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French fancy: Lexus UX crossover concept revealed

Published: 03 October 2016

 Lexus UX concept car shown
 It’s another crossover show car
 See it at the Paris motor show 

Lexus has been good value for motor show concepts for several years now – and the UX crossover SUV that’s on display at the 2016 Paris motor show is no exception. With what’s described as an ‘inside out’ design philosophy it tries to link the exterior with the interior, while aiming to put the driver at the centre of the experience.

Sounds daft, and probably is – but given Lexus’s recent track record for putting its concepts into production it seems likely the UX concept represents the first step towards a new compact crossover showroom model below the NX, which was itself only introduced in 2014 and is now the brand’s European best-seller...

So what’s the inside-out business

Lexus says it’s tried to give the UX a ‘visible skeleton’. As such, the wheelarches, roof bars and door cameras (obviously it has door cameras – no self-respecting concept has rear-view mirrors any more) are all finished in the same material in an effort to create a kind of ‘bone structure’.

2016 Lexus UX concept

The roof bars even penetrate the cabin to create the A-pillar structure – the pillar itself is made from transparent polycarbonate – then re-emerge to form the door camera mountings. Similarly, the daytime running lights ‘pierce’ the headlights.

It seems to be a lot less… angular than the NX

Very true. In contrast to every other premium manufacturer, Lexus has consciously decided to give each of its models an individual identity. You might cynically suggest the smoother look of the UX concept is a reaction to the divisive media response to the look of the NX – but we remind you that hasn’t stopped the NX becoming its best-selling model.

Such is the reduction in what it calls ‘character lines’ Lexus has turned to the multi-layered ‘Immersive Amethyst’ (we swear, that’s what they’ve called it) paint job to help define the exterior.

2016 Lexus UX concept

That exterior is supposed to be ‘reminiscent of a classic sports car’. We’re not so sure about that, but with a low-slung driving position, the UX has a driver focus that’s currently absent from the Lexus SUV range.

The trademark Lexus spindle grille has also undergone treatment, being bigger and more aggressive than we’ve seen before.

Presumably it’s even crazier on the inside?

Yup. The designer’s have gone with a ‘deconstructed’ theme, which from some angles makes it look like it’s been pictured in the midst of an explosion. The front is dark, to focus the driver, while the rear is white in an effort to be welcoming; it has soft, sofa-style seating back there, too.

2016 Lexus UX concept

The front seats deploy the Lexus Kinetic Seat Concept, which means mesh-like chairs that move with the car in a faintly eerie fashion. Again this is supposed to increase driving involvement.

The instrumentation uses projection and a transparent globe ‘that floats like a hologram’. Because concept car. There’s a removable sound-bar, too – an effort to interest younger people in the Lexus brand. 

Click here for more news and features from Paris 2016

By CJ Hubbard

Former CAR magazine associate editor, road tester, organiser, extremely variable average wheel count

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