Thirty four years have passed since Lexus came on to the motoring scene with the LS400, a luxury saloon targeted at the best from Mercedes and BMW. It was a very impressive car which delivered comfort and style, best described as in a grand manner.
Many look at the brand as the upper tier of Toyota, but it has proved to be much more and a brand which has a huge following in the USA. Lexus can be rightly proud of a history of pushing boundaries and challenging the status quo; repeatedly having pioneered new thinking and new products that have changed people’s perceptions and reshaped the luxury car market. Yes and it has constantly evolved the concept of what luxury means, not just by creating desirable and exciting products, but also by redefining the complete ownership experience. Like so many car manufacturers, it has much emphasis on crossovers and SUVs delivering what the market demands.
A new model is always something to look forward to; enter the all-new, self-charging hybrid electric LBX, which just happens to be the smallest Lexus yet, but fully deserving of its status as a landmark model, one which breaks down the traditional luxury hierarchy and which will be a game changer for the brand across Europe. LBX stands for Lexus Breakthrough Crossover, a compact SUV that will extend Lexus’s brand appeal to a whole new customer market. It embraces contemporary ideas in design and technology while maintaining the distinguishing Lexus qualities of luxury and craftsmanship. The LBX makes no compromises in quality and attention to detail: the essence of Lexus has been distilled into a smaller package, transcending customers ’traditional expectations of what a premium compact SUV can offer.
The new model will be offered in different, refined, dynamic or sporty themes through styling details, colours, textures and finishes and it is a breakthrough for Lexus as a business in Europe as for the first time, Europe has been the lead global region for the development of a new vehicle. According to Lexus the use of a three-letter name is significant, previously only the LFA supercar has enjoyed that distinction. The design ambition was to create a car that is more relaxed than formal in character, displaying an authentic, effortless style that people will instantly feel a connection with. The most significant aspect of the design is a new frontal arrangement that breaks the spindle grille, a design hallmark for the past decade, leading Lexus into a new era. The front pillars have been pulled back, making the cabin appear compact and the bonnet longer for a sporty profile. The flared wings express power and accentuate the large wheels and tyres, while short overhangs and a bold tightening of the area around the rear doors evoke nimble, dynamic performance and the rear of the car also projects a strong stance. The LBX is 4,190mm long, 1,825mm wide and 1,545mm high and has a 2,580mm wheelbase.
Power is courtesy of a new generation, self-charging Lexus hybrid electric system featuring a compact and lightweight 1.5 litre three-cylinder engine. The principal hybrid system components have undergone a substantial redesign, including the transaxle and power control unit, to improve efficiency, reduce losses, save weight and reduce size. The technology developments have allowed Lexus to focus on more rewarding performance and a level of driving pleasure that was not possible with previous systems. Maximum output from the full hybrid system is 134bhp/100kW with peak torque of 185Nm. The NiMH battery is an all-new bi-polar unit with reduced weight and a more compact design, yet it delivers higher output with much quicker response. There will be the option of Lexus ’E-Four all-wheel drive, which introduces an additional electric motor on the rear axle. When pulling away, cornering and driving on low-grip surfaces, the system automatically directs drive force to the rear wheels, helping keep the vehicle stable. High levels of technology, really no surprise from this carmaker; LBX is equipped with the latest Lexus Link Connect system, operated via a 9.8 inch touchscreen. This system provides cloud-based navigation, optimising journey planning with real-time information on traffic events and delays and further convenience is provided by the “Hey Lexus” on-board assistant which responds to voice commands from both driver and front seat passenger. Returning to my memories of the LS400, which introduced me to then to the Mark Levinson sound, Lexus ’exclusive audio partner, and yet again has designed an optional premium system for this new car, featuring an array of 13 optimally positioned speakers. They include a subwoofer integrated in the back door, avoiding any loss of space in the load compartment.
If I have tempted you with the news of this baby Lexus, you will have to wait, as it will be March next year before it hits the road.