Published on March 7th, 2018 | by Subhash Nair0
The Lexus UX Gets Fully Fleshed Out at the Geneva Motor Show
Lexus hosted the world debut of the new Lexus UX at the 2018 Geneva Motor show, a free-spirited crossover crafted expressly for the modern urban explorer who seeks a fresh, contemporary and dynamic take on a luxury lifestyle.
The Lexus UX is a new gateway vehicle for Lexus, it is rich in the qualities that define the brand: brave design, superior craftsmanship, exhilarating performance and imaginative technology.
Led by Chief Engineer Kako and Chief Designer Tetsuo Miki, the development teams have worked closely to produce a car in which the exterior and interior appear almost seamlessly linked. Powerful bodywork, notable for its impressively flared front and rear wings, clothes a cabin that provides a driver-focused cockpit and an open, relaxing space for passengers. While still offering a commanding view from the steering wheel, the UX offers a driving position that makes the crossover feel more like a responsive hatchback to drive, rather than an SUV.
The Lexus UX further marks a series of technical innovations, including the first use of the new global architecture platform named GA-C, which delivers fundamental high structural rigidity and a low centre of gravity, thus securing excellent ride quality and stability. New powertrains are also deployed for the first time: a new 2.0-litre petrol engine that reaps the performance and fuel economy benefits of high thermal efficiency; and a new mid-power, fourth generation self-charging hybrid system.
Lexus has produced a design for the UX that expresses the sense of security that is expected of a crossover, but which equally communicates agility and a fun-to-drive quality with sleek, attractively condensed appearance. The result is a model with a unique identity in its segment that makes a strong and appealing design statement. There was close collaboration among all team members, resulting in a harmonious shape that almost seamlessly links the inside and outside of the car.
The aim for the Lexus UX was not to conform to the established, solid crossover look, but to achieve a compact design that is both strong and stylish, breaking with the conventions of the segment to deliver something more distinctive and dynamic.
This design approach can be seen at work in the way the front and rear wings flare strongly outwards in relation to the car’s basic form, which flows out from the lines of the spindle grille to envelop the cabin. The meticulously formed exterior surfaces are simple but captivating, expressing strength and dynamism.
At the front, the arrangement of the headlights and the spindle grille are incorporated into a deep, strong shape created by the hood and bumper to generate a sense of security. At the rear, a condensed styling treatment contrasts sharply with the flared wings to emphasise the UX’s dynamic and strong crossover qualities.
Details include daytime running lights, arranged in an arrowhead motif above the headlights to emphasise the Lexus L-shaped illumination signature. The spindle grille has a new block-shape mesh pattern with individual elements that gradually change in shape as they radiate out from the central Lexus emblem, giving a three-dimensional look that changes according to the angle of view.
The rear combination lamps have an original and advanced design that is not only eye-catching but also aerodynamically efficient while improving vehicle handling. The right and left units are connected by a continuous, single line of light across the back door to give the UX’s rear a unique appearance. Formed by a sequence of 120 LEDs, this tapers gently towards the centre, measuring just 3mm thick at its narrowest point. This design is set to become a world-first Lexus signature feature.
Four new aluminium wheel designs have been produced for the UX, with 17 and 18-inch diameters. The five-spoke 17-inch wheels have a world-first aerodynamic design, details of which are given in the Imaginative Technology section below.
Dimensions and packaging
The Lexus UX measures 4,495mm long, 1,520mm high and 1,840mm wide and has a 2,640mm wheelbase. An 870mm couple distance ensures ample space for rear seat passengers, while the load area is a generous 791mm long.
The car’s proportions allow for excellent manoeuvrability, with a best-in segment 5.2m turning radius. For the driver, a reduced distance between the hip and heel points gives the feel of driving a hatchback rather than an SUV-type vehicle.
The interior of a car is the place where the driver and the car connect. As such,the designers sought to eliminate the boundary between exterior and interior, creating a seamless continuity. The effect gives the driver an excellent field of vision with a clear sense of the vehicle’s body dimensions.This concept is most evident from the driver’s seat, where the upper section of the instrument panel appears to extend out beyond the windscreen. Conversely, seen from outside, the hood looks as though it connects directly to the instrument panel. This is inspired by a traditional Japanese concept which blurs the boundary between the inside and outside of a house.
The human-centred approach extends to the design of the UX’s interior, with a “seat-in-control” concept that focuses operation of all the principal vehicle functions around the driver’s side of the cabin.
At the same time, this helps create a more relaxing atmosphere around the passenger space. The instrument panel has a low, unobtrusive design and the slim A-pillar mouldings have been shaped to improve visibility and give the kind of commanding outward view that is expected of a crossover.
The human-centred design thinking included paying particular attention to the appearance and ease of use of the centre console that integrates audio switches into a palm rest. The seatback shape has been defined to make operation of controls possible while maintaining a comfortable, natural posture.
Getting in and out of the vehicle has been made easier and more comfortable through optimal placing of the hip-point, a cut-off profile for the rocker panel below the doors and shaping of the seat cushion.
The superior craftsmanship that defines Lexus vehicles is evident both in the overall high build quality of the new UX – built at Lexus’ Kyushu factory, home also to production of the CT, NX and RX models – and in fine detailing, such as the application of different, unique finishes in the cabin.
Sashiko leather quilting
The smooth leather upholstery available for the UX is inspired by sashiko, a traditional Japanese quilting technique that is also used in the making of judo and kendo martial arts uniforms. The quilted leather is decorated with new perforation patterns that form mathematical curves and gradations in perfect alignment, enhancing the appearance of the seats.
Ornamentation inspired by Japanese paper grain
The Lexus UX’s sweeping instrument panel covers a large area, connecting the driver and passenger sides of the vehicle. This provides an opportunity to accentuate the atmosphere of the cabin using fine-quality ornamentation, with a choice of two grain patterns and four colours.
The Lexus UX is the first Lexus model to offer a new trim grain finish that’s inspired by the grain of Japanese paper, known as washi, familiar in traditional Japanese homes. Created using slush-moulding and a carefully chosen surface finish, it evokes a calm and warm feeling.
A leather grain finish is also available, shared with the LC coupe and LS flagship sedan and building a consistency of quality across the Lexus brand.
The UX has been engineered to deliver “elegant performance with peace of mind” consistent in all Lexus models. The foundation is the new global architecture platform named GA-C, used for the first time in a Lexus.
Two new powertrains make their debut: a new, fourth generation self-charging hybrid system with 178 DIN hp/131kW and the choice of front wheel drive or E-Four in the UX 250h; and a new 2.0-litre petrol engine with high thermal efficiency, available with a new Direct Shift continuously variable transmission in the UX 200.
Suspension, steering and tyres have also all been developed to support Lexus’ dynamic and performance ambitions for the UX.
First use of new global architecture platform named GA-C
The Lexus UX is the first Lexus to be constructed using the new global architecture platform named GA-C, the foundation for the car’s dynamic performance. Its development focused on giving the UX nimble and instant response to the driver’s inputs, while communicating a sense of stability and safety.
The platform allowed for an increase in rigidity, including a high-tensile and ring structure around the rear and back door openings. Highly rigid adhesive and Laser Screw Welding have been used in key locations, greatly enhancing overall rigidity.
The Lexus UX has the lowest centre of gravity of any vehicle in its class, thanks to the design of the GA-C platform. This characteristic, central to the car’s fine ride and handling quality, is also supported by weight-saving measures in the body construction, including the use of lightweight aluminium for the side doors, fenders and hood, as well as a resin material for the back door.
MacPherson strut front suspension and a double wishbone arrangement at the rear have been designed and tuned to promote ride comfort and sharp response. Special attention has been paid to shock absorber performance and the quality of the damper oil, oil seals and friction control.
An Electric Power Steering system with a new compact and highly rigid column assist has been adopted for the UX, with a larger diameter column shaft. This supports handling with crisp, immediate response to driver inputs, with good steering feel.