muscle car

A key Lexus designer calls the LF-NX concept a “fighter”

10/02/2013—“To use boxing terminology, the Lexus LF-NX hybrid is a welterweight fighter,” says Lexus designer Nobuyuki Tomatsu when asked to describe Lexus’s latest concept vehicle, unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in early September. “While cutting his weight down to the bare minimum required, he has developed muscles essential for competing at the top of his game.”

Tomatsu’s words are an accurate description. The LF-NX’s exterior styling is full of aggressive lines, muscular motifs, and bold forms—innovative design elements it’s taken Tomatsu and a talented group of Lexus designers a significant amount of time to perfect.

Using a 1:1 scale model, the team worked hard to refine the vehicle to its optimum form. “We tried every conceivable idea to sharpen its overall look as much as possible,” Tomatsu explains, “so you wouldn’t see even an ounce of ‘fat’ on the resultant shape.”

It is immediately apparent that the LF-NX has inherited design cues from its predecessor concept vehicles—most notably the LF-LC and the LF-CC. They both took the automotive industry by storm with their distinct styling, but their individual design elements have been even further refined, advanced, and developed with the LF-NX.

For example, the front lights have a brand-new look. Three independent LED lighting units have been placed side by side to form one headlight component, just as on the LF-CC, but each unit has been developed into an L shape.

Lexus’s famous spindle grille has also received a more dynamic design treatment, which, along with the car’s bulging front fenders and 20-inch tires, has strengthened the vehicle’s frontal expression.

Graphically distinctive lines run from the front to the rear doors, creating a laser-sharp, lean appearance, while the rear fenders and see-through roof, with its gradual peak at the halfway mark between the B and C pillars, give it some visual strength—all combining to make the LF-NX stand out as the lean, muscular fighter that Tomatsu conceptualized.

Under the hood, a full hybrid drive system combines a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder Atkinson cycle gas engine with a powerful electric motor. At lower speeds, the LF-NX can operate under electric motor power alone, and the hybrid powertrain targets performance on par with conventionally powered rivals—while returning outstanding fuel efficiency.

In a continuation of the “Human Oriented” L-finesse design concept realized in both the LFA and 2014 IS, the interior mirrors the LF-NX’s highly sculpted exterior styling.

The center console extends the full length of the cabin to bisect the rear seats. The framework’s bright, brushed metal finish has also been applied to the driver’s instrument meters, the steering wheel, the seat structure, and the overhead console. Overall, says Tomatsu, the Lexus design team aimed for an ergonomic, driver-focused cockpit.

Lexus has clearly taken its bold design direction to the next level with the LF-NX, but the introduction of this new concept is significant for another reason: it’s Lexus’s first attempt to investigate the styling of a compact SUV.

“The compact SUV segment is very important for Lexus, because it appeals to those whom Lexus has yet to reach out to,” says Tomatsu. One-off, made-for-show cars are merely a design study, but this vehicle may very well create a new production spark in Lexus’s future lineup.