As a correspondent for Club LEXUS Russia, I attended the European premiere of the new Lexus LX and, on behalf of the club, asked questions to the creators of this car - chief engineer Sadayoshi Koyari and chief designer Hiroyuki Metsugi.
The new LX is nominally a new model of the premium brand. In fact - a deep and thoughtful restyling of the previous generation, produced since 2007. According to President Hidenori Ozaki, the new LX expresses power and luxury by embodying L-Finesse technology - human-centered design. But for the Russian consumer, it is equally important that the big Lexus finally has a diesel engine. However, first things first.
The wheelbase and basic geometric parameters - the angle of entry, exit and ground clearance - remained unchanged, but outside and inside the LX has changed beyond recognition, despite the constancy of the overall proportions.
The exterior has become more aggressive - following the NX and RX, the big Lexus tried on the "evil" grin of the grille and the squint of adaptive LED headlights.
Key changes to the interior are the visual zoning of the dashboard.
At the top, the information displays are concentrated: measuring 4.2 inches in the center of the instrument cluster, a large central display at 12.3 inches in the center of the console, and an optional ten-inch head-up display in front of the driver.
For the first time in the LX, an analogue clock appeared on the panel, the case of which is made of a single piece of aluminum.
The lower area of the dashboard contains all the controls that include the new Climate Concierge and Drive Mode Select systems.
The first provides automatic control of not only four-zone climate control, but also steering wheel heating, heating and ventilation of all seats.
Chief Project Engineer Koyari-san also points out that the LX is the first Lexus to feature rear-seat occupancy sensors. The seats themselves are new, with improved profile and support. If desired, they can be moved forward and backward within a range of 89 mm.
Greater comfort levels in the new LX are also achieved through the use of additional noise insulation. At the disposal of rear passengers - individual multimedia screens with a diagonal of 11.6 inches instead of the previous seven-inch, as well as two sets of wireless headphones and a climate control unit in the center armrest.
The 19-speaker Mark Levinson Reference Surround multimedia system, available in the "top-end" trim levels, provides a new level of sound.
The Drive Mode Select system, familiar from Lexus cars, allows the driver to choose the preferred driving style - ECO, Normal, Comfort, Sport S, Sport S +, as well as an individual Customize mode.
Two engines were registered under the hood of the new LX. This is a traditional 5.7-liter V8 petrol engine (367 hp and 530 Nm), mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission. With this engine, the LX is ready to hit 220 km / h. and accelerates to a hundred in 7.7 s.
As we wrote earlier, specifically for the Russian market, the fourth priority for Lexus in the world and the first in Europe, the company introduced a diesel modification for the first time in its history.
The power plant of the Lexus 450d produces 272 hp. and 650 Nm (in a wide range from 1600 to 2800 Nm). Acceleration dynamics - 8.6 s to 100 km / h, maximum speed - 210 km / h. Compared to a similar engine on the Toyota Land Cruiser 200, which develops 249 hp, the engine and 6-speed transmission received new settings, as well as additional noise isolation, which made the ride more dynamic and comfortable.
The engineers paid special attention to the safety of the new LX. The new Lexus Safety System + includes a full suite of collision avoidance tools, including automatic braking, traffic sign recognition, driver fatigue monitoring, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and more.
In terms of off-road driving, the underbody projection mode is useful - as well as the already well-known Multi Terrain Monitor and Crawl Control speed limiting systems, as well as off-road turning assist and center differential lock.
The previous generation LX 570 owners also complained about the lack of braking performance. The diameter of the front brake discs has been increased to 354 mm from the previous 340 mm, and the hydraulic settings have been changed.
The cost of both diesel and petrol versions of the new LX starts at 4,999,000 rubles. The "base" of the Standard equipment includes a large multimedia display and an extensive range of functions - from hydropneumatic suspension with adjustable height and all-round visibility system, to wireless charging for a Qi smartphone and ten airbags.
The "petrol" Premium grade (5,446,000 rubles) adds to the set of options an adaptive head light, a monitoring system for blind spots, a Safety System Plus complex, seats of the first and second row with ventilation and heating, as well as the Mark Levinson multimedia system.
In the Luxury configuration (5,776,000 rubles), the car is equipped with 285 / 50R20 wheels, as well as multimedia displays and rear seat ventilation. The Luxury 8S version (5,832,000) is equipped with three rows of seats. The rear row folds in a 50:50 ratio using an electric drive. The top version of the Luxury 21 with 21-inch wheels and improved finishing materials will cost at least 5,790,000 rubles.
The configurations of the diesel version are poorer - even in the "top" 18-inch wheels are installed, there are no rear displays, no third row of seats, or an additional tank. There is not even a sunroof. The Executive grade (5,242,000 rubles) is distinguished by the presence of roof rails, paddle shifters and a heated steering wheel. The Executive 1 (5,354,000 rubles) gets a 10-inch head-up display, while the Executive 2 (5,344,000 rubles) boasts ventilated second-row seats.
In addition to new options, the updated LX received two new body colors (now there are seven) and two new interior colors (their total has grown to four).
Orders for the new LX are open at all Lexus dealerships, with delivery of the first vehicles scheduled for November 2015.
I asked representatives of the Lexus brand - chief engineer Sadayoshi Koyari and chief designer Hiroyuki Metsugi to answer the questions of the Lexus club in more detail. John Thomson, managing director of Toyota Motor LLC for sales and marketing of Lexus in Russia, and Albina Chamsulvaraeva, PR manager of Toyota Motor LLC, also took part in the conversation.
AA: The Russians, our readers, have long and patiently waited for the diesel LX. And now, it happened! Therefore, the first of the questions is based on the previous answer of Mr. Templin, given by him in the last interview to Lexus Club. Mark Templin said the LX is heavily focused on the American market. Where there is no such demand for diesel cars. Therefore, whoever wants to, let him buy a diesel Land Cruiser 200. What has changed, what is still the reason for the creation of a diesel version?
SK: The main reason is that we listened to the wishes of our clients, for us this is the most important thing. As you rightly said, the frame structure and diesel engine make the LX akin to the Land Cruiser 200. Initially, we had no plans to create a diesel modification. As you know, it is Lexus policy that our cars have gasoline or hybrid engines. But as I said earlier, we listened to consumers who were hungry for a diesel LX, and so we decided to take this step anyway.
DT: I met with Mark Templin a few weeks ago. The Russian market is also very important for Mark. Last year, Russia is the fourth largest market for Lexus. USA, China, Japan and behind them - Russia. This is the largest market for us in Europe. He is very important to us. In recent years, consumers in Russia have changed, as have their attitude towards diesels. Our engineers, including Mr. Koyari, spent a lot of time in Russia before we introduced the diesel LX to the public.
AA: Why are the LX diesel configurations poorer than the gasoline ones? For example, there is no additional tank. This is a huge disappointment for many clients, especially long distance travel enthusiasts!
AC: The fact is that a diesel engine is much heavier than a gasoline engine. In order to certify the diesel version in Russia and Europe, we had to meet the weight limits. For this reason, we had to abandon a number of options. There's no third row of seats, no extra tank, no luggage compartment cover, no panoramic roof, 18-inch wheels, and no infotainment screens in the second row. In all other respects, the diesel LX is not inferior to the configuration of the gasoline version.
AA: Door closers. Competitors have them. The doors of the LX are large and heavy, the SUV is large and high-profile. What is the reason for their absence?
SK: The main reason is that the new LX is a revised car from the previous generation. We did not change the whole car design, and this is the reason for the lack of this option.
AA: One of the most popular custom tweaks to the former LX in Russia was the ineffective braking system. The stock brakes quickly overheated and lost their effectiveness. Has the braking system been improved in the new generation? We have seen that the diameter of the front brake discs has been changed from 340 mm to 354 mm. Is that all?
SK: Indeed, very often our customers complained about the insufficient efficiency of the braking system. All this information was also passed on to us, and we tried to improve the brakes in the new model. As you rightly said, the size of the brake discs has been increased from 340 to 354 mm, the mechanical part (brake pedal) and settings and hydraulics have also been changed to provide more powerful deceleration.
AA: There are huge distances in Russia and not always good roads. Many people use LX in our country with a driver, for long trips in the back seat. And the LX is often chosen as a car for the driver in the city. Why is there no version for such clients, because there are a lot of them? In addition to the rear seats with adjustable leg support, it would be possible to make a hatch in the front passenger seat for the passenger's feet. Built-in massage and other options. Hundreds of customers pay tens of thousands of dollars for this to third-party companies to redesign the LX salon. Or they generally choose another brand, where it is from the factory.
SK: Of course we think about it, but it's not that simple. First, the limited budget that we have to fit into when developing a new model. Alternatively, we are considering the possibility of implementing joint projects with tuning companies, but this idea is still at the stage of development. Even the introduction of seat ventilation requires a significant amount of work, not to mention massage. Especially when it comes to preserving all other functions, including folding. The introduction of regular massage seats on the current LX generation is quite problematic. When developing the LX, it was more important for us to be able to install three rows of seats, so that seven or eight people could travel in one car - a large family or a company. We focused on this aspect, not the four-seat version.
AA: Design. The first model in this style was the NX. Then everything was explained by the desire to make an offer for a new, youth audience. It was followed by RX, which is also understandable. But LX has always been an icon of a respectable person, a businessman. And, often, a conservative. For what reason was such a bold step chosen, an almost complete change of the image?
HM: The first place for us is the trust of customers and the functionality of the car. NX and RX are cars designed for a younger audience. In the LX, we believe we have managed to maintain the traditional Lexus spirit. With a more aggressive design, we wanted to show the power of the car written on its face.
AA: Tell us about the main changes in the new LX, relative to the previous generation. What, in the opinion of the engineer, should attract owners of the previous generation of the model to purchase the new LX?
SK: When we were developing this car, it was important for us that you see it, get in it, touch it and understand - this is Lexus! We wanted to "hook" the client already at the stage of visual contact. "Oh, another, I want!" The new LX also expresses Japanese hospitality. What is it? Rich functionality. Climate Concierge that takes care of you. The car envelops you with hospitality and the Japanese spirit. Moreover, the previous model did not have a Drive Mode Select system, which allows you to choose one of five tuning modes. The car enchants and delights you, energizes you emotionally. And, of course, there was a diesel engine. The LX is also safer thanks to the Safety System +.
AA: Thank you very much for your answers to the questions from the Russian Lexus Club! We will test the car and share our impressions!
Text and photo: Artem Achkasov, specially for Lexus Russia Club
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