Lexus has a proud history of pushing boundaries and challenging the status quo. Since its founding in 1989, it has repeatedly pioneered new thinking and new products that have changed people’s perceptions and reshaped the luxury car market. 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.
Its record of achievement today welcomes a new name: the Lexus LBX.
The all-new, all-hybrid electric LBX is 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 in Europe.
LBX stands for Lexus Breakthrough Crossover, a compact SUV that will extend Lexus’ brand appeal into new market territory. It embraces contemporary ideas in design and technology while maintaining the distinguishing Lexus qualities of the luxury craftsmanship and Omotenashi hospitality.
This is a car that’s simple, casual and easy to live with, but which 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.
It also breaks new ground by disrupting the traditional grade strategy to give owners more freedom to express their individual taste and sense of style. True to Lexus’ commitment to “making luxury personal,” the LBX will be offered in a choice of four “atmospheres” in addition to its base grade. Rather than being defined by the level of equipment or comfort features, these atmospheres focus on expressing different refined, dynamic or sporty themes through styling details, colours, textures and finishes. A new Lexus Bespoke Build programme will offer yet more personalised options.
The LBX is also a breakthrough for Lexus as a business in Europe. For the first time, Europe has been the lead global region for the development of a new Lexus vehicle. This influence will help the LBX become one of the best-sellers for the brand in Europe.
The use of a three-letter name is significant – previously only the LFA supercar has enjoyed that distinction. The choice of the name LBX demonstrates Lexus’ commitment to and trust in its new model. Just as the LFA showed a different side to the brand in terms of attitude and performance, so the LBX will in its own way expand its reach and profile.
As a new entry point to Lexus’ well-established SUV line-up, it offers strong appeal to a younger audience and those who may not have considered a Lexus before. It will be an attractive proposition to those seeking to downsize or purchase a second vehicle, meeting their new lifestyle requirements.
Chief Engineer Kunihiko Endoh comments: “Our aim was to challenge the conventional concept of a luxury car. We have thoroughly pursued a driving experience that enables a natural dialogue between the driver and their vehicle and a design that has an refined presence.”
The LBX’s styling establishes a new Lexus identity with a “Resolute Look” front design that reinterprets the famous spindle grille. While the exterior dimensions are more compact than any other Lexus, the look is muscular and powerful. Inside, the emphasis is on driver-engagement with a focused driver’s cockpit based on Lexus’ Tazuna concept, and on creating a light, open feel with excellent visibility and an instrument panel that wraps around smoothly into the door panels.
In doing things differently with the LBX, Lexus has taken a new approach to building a model range, introducing choices that better reflect how today’s customers seek cars that match their personal style and character.
Following its world debut, the LBX will go into production in late 2023. Sales will begin in European and selected global markets from early 2024.
Lexus’ 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.
Koichi Suga, General Manager Lexus Design, explains: “We have ‘deconstructed’ the spindle grille to make way for a new design. We’ve succeeded in creating a new front face identity that’s completely different from before yet is instantly recognisable as a Lexus.”
The grille has been unified in a single trapezoid shape, positioned below a narrow aperture that runs beneath the leading edge of the bonnet, linking the slim headlight units. The design draws on the heritage of Lexus’ “Resolute Look.” Introduced with the LF-S concept car of 2003, this became a signature styling cue for Lexus production models from the early 2000s.
The seamless, frameless grille generates the lines of the LBX’s spindle body, contributing to the car’s strong, dynamic stance. It is also aerodynamically efficient, helping smooth airflow over and around the car. The new headlight design creates a strong visual signature, with the daytime running lights and turn indicators integrated in bi-functional units. With this new arrangement, the lights’ distinctive L-shape has been changed to face out rather than inwards, to match the direction of each indicator light.
Following the principles of Lexus Next Chapter Design, the car’s identity and proportions are rooted in the driving experience it delivers. 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 (18-inch) wheels and tyres, while short overhangs and a bold tightening of the area around the rear doors evoke nimble, dynamic performance.
The rear of the car also projects a strong stance. The licence plate has been moved down to the bumper so that the LEXUS lettered signature on the back door is more prominent on the clean expanse of the back door. Similarly, the latest evolution of the Lexus signature L-shaped light bar has greater visual impact, with the turn signal and reversing lamps having a subdued presence when not illuminated.
The LBX is 4,190 mm long, 1,825 mm wide and 1,545 mm high and has a 2,580 mm wheelbase. The low-slung bonnet, belt mouldings flush with the body, a gate-style rear roof spoiler and precise light cluster designs enhance aerodynamic performance and contribute to the LBX’s efficiency, stability and responsive performance.
The exterior colour choices include vivid shades and Lexus’ deep-lustre sonic finishes. Emotion and Cool versions of the LBX can be specified with bi-tone paintwork, combining any colour option with a contrast black roof.
The LBX is the first Lexus model to be constructed on a variation of the GA-B small car global architecture platform. It has been fundamentally adjusted to meet Lexus requirements, giving it the core benefits of a low centre of gravity, wide tracks, short overhangs and a highly rigid body. It is also the foundation of the car’s fun-to-drive character, helping secure the Lexus Driving Signature in the smallest package yet. This helps create a natural dialogue between driver and car that ensures confidence, control and comfort at all times.
Chief Engineer Endoh explains: “To realise the Lexus sense of being at one with the car, we worked to achieve nimble driving that maximises the benefits of the car’s small size and light weight. At the same time, we focused more than ever on honing the fundamental characteristics without relying on electronic controls.”
The body is strengthened with structural adhesives and short-pitch welding, and strategic placing of bracing and reinforcements. At the same time, vehicle weight has been kept down by the use of lightweight materials, including an aluminium bonnet and moulded resin wheel arches, rockers and lower door sections. Strong yet light hot-stamped materials are used in the centre pillars and bumper reinforcement.
Setting the hip-point as low as 285 mm helps make the driver feel more at one with their vehicle, while maintaining an excellent view from the wheel, particularly when driving in city traffic.
Front and rear suspension systems are designed for high rigidity and light weight, giving the LBX agile, stable cornering and steering response with smooth ride comfort. All versions feature a MacPherson strut design at the front; front-wheel drive models use a rear torsion beam while the all-wheel drive LBX has a double-wishbone arrangement.
The electronically controlled braking system includes Vehicle Braking Posture Control. This automatically balances front and rear brake force distribution to suppress pitching and maintain linear, reassuring performance. It also helps reduce vehicle roll when cornering, keeping the car comfortable and stable and filtering out vibrations.
The LBX is powered by 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. There is also a new low resistance, high output, bi-polar nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery which enables extra electric motor support when accelerating and extends the car’s all-electric EV driving capability.
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 136 DIN hp/ 100 kW with peak torque of 185 Nm.
The engine operates with world-class thermal efficiency, supported by high-speed combustion technology and design features such as straight intake ports and laser-clad intake valve seats. Other key features include ultra-lightweight pistons engineered for operation at high rpm and electronic intelligent variable valve-timing.
The powertrain also features a newly designed transaxle. The revised power control unit is mounted directly above the transaxle, a design which helps give the LBX a low bonnet line. Further space is saved by the two motor-generators being located on separate shafts, reducing the drivetrain’s overall length.
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. Thus, it contributes to the LBX’s performance with instant, powerful acceleration like that of battery electric vehicle, as well as its fuel efficiency. It benefits from a redesigned cooling system to help prolong battery life and performance.
The powertrain is tuned for enjoyable performance, whether driving around town or on winding country roads, with faithful handling and a linear acceleration feel that is more closely aligned to the driver’s use of the accelerator pedal. Drivability is also enhanced by Hybrid System Control that closely matches engine sound and acceleration. Thanks to the hybrid system upgrades, all-electric EV driving can be enjoyed at higher speeds and over longer distances, maximising the LBX’s efficiency.
The LBX’s authentic SUV quality includes 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 and maintaining driver confidence.
The LBX’s luxury status is witnessed by the lengths Lexus has gone to manage noise and vibration (NVH). These include adding a balancer shaft to the engine to reduce vibration that can generate a booming effect in the cabin. Special attention has been paid to the doors where damping sheets have been introduced to suppress high frequency noise but enhance low frequency noise to give a distinct and pleasing sound. To counter vibration and road noise from the roof, high-damping mastic has been used together with an extensive silencer made of a highly effective insulating material. Other measures include a seal around the entire edge of the bonnet and noise insulating and absorbing sheets, liners, mouldings and foam in key areas throughout the car. Beneath the vehicle, high-damping and structural adhesives play their part in reducing noise and vibration, while also contributing the car’s overall rigidity.
Lexus designers sought to create a simple and refined interior that creates the feel and atmosphere of a higher segment model. This effect is founded on three key elements: good visibility with an open view out and a simple, smooth instrument panel; the sense of wide interior space; and a centre console with a commanding presence.
The premium quality and attention to detail is witnessed in a choice of upholsteries and trims with strong visual and tactile appeal. As well as top-quality semi-aniline leather, the options include a vegan-friendly interior that uses synthetic leather and materials for the seat coverings and steering wheel, shift lever and door trims. The LBX also features new Tsuyusami charcoal trim inlays, created using a new film technique that uses multiple layers to give a highly textured appearance with a sense of depth. Ambient lighting adds to the Omotenashi effect of people being made welcome and feeling completely at home in the vehicle. Highlighting different parts of the cabin, the lighting design provides a range of 50 colour options, curated in themes that evoke different moods.
The driver’s cockpit is an interpretation of Lexus’ Tazuna concept, first introduced on the NX mid-size SUV. This positions principal controls and information sources immediately around the driver, so their operation only requires minimal movements of hand or eye. This helps keep the driver focused on the task of driving, with least distraction. The position and angle of the steering wheel were precisely calculated to give the driver a rewarding sense of control.
Here, the Tazuna concept is enhanced with a new, 12.3-inch fully digital instrument display, featured in a Lexus for the first time. The lay-out and prominence of the meters and data change according to the drive mode selected and can be customised to suit individual preferences. An optional head-up display is also available.
Thanks to the LBX’s compact size, almost every inch of the car can be seen from the steering wheel, adding to the confidence, comfort and control the driver enjoys with the Lexus Driving Signature. The contouring of the bonnet and the shape and position of the front pillars reduce the blind sports and give an extended downward view that helps the driver steer more precise lines.
To help maintain a wide, clear view, the horizontal instrument panel has a clean and simple design. At each side, its form flows into the door panel, giving a sense of wrapping around the front seat occupants, so the feel is expansive yet encompassing. The continuous line created by this design also helps the driver sense the degree of vehicle roll when driving through bends. A low hip-point adds to the driver’s sense of being at one with their car, while ample front knee-space is provided. To ensure a good view out for everyone on board, the rear seats are set slightly higher than those at the front.
The centre console has a strong presence with the large multimedia touchscreen tilted back so that it integrates smoothly with the structure. The unit has upholstered side pads and houses two cupholders and multiple storage points and USB ports for device connection and charging. The load compartment offers up to 332 litres (FWD models with rear seats in place) of space – room enough for two 75-litre cases to be carried beneath the folding tonneau cover.