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Paris show: Lexus downsizes with UX Concept

U-turn: Lexus has previously said it was not interested in going smaller than the NX SUV, but the UX Concept points to a possible new crossover contender.

Lexus could fill sub-NX crossover gap with production version of UX Concept


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30 Sep 2016

LEXUS has signalled its intention to expand its line-up into the ever-growing small SUV segment with its edgy UX concept at the Paris motor show this week.

While the Japanese luxury car-maker insists the UX is a design concept only at this stage, it highlighted the importance of Australia’s burgeoning crossover segment, suggesting that a production version is on the cards.

“Small SUV premium is one of Australia’s fastest growing automotive segments,” the company says in a release. “Young customers are upgrading in the quest for distinctive styling, a versatile interior and an engaging driving experience, while premium customers are looking to downsize without compromising on comfort, driving position and space.

“The UX Concept highlights the intention by Lexus to attract an ever-wider group of new, younger, ever-connected urban customers to the brand for the first time.”

If Lexus does give the green light for a production model, it would be positioned under its successful NX SUV and go head-to-head with the Audi Q2, Mini Countryman and other small premium crossovers.

Lexus Australia product PR and events manager Nick Raman told GoAuto that if a production model was to be made available, the car-maker’s local arm would be keen to introduce it.

“We would be very interested in the UX if it became available as a production vehicle,” he said.

As already reported, a production version of the UX could share its underpinnings with parent company Toyota’s forthcoming crossover, the C-HR, that is set to land in Australia early next year.

In fact, the UX has the same 2640mm wheelbase as the C-HR, but is 50mm longer, 20mm higher and 50mm wider than its Toyota cousin.

Penned at Lexus’ ED2 design centre in southern France, the four-seater UX is the next installation in the car-maker’s design language which has evolved in the current crop of models, most notably the RX and NX SUVs.

It features what Lexus describes as an “inside out” design and “deconstructed” interior styling and has low ground clearance and a coupe-like silhouette.

Lexus says the inside out theme is represented by the “X-shaped movement” of the fenders flowing into the cabin to form the housings for the camera mirror displays, while the dash top sits below these screens, forming the deconstructed look and improves forward visibility.

The UX introduces an evolution of the well known Lexus spindle grille, with the company reporting that the elements surrounding the grille, rather than just the grille itself, “creates the identity of the vehicle”.

A new ‘Immersive Amethyst’ paintwork with multi-layered depth was designed to emphasise the shape of the UX, “giving definition to the sculpture and expressing the car as a volume rather than simply a line-oriented design”.

The L-shaped daytime running lights are now positioned to pierce the main headlights – a shift from other Lexus models that have the DRLs sitting just below the lights, while the tail-lights are integrated into the spoiler and have a 3D signature.

Other unique touches include a transparent polycarbonate “see-through” A-pillar and a tyre design that uses a high-tech laser carving process to create two aspects.

Inside, the futuristic cabin houses Lexus’ spider web-like Kinetic Seat Design that the company revealed earlier this month, and the rear seating area has been styled to feel like a “welcoming, soft lounge sofa” that wraps around into the doors.

The lighting arrangement in the front of the cabin adds a premium feel, while there is more light in the rear, creating a more welcoming space.

The inside out theme extends to the instruments which have the appearance of being distant, but are actually close enough for the driver to easily see and reach when stationary.

Three-dimensional styling flourishes and digital controls are found inside, while all switchgear is electrostatic and housed under transparent covers.

There are no details of powertrains, but if the UX makes it to production, it could use Lexus’ 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine found in the IS, NX, RX and RC, as well as a hybrid setup.

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