Lexus shows way-out SUV concept
A new Lexus compact crossover concept vehicle, the UX Concept, made its world debut at the 2016 Paris Motor Show in October, showcasing Lexu's vision for a compact SUV of the future.
Designed by Lexu's design centre in the South of France, the UX Concept represents a new step in the company’s design journey, and Lexus says it’s a redefinition of the driving experience.
The bold design uses new technologies to provide occupants with a fully immersive experience generated through cockpit ergonomics which flow from the driver’s body, and innovative three-dimensional HMI technology.
The vehicle also features a first design execution of a breakthrough seat technology, the Kinetic Seat Concept, designed by Lexus in response to a re-evaluation of the principles of car seat occupancy.
As in New Zealand, the compact SUV premium segment is Europe’s fastest growing automotive segment, aimed at both well-heeled young customers, and those older drivers looking to downsize without compromising on comfort, driving position and space.
The UX Concept is a new variety of four-seater crossover which contrasts the almost brutal appearance and real 4x4 presence of an off-roader with a low ground clearance and a coupe-like driving position, reinforcing the dynamic performance promise embedded in the compact packaging of the design.
To the front, the wheel arches flow seamlessly into the cabin to form housings for e-mirror screens showing the image from door-mounted, rear facing cameras. The dashboard top sits lower than these screens to combine a deconstructed look with excellent forward visibility. To the rear, the bodywork again flows into the cabin, here forming the main structure of the rear seat headrests.
The wheel arches, roof bars and door cameras are all finished in the same material, and represent a form of continuous yet interrupted “bone” structure; the inner “skeleton” of the vehicle coming into view as, for instance, the roof bar penetrates the cabin, creating the A pillar structure, and re-emerges as the door camera mounting.
A further evolution of the Lexus spindle grille marks an important step forward, wherein the whole volume surrounding the grille, rather than simply the grille itself, creates the identity of the vehicle; a more threedimensional starting point which then informs the shape of the body shell.
These key external elements are linked together by highly sculptural, sensual surfacing reminiscent of a classic sports car.
Even the body colour has been designed to emphasise the shape of the ca rwith the newly-developed Immersive Amethyst paintwork giving definition to the sculpture and expressing the car as a volume rather than simply a line-oriented design.
A maturation of the DRL principle, light fibres which span the air vents at the front bumper extremities relate in form to the grille pattern. The mesh pattern of the grille itself spreads radially outwards from the logo and is picked up by the adjacent light fibres, emphasising the width of the car and giving it an even stronger road presence.
Even the unique tyres blur the accepted boundaries of materials. The tyre design itself utilises hi-tech laser carving processes to express two unique aspects. The tread pattern is of a sports direction, maximising road contact for dynamic grip, whilst the side wall emphasises a cros over feel through unique sections and seamless integration with the wheel design.
A “see-through” A pillar communicates the message of transparency through the use of polycarbonate fins attached to an aluminium member.
Inside, the cabin offers two different perceptions of luxury in one volume.
The front represents agile sophistication and driver engagement, the rear – styled as a welcoming, soft lounge sofa which wraps around into the rear hinged back doors – the comfort and spaciousness of a robust SUV.
The front is dark, to communicate a premium, driver-focused environment, while the rear is light and far brighter to create an attractive, welcoming space.
A development of Lexus’ dualzone instrumentation approach, all on-board HMI technology has been designed to offer progressive customers who live and work in an ever-connected environment an innovative, three-dimensional driver experience.
The highly three-dimensional feel of the instrumentation is a further example of the radical, deconstruction techniques used in the UX Concept, the in and out flow of the meters – near for air conditioning, far for navigation – making the cabin space feel larger.
The upper display, for example, is projected in such a way that it appears as a far distance display, under the bonnet, for ease of viewing when driving. The driver’s instrument binnacle houses a transparent globe, floating in the manner of a hologram, in which a combination of analogue and digital information express a functional yet unexpected user interface.
And the centre console houses a prominent, facetted crystal structure within which a hologram-style display of air conditioning and infotainment system is clearly visible to both driver and front passenger.
The latest advanced in-vehicle electrical technologies are also on display in the new UX Concept. It features electro-chromatic windows, and the door mirrors are replaced by e-mirror camera housings far slimmer than conventional mirror housing.
All switchgear is electrostatic, and housed under transparent covers. And the front passenger, who has a different experience of the deconstructed instrument panel to that of the driver, has a separate centre display track-pad control built into the door armrest panel.
Finally, the fin motif used on the A pillar is repeated on the dashboard to provide a new audio experience for the new generation Lexus customer – a demountable sound bar built into the passenger side of the dashboard.