Lexus has unveiled its latest concept, the Lexus LF-1 Limitless which is set to be its SUV flagship and a belated rival to the BMW X6 and Mercedes GLE Coupe.
Ditching the edgy design for a more fluid and upmarket styling, the LF-1 is said to look like “fusing the organic shapes of liquid (molten) metal with the sharp edges of a traditional Japanese sword”, and combine high performance with “unrestrained luxury”.
Based on Lexus’ recent track record, we wouldn’t be surprised if the production model closely resembles the concept.
“This is our vision for a new kind of flagship vehicle that embraces crossover capability without giving up the performance and luxury delivered by today’s top sedans,” said Kevin Hunter, president CALTY Design Research which created the concept.
The LF-1’s exaggerated dash-to-axle ratio (long bonnet, short front overhang) gives it an athletic profile that evokes classic grand touring cars. Combined with a cabin that sits deep within the rear-wheel-drive chassis and aggressive 22-inch wheels under bulging fenders, the LF-1 has a powerful stance that conveys its performance intentions at a glance. The low roofline and elevated ride height further emphasise that this is a crossover designed for performance with practicality.
Like all current Lexus models, the spindle grille on the LF-1 is a core element to the overall design. On the LF-1, it has been taken even further: details suggest that the start of the spindle forms at the rear of the vehicle, then continues forward toward the nose. The grille itself features a three-dimensional design with colours developed in-house by CALTY. Ridges radiating away from the central emblem suggest magnetism guiding metal filings into shape. There is no chrome, as the LF-1 instead uses LED lighting around the grille that greets you on arrival.
The Lexus LF-1 rear features a split roof spoiler and there are interesting curves and details along every inch of the rear fascia. The beautifully sculpted openings at each corner might look like exhaust pipes, but they’re actually vents for the air coming past the rear wheels. The shoulders above those wheels provide sturdy mounts for the sculptural taillights that extend well past the metalwork. Above the lights is the huge expanse of glass that extends over the rear seats to offer an uninterrupted view of the scenery thanks to the split spoiler on each side.
Luxurious comfort for every passenger was CALTY’s goal for the cabin. The LF-1 adheres to the Japanese tradition of omotenashi, or hospitality, welcoming all who enter with equal enthusiasm. The cockpit is designed to allow the driver to concentrate on the task at hand: distracting analogue knobs and buttons have been removed in favour of motion-activated controls and a minimalist display directly ahead. The front passenger space is far more open, with even fewer controls and a wide unobstructed dashboard. Those in back get the same seats as those in front with expansive legroom and individual display screens for adjusting the climate control or entertainment options.
The metallic interior trim is finished in the same tinted titanium colour as the exterior, but with a satin finish for a warmer feel. Accents around the instrument panel and on the steering wheel further enhance the cockpit feel for the driver. Additional metallic accents throughout the interior contrast with the dark Cocoa Bean leather trim and seats covered in Chiffon White perforated leather.
Lighting also plays a key role in the look and feel of the interior. Engaging the start button initiates a dramatic lighting sequence that differs depending on which of the several available driving modes is engaged. For a more subtle effect, the wooden door trim has tiny perforations that allow indirect light from miniature LEDs to shine in a variety of colours that complement the more direct overhead lights.
Lexus did not provide any details regarding the LF-1’s powertrain except saying: “like the name of the concept, the possibilities for powertrain are limitless”. Choices include everything from fuel cells to hybrid, plug-in hybrid, petrol or even all-electric.
The concept also previews a fully autonomous world with its Chauffeur mode, which allows for hands-free operation thanks to the vehicle’s by-wire steering, braking, acceleration, lights and signals.
For engaged driving, all powertrain controls are on the steering wheel to keep the driver focused on the road. Paddles mounted to the steering wheel control the transmission in manual mode for sporty driving while buttons on the lower section of the steering wheel engage standard drive mode options like park and reverse.
There is also a four-dimensional navigation system which builds on traditional systems by adding the element of time to the equation. It acts as a concierge for the occupants by anticipating the needs of the driver and passengers based on the progress, traffic and road conditions along the programmed trip, suggesting fuel stops, rest breaks and restaurants, even offering to make hotel reservations. Navigation and route information are displayed on the in-dash monitor, the rear seat entertainment screens, or wirelessly connected to passengers’ tablets and smart phones.
Touch-responsive haptic controls easily reached from the steering wheel link provide a seamless interface with the 4D navigation system and integrated comfort and entertainment systems. A touch-tracer pad embedded in the leather-covered centre console supports character recognition for data entry. An additional haptic controller in the rear-seat centre console allows passengers to make their own comfort and entertainment choices.