Lexus has taken the covers off a new electric concept called the LF-Z, a sort-of coupe-SUV style vehicle that may not directly preview a forthcoming new Lexus product, but instead hints at what's to come from Lexus in the next decade. And that future is very much electrified.
Variable all-wheel drive and over 540hp
Though just a concept car for now, the Lexus LF-Z has been given a set of vital stats, which presumably are to ready us for a production car's capability in the not-too-distant future. And the figures seem quite realistic. A 90kWh lithium-ion battery pack is mounted between the axles, low down, and Lexus says it's good for a 600km range on the WLTP cycle. It can be recharged at up to 150kW.
Oddly, though, Lexus refers to a single electric motor, mounted on the rear axle. Why odd? Because it also talks about 'Direct4' all-wheel drive and varying the torque output across all four wheels depending on conditions. No matter, the peak outputs are quoted as 544hp (400kW) and 700Nm, which explains the 3.0-second 0-100km/h time, despite the 2,100kg mass.
The only other technical detail of note is that lack of a mechanical link between the steering wheel and the front wheels. It's a 'steer-by-wire' system, allowing adjustment of the steering directness and force according to conditions or the driver's preference.
Evolving the Lexus design
The LF-Z is 10mm shorter than the current Lexus RX, though it has a much longer wheelbase and is a little wider and lower, giving it a sportier stance. It's a five-door vehicle with cameras instead of door mirrors and a sloping rear window. The designers have reimagined the current Lexus spindle grille for an electric age, as the centre section is mostly blanked off, while the centrally mounted Lexus badge is illuminated.
To the side, the kinked window line catches your eye, as does the unusual treatment of the front wheelarch, featuring a straked motif and the Lexus badge once more. The glasshouse appears all black, with a fin running down the centre that rises to incorporate a high-level brake light toward the rear.
Back there, you'll also find a new look for Lexus, with its name spelled out through the middle of a full-width rear light. The straked motif is found in this light and in the darkened centre section of the bumper below, helping to visually break up the bodywork height.
A forward-looking cabin
Although the interior of the LF-Z looks, at first glance, like pure concept car fantasy, Lexus tells us that aspects of it will be found in future models. In particular, it is referring to the single module clustered around the steering wheel, encouraging the driver to keep their eyes up and on the road. To that end, there's an augmented reality head-up display and artificial intelligence tech for the voice control system.
The rest of the cabin, with just four seats in total, is remarkably clean-cut and unadorned. That extends to the electrically operated doors, with retractable door handles on the outside. Meanwhile, the concept also features a next-generation Mark Levinson audio system and a panoramic glass roof using electrochromic glass that can be dimmed as required.
Lexus promises 20 new models
The revealing of the LF-Z concept car is only half the story, today, as Lexus used the moment to, unusually for a Japanese brand, publicly lay out its plans for the coming years. At the heart of the strategy is the introduction of 20 'all-new or redesigned models' by 2025. That's just four years away, and we're told that two of the new vehicles will be unveiled this year.
Although Lexus is committed to going fully electric, it stated that regular hybrid and plug-in hybrid models will form part of that mix. Expect more SUVs, for sure, though Lexus also hinted at high-performance cars and 'cars appropriate for chauffeur driving'.
Along with this ambitious new car programme, Lexus intends to achieve carbon neutrality throughout the entire lifecycle of all its models by 2050, including in materials manufacturing, parts and vehicle logistics and disposal and recycling.
Finally, Lexus unveiled its plan to open a massive new business and technology centre in Japan, bringing together design, development and planning into one campus. Included in this are 10 different test tracks. It claims that the 'important issues of co-existence with the local environment and communities have been carefully considered in the development' of this centre and it will open in 2024.
By then, will there be an electric Lexus on sale that looks like the LF-Z concept? Here's hoping. In the meantime, read our review of the electric Lexus you can buy today, the UX 300e.