It’s been a little over six months since the European launch of the 2016 Lexus RX. During that time, sales of this new model have exceeded expectations and have been instrumental in more than doubling Europe-wide sales.
So although the latest RX is becoming a more familiar sight, we’ve decided to take an insightful look at some of the key design elements you may not have appreciated before.
1. Spindle grille
The new Lexus RX adopts the latest spindle grille design. The grille has become a cosmetic hallmark of Lexus design innovation, which has evolved over the years. The re-imagined and increasingly passionate Lexus brand features a substantial development of the L-finesse design philosophy.
2. Gap consistency
For as long as cars have been manufactured, one of the areas that has always contributed to the perception of high quality and craftsmanship has been the width and consistency of panel gaps – the joins between body panels. RX panel gaps benefit from a revised method of folding over the body panels at their outer edges to create a tighter and more even finish.
In 1989, Laurent Fignon lost the Tour De France by eight seconds to Greg Lemond, the smallest winning margin in tour history.
Many attribute this victory to the hours spent in a wind tunnel which helped the team to identify areas that contributed to better aerodynamics and led to the last-minute decision to race with revolutionary time trial bars and a streamlined helmet.
These principles also apply to vehicle aerodynamic design. The new RX had ten separate sessions, resulting in these aerodynamic measures:
- Irregular three-dimensional structure
- Corner fins below its front corner lamps and within the floating C-pillar
- Rear spoiler to suppress lift
- Aero-stabilising fins in the rear lenses
4. F Sport seats
Like the IS and NX F Sport, RX F Sport has a front seat constructed using an integrated foaming method. This is where liquid foam is injected into the upholstery and allowed to set to reduce the likelihood of air pockets appearing between the foam and upholstery. The benefits of this is improved support and comfort, as well as an increase in the leather’s resistance to wear by cracking.
The Tahara leather used in Lexus F Sport models is our alternative to leather. It weighs half as much, generates 65 per cent less CO2 and gives off no volatile organic compounds.
5. Rear spindle shape
Not only do we want to create a sense of awe when people see us in their rear view mirror, we also want them to instantly recognise that the car in front of them is a Lexus.
We’ve seen the spindle theme echoed in the rear design of NX and IS, and it is now even more defined on RX as the waist is pinched between the rear combination lamps.
6. Illuminated hospitality
The ambience and feel good factor of a cabin can be greatly affected by the lighting. Poor lighting can cause eye fatigue and headaches if we spend a lot of time in that space, while dim lighting and harsh contrasts can cause us to strain our eyes.
At Lexus we try to anticipate the needs of our guests, and the task illumination employed within RX not only helps make our instruments highly visible but is a great example of Japanese hospitality or omotenashi.
7. Quality and craftsmanship
Every two minutes at the Lexus factory in Tahara, Japan, a shiny, new car rolls off the line. Assessors sporting black-and-white coveralls and soft white gloves carefully inspect every car, searching for any slight blemish. To reach this point, every vehicle has met the exacting standards of Lexus’s Takumi craftsmen.
There are ten master craftsmen who are the keepers of a longstanding and esteemed Lexus tradition – the single-minded pursuit of perfection. Takumi go about their work with pride and passion. Each one boasts at least 25 years of experience in the factory, where they have spent countless hours honing their skills and training themselves to detect the tiniest of imperfections.
They ensure that each individual part – a mind-boggling 30,000 that makes up every vehicle – is bolted together as precisely as the original blueprints, strictly checked, slightly adjusted and meticulously inspected. And not only do they keep the Lexus tradition alive by teaching skills, processes, and the industry’s highest quality standards, they themselves are also constantly learning, keeping an eye out for new ways to nudge their creations to even greater heights.
8. Human machine interface
Inside the racing car cockpit, there are many things to consider. The driver must be able to focus on the task at hand. That task is to drive as fast as possible and win the race.
There are many factors to continually consider during a race, such as the condition of the tyres, brakes, track surface, how close the nearest competitors are, the balance and handling of the car and how much time is left in the race.
What they don’t want to think of is where the controls are or how to position the seat. They don’t want to take their eyes off the track for a millisecond; it could cost them the race.
Obviously, we aren’t out to win races, but we’ve learnt a lot about creating the ultimate driving environment and have applied this to RX. What you need to see is at eye level, and everything you need to operate is close to hand. Everything is intuitive, reducing the need to take your eye off the road or having to stretch to access any controls.
9. Laser-cut wood
Yamaha has over 100 years of experience in creating products that are pleasing to the eyes and the ears of their customers. Our collaboration with Yamaha has lasted for over 25 years.
The laser-cutting technique used on the RX is new and unique to Lexus. Visually, it combines the contrasting elements of the rich expression of wood and the sharp texture of metal while also increasing the strength of the ornamentation panel.
Discover more: Yamaha piano makers apply their craft in the new Lexus RX
10. Mark Levinson
Mark Levinson wanted to bring studio sound quality to home audio equipment. It is said that there are only two ways to get a Mark Levinson system: buy a Lexus or buy a high-end home system.
For our RX, an acoustic lens in the speakers helps to spread the direction of the sound waves and create a wider stage so that rear seat passengers can also benefit from the awesome sound of the Mark Levinson package.
11. Phone storage
In the layout of the centre console, consideration was given to enabling easy access to the tray area, which features Qi wireless charging capability for compatible devices (and iPhones with a Qi charger case), as well as the usability of switches.
Originally, this was developed for the iPhone 5 but when the developers heard about the new larger size of the iPhone 6 Plus they increased the space to ensure it would fit.
12. Nanoe technology
Nanoe technology is built into the air conditioning system to eliminate odour, purify the air and moisturise the driver or passenger’s skin.
The system releases microscopic, negatively-charged ‘nanoe’ particles in the cabin. By attaching themselves to airborne particles, these ions help to purify the cabin air and effectively deodorise the seats and upholstery. Because of the high moisture content of nanoe ions, they display a healthy moisturising effect on your skin and hair.
The distinctive C-pillar treatment gives the roof line the illusion of it floating free of the rest of the body. It is one of the key design elements of new RX and the single biggest design differentiator from the third-generation RX.
In design clinics it was voted the favourite feature by both existing RX and non-Lexus customers.
14. Bumper design
To create clear differentiation between petrol, hybrid and F Sport variants, there are three different rear bumper designs:
- Hybrid has a wide metallic lower cover to complement the clean running associated with a hybrid vehicle
- Petrol models have dual diffusers for more emphasis
- F Sport has satin-finish chrome plating to accentuate the stance of the tyres
The stitching is simple and elegant but the work that goes into it is difficult. At the stitching dojo (training facility), the craftspeople practice by folding an origami cat with their non-dominant hand… in 90 seconds.
Stitching craftspeople are selected for their dexterity and painstaking attention to detail. So far, only 12 people have been entrusted with this work.
Find out more: Lexus RX wins place on best interiors list
16. Height-adjustable cup holder
The height-adjustable front cup holder was created in response to customer feedback and is a Lexus first. It features:
- Vertical sliding height adjustment mechanism
- Three-point support
- The cup holder bottom can be lowered by pressing it down with a plastic bottle
- The bottom can be raised by pressing the up button
17. Touch-less power back door
A touch-less power back door means you can open the tailgate by placing your hand or elbow over the Lexus emblem. The back door can be automatically closed by pressing the switch located on the bottom edge.
18. Removable wheel inserts
The 20-inch premium wheel has removable inserts that can be exchanged by the customer to suit their own design and style preferences. Available from launch are inserts in Sonic Titanium, Sonic White, Solid black and Copper Brown.