Created at ED2, Toyota’s European advanced design center near Nice, France, the Lexus UX concept is a bold take on the next evolution of the Lexus luxury car division’s polarizing design ethos. Watch the video above to see and hear all about its designers’ intentions.
“The brief was to make a C-segment SUV for the urban environment,” says exterior designer Stephan Rasmussen. “It had to look robust, but also had to be a nice sculpture.”
The directive was kept fairly loose, which allowed Rasmussen and interior designer Alexandre Gommier free to explore various possibilities, all of which revolved around an ‘inside-out’ theme. This required the designers to work in close collaboration, but also enabled them to reinterpret Lexus’ design themes as they saw fit.
The spindle grille, for example, isn’t as wide as on other Lexus vehicles, but it visually extends out towards the diagonally placed fenders thanks to the clever integration of lighting in the outer air intake grilles at the edges. Cast in aluminum — also used as the structure for the seat frame — the material creates a link between the vehicle’s exterior and its interior.
The voluminous fender forms — and their aerodynamically-optimized plastic surrounds — are also representative of a secondary, 3D sculptural theme recurring throughout the exterior as well as the interior. They protrude out of the body to mimic the front end’s spindle grille theme on the bodyside.
At the rear, the fender forms also creep onto the rear fascia, mirroring the spindle grille motif onto the body surface, while high set 3D lamp element connects to the rear headrests through the C-pillar.
“The main inspiration was lightness,” says interior designer Gommier. “We wanted to give the impression of security but with an open feeling.”
Playing up to the younger generations’ preference for customization, the interior offers the possibility for the HMI layout to be configured according to taste, but it isn’t a simple 2D graphic. Gommier concedes typical meters lack depth, so he pushed for a 3D floating meter ahead of the driver.
The center console features a gesture control-operated hologram that displays various information, which can be used by the driver and the passenger, while information on the center screen is operated via a touchpad.
Particularly interesting visual details include the transparent acrylic cutouts in the A-pillar to enhance visibility as well as the feeling of spaciousness, and the speaker unit within the IP. Made of kevlar, it diffuses the sound homogeneously throughout the interior, enabling the driver to have the same level of sound quality as passengers in the rear.
The front seats, inspired by the Lexus Kinetic Seat concept developed at the company’s HQ in Japan, are made of two pieces of leather, glued and thatched over an aluminum-cast frame for lightness, while the solid white leather bench seat emphasizes safety and security for rear seat passengers.
In all, the Lexus UX concept is a fresh and bold look at the future of the Lexus brand from a compact SUV format, brimming with innovation from a materials and HMI perspective.
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