LEXUS has yanked the sheets from a concept called LF-1 Limitless, heralding a large crossover flagship that will join its ranks alongside the more serious all-terrain LX, as the Japanese car maker continues its ventures into high-rider territory.
Revealed in a frosty Detroit, the new design study previews a production model that will slot into the line-up offering a more driver-focused, on-road proposition at the high end, causing a headache for other luxo soft-roading newcomers such as the BMW X7 and Audi Q8.
While the Toyota Landcruiser-related Lexus LX offers some serious off-road credentials – including a low-range transmission, locking differential and transfer case – the concept shown in Motown points to a showroom model that aims to appeal to drivers who wish to stay on bitumen.
Powertrain details for the LF-1 are ambiguous at this stage with everything from “fuel cells, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, petrol or even all-electric” touted for the car, leaving the door open for production version variants.
Only a rear-drive chassis is mentioned at this stage however, compounding Lexus’ strategy to target driving enthusiasts with a new offering, while the LX continues to hunt the unbeaten path.
Measuring 5014m in length, 1986mm wide and 1605mm tall, the LF-1 is in the ballpark of the LX with the same width but 50mm lopped off its length and a significant 260mm taken from its height for a lower centre of gravity and boosted corner-carving ability.
No timing for a version you can buy has yet been made official but when the almost certain production car emerges, there will be no mistaking its trademark spindle grille, which threatens to envelop the entire nose with one of the largest iterations yet from Lexus.
Unlike some manufacturers, Lexus concepts are renowned for making the trip from drawing board to production line relatively unscathed so you can expect much of the radical design to surface in a showroom as soon as the car is confirmed – most likely with a different name.
Borrowing more DNA from a coupe or sedan than SUV, the LF-1 wears massive 22-inch wheels and is sculpted with exaggerated lines and features that thumb their noses to more subtle approaches from rival manufacturers.
A low roofline and wide stance promise driving dynamics akin to coupes, while headlights and tail lights have been whittled and chiselled into slender units that take the Lexus family look to an extreme new level.
The angular design of the NX concept has been toned down in place of more car-like proportions, including the long bonnet, short front overhang and longer cantilevered rear end.
Chrome-look trimming that features heavily in some previous concepts and current production Lexus designs has taken a back seat and the massive spindle grille is highlighted by LED lighting to ‘greet’ passengers.
A vast sunroof connects the windscreen to the rear window uninterrupted via a small canal that bisects the cleft roof spoiler for a unique exterior look while boosting the sense of interior space and light.
On the inside, driver controls and ergonomics borrow cues from the LC flagship coupe, with many mechanical knobs and switches usurped in favour of touchscreen and gesture controls for a cleaner cabin design.
An enveloping pod puts the driver centre stage with digital screens presented for maximum visibility, but other occupants are also treated to screens in the second row and miniature LEDs pinprick the interior surfaces with ambient lights.
All four separated seats have mock harness strap holes for a suggestion of racing intent, and the exterior bronze paint effect comes inside, complemented with Cocoa Bean and Chiffon White leather throughout.
As you might expect, Lexus mentions autonomous driving capability for the LF-1 concept and a Chauffeur mode that controls the by-wire steering, acceleration and braking more efficiently than a human can, says its maker.