There is an argument out there, and quite a good one, that probably the most sensible car purchase, if one is of a certain privilege, is a Lexus, given Lexus’s dependability and overall comfort. Which means that we should pay some attention to what the Lexus of the future will look like.
That future was previewed Tuesday with the Lexus LF-Z Electrified. This is a concept car that loses the stupid grille of modern Lexuses while also managing to retain it in a way. I maintain that it looks better than any current Tesla, which is good because Lexus says the LF-Z Electrified “suggests the direction of the evolution of Lexus styling.”
Lexus says all of its cars will be electrified in some fashion by 2025, and Lexus further claims that it will be “carbon-neutral” by 2050. The LF-Z Electrified also has some kind of new all-wheel drive technology that I presume Lexus will introduce in real non-concept models at some point. It is basically traction control but better.
The new four-wheel drive force control technology, DIRECT4, allows the drive force of the high-torque motors to be controlled freely, enabling the vehicle’s posture to be finely controlled according to human senses and inputs. In addition, by controlling the front and rear drive wheels independently, the system can provide the appropriate drive system – e.g. front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, or all-wheel drive – for each driving situation. The system controls the distribution of driving force through the seamless orchestration and calculation of accelerator pedal application and steering wheel operation, resulting in powerful acceleration and exhilarating cornering performance that aligns near-perfectly to the driver’s will.
The platform is the familiar skateboard design that we’ve seen in almost every mass-produced electric vehicle.
By orienting the battery assembly longitudinally under the floor of the vehicle, the chassis becomes more rigid and the vehicle’s center of gravity is lowered for improved dynamics. In addition, this design helps mitigate vibrations and unpleasant noises from penetrating the passenger cabin. The Lexus DNA of quietness and ride comfort has evolved dramatically yet remains.
The interior, meanwhile, looks neat and simple enough. The steering wheel is all wrong but I only ever see steering wheels like this on concept cars.
To embody to an even higher degree Lexus’s human-centered approach, which has been the foundation of the Lexus-brand since its birth, the cockpit was designed based on the new concept of “Tazuna” (“tazuna” is Japanese for “rein”). Inspired by the relationship between horse and rider, who communicate through a single rein, steering wheel-mounted switches and the vehicle’s head-up display have been highly coordinated to create a space in which various functions, such as the navigation system, audio system, and driving mode selection, can be performed while concentrating on driving and without movement of the driver’s line of sight or need to operate complicated switches.
I would also be remiss if I didn’t point out the Tesla-like retractable door handles, which I hate and should be banned, since these things are only going to break.
One great way Tesla has influenced car design however? Enormous glass roofs.
The LF-Z Electrified has a range of 370 miles, which is more than enough. Will Lexus still be the consensus sensible choice by the time 2025? So far so good.