a road-going version. Guided by the basic principles of the “yet” philosophy, “human-centred” and “pioneering,” they developed a new “Cross-Create” design approach, expressed in a series of creative statements.
- Exterior yet Interior: using the concept of engawa, Lexus designers smoothed boundary between the car’s exterior and interior, connecting them with near seamless continuity. This approach is most evident when you sit in the UX’s driver’s seat, from where the car’s extremities can be clearly sensed. This makes it easier to manoeuvre and place the car on the road.
- Rugged SUV yet Dynamic Car: by combining distinctive features from two very different types of car – such as the rugged wheel arch mouldings of an SUV with a rear combination light inspired by the shape of sports car spoiler – a highly original crossover design has been produced.
- Robust Exterior yet Glamorous Image: the combination of a robust exterior and intricately sculpted bodywork gives the UX an appearance that exemplifies the Lexus brand.
- Stylish yet Functional: wheel arch mouldings are usually fitted to SUVs protect the bodywork from stone chips. On the new UX, they have the secondary function of helping stabilise the car’s aerodynamics. The same effect is provided by the design of the rear combination lights and the 17-inch alloy wheels.
- Driver-oriented yet Relaxing for Passengers: the designers created a driver-oriented cockpit but used central ornamentation details to achieve a smooth connection between the driver and passenger areas.
- Secure Interior yet Open Feel: the UX’s robust, structural elements are positioned low in the cabin and generate peace-of-mind, while from waist-level upwards the emphasis is on a class-leading field of vision and sense of space.
The UX’s design quality is further expressed in optional compact triple-LED headlights, which combine with arrowhead-shaped daytime running lights and Lexus’s signature spindle grille shape to give the car a distinctive “face”. The dominating feature of the rear of the car is the ultra-thin, one-piece LED combination lamp, extending across the full width of the vehicle. As well as being eye-catching, it makes a surprising contribution to the car’s handling performance: “When we tested the car, we could really feel how aerodynamic fins integrated into the rear light give the UX added stability,” Chief Designer Miki explained.