The Lexus LF-NX concept unveiled at this month’s Frankfurt Motor Show is the first mid-size SUV to receive the company’s L-finesse design language. But what exactly is ‘L-finesse’ and how does it manifest in their new crossover?
L-finesse is best described as ‘leading-edge design and technology applied with finesse’, where LF represents ‘Lexus future’ and NX stands for ‘nimble crossover’.
The LF-NX is targeted at a sector made notorious by the Range Rover Evoque, even though at 4,640mm long it’s closer in size to the BMW X3. It’s a market which should ideally suit the premium Japanese brand, with the full-size RX nowadays accounting for almost 40 percent of Lexus’ sales.
If the Evoque has proven anything, it’s that ‘bold’ styling appeals to buyers of fashion-conscious small(ish) SUVs. And whereas the RX suits a more conservative buyer, the NX is youthful, extrovert and designed to acquire downsizing customers from rival premium brands.
Lexus’ previous concept, the LF-CC, made it into production nearly intact – as the all-new IS, so there’s a good chance this NX will make it to a showroom near you very soon. Lexus have already trademarked the names NX 300h and NX 200t, which means a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine could be offered alongside the 2.5-litre full hybrid fitted to this LF-NX Concept.
Show me the finesse..
According to Lexus, the ‘finesse’ in L-finesse refers to the depth of thinking behind the car’s design, rather than the more conventional meaning of ‘subtlety’ or ‘delicacy’. It draws heavily on the principles of Japanese hospitality and aesthetics, which Lexus translate to mean anticipating a person’s needs and desires and delivering a premium experience through simplicity and elegance.
The LF-NX takes this thinking another step forward, with its frontal appearance dominated by a sizeable new interpretation of Lexus’ spindle grille. Subtle, it is not, but powerful, impressive and bold are all terms which suit especially when viewed along its flanks from front to rear.
Two key words sum up the car’s exterior design – concentrated and sharp.
But according to its designer, Nobuyuki Tomatsu, the LF-NX’s shape first and foremost conveys its dynamic appeal.
Most notable is the LF-NX’s diamond shape, starting with its spindle grille and flaring out over the car’s body. The effect is further amplified by the car’s muscular wheel arches and unique corner styling, with aggressive edges defining the car’s silhouette.
Three-dimensional rear lights are a new development for Lexus, and create an instantly identifiable light signature, while the front features independent Daytime Running Lights (DRL) with turn signals represented by full-length LED strips.
In fact, as you can probably guess, the LF-NX is more than just an SUV concept, and is being used to showcase many of the brand’s latest innovations which either have been released (as in the DRLs on the new IS) or will be introduced in future cars.
While the exterior may seem a little fussy, the interior delivers on the simple, elegant theme which is core to the L-finesse philosophy. From surface materials to touch-sensitive switches, the inside of the LF-NX conveys an effortless premium feel by eliminating the excess.
The dashboard is divided between two levels – an upper display zone and lower operation zone featuring a new generation of interactive features. While blue instrument and switchgear lighting contrasts with the concept car’s yellow and black leather upholstery.
The centre console extends the full length of the cabin, bisecting the rear seats, while elsewhere the new Remote Touch Interface (RTI) uses a touch screen control and tracer display to improve convenience and ease of use.
There’s more to the LF-NX than first meets the eye. Some of the aggression might be toned down a bit by the time it reaches production, but its muscular curves are key to its dynamic stance, as is its coupé-like profile.
When the current RX was relaunched in 2013, Lexus worked hard to improve its driver appeal. When the NX reaches production, all excuses will be over. By Spring 2014 BMW will have launched the X4, pitching it against Porsche’s soon-to-be-launched Macan. If Lexus wish to be taken seriously, then the NX needs to drive as confidently as it looks.
Hopefully by then L-finesse will have moved beyond the aesthetics of its design and reflect the fine-tuning of its chassis.
If you’d like to find out more about the Lexus LF-NX Concept, learn more about the brand’s L-finesse design philosophy or explore other models in the range, visit the Lexus UK website.
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