Lexus, small is beautiful
With the LBX, Toyota’s luxury brand launches an all-new crossover and enters another dimension
The Japanese car maker has succeeded in concentrating in a 4.20 metre long vehicle something that at the front and at the rear looks like a supercar, and then developing it into a compact crossover designed and built from the first to the last detail taking into account the tastes, preferences and tendencies of the European customer.
It is elegant and dynamic with its front end with a ‘resolute look’ that breaks with the hourglass grille. Then the long bonnet that is not monolithic, with unusual proportions for this type of car. Not to mention the rear end inspired by Japanese New Year rice cakes. A kind of magic that the Lexus men believe will turn the LBX into the brand’s best seller with over 24,000 units to be sold in 2024 in Europe.
Beyond philosophy, facts. The platform used is GA-B – a first for a Lexus – the same as the Yaris Cross. But get this kinship out of your head – it’s in the infrastructure and nothing else. In fact LBX is 6 cm wider (1.85 m), with 2 cm more wheelbase (2.58 m) and reduced overhangs. All of which gives it a truly significant road presence that makes it seem bigger than it is, adding a perception of a higher category. All this is also reflected in the interior where the “omotenashi” made in Japan, i.e. the typical Japanese capacity for hospitality, is expressed with a decidedly elegant and refined, albeit simple, no-frills dashboard. A dashboard characterised by two digital displays, one 12.3″ horizontal as the instrument panel and the other 9.8″ vertical for infotainment with the latest generation of Lexus Link Connect with anti-reflection coating. Not forgetting the safety package provided by the third-generation Lexus Safety+ with an upgrade for anti-collision functionality and control.
A hi-tech yet human-scale environment, perfectly in line with the route of the test drive of the new Lexus LBX in Valencia, between the Valencian enclave of Calatrava’s City of Sciences and Arts and the Albufera Natural Park. A route that was more urban than anything else, where we appreciated the car’s dynamic qualities and the responsiveness of the new 1.5-litre Lexus Premium Hybrid engine. A system that combines the combustion engine with 1 or 2 electric motors (depending on whether front or all-wheel drive) capable of developing a total of 136 hp/100 kW of power and 185 Nm of torque. We’re talking 17% more than identical units (the Yaris Cross generates 116 hp), thanks to the new, more compact and lighter transmission. And the power surplus is all felt in the acceleration that is entirely comparable to that of an electric car. The powertrain also features VVT-iE technology, the intelligent electronic variable valve timing that ensures a balance between fuel consumption (an average of 4.7/100 km in the combined cycle, i.e. more than 21 km to the gallon) and CO2 emissions (100 g/km). The battery is of the RX type, i.e. bipolar nickel-metal-hydride hybrid with high efficiency and charge density. Completing the picture of a truly balanced car are, on the one hand, the MacPherson suspension at the front and swinging arm suspension at the rear for the 4×4 (torsion bridge on the 2-wheel drive). On the other, the electronically controlled braking system with Vehicle Braking Posture Control, capable of automatically balancing front and rear brake force distribution.