Lexus LBX design: premium quality in a compact package

13 September 2023
  • All-new LBX breaks with Lexus design conventions
  • Compact in size yet projecting the stable character of an SUV
  • Designed with a focus on European tastes
  • Targeting a new customer base that values premium quality with a more casual look and feel

Lexus has rewritten its own rule book in developing the all-new LBX urban-friendly crossover, not least in rethinking some of its most familiar design conventions. This radical new self-charging hybrid electric model – the most compact yet to bear the Lexus badge – has styling that sets it apart from its larger stablemates and signals its intention to capture the hearts and minds of a new breed of customer for the brand.

And if you’re looking for an element of surprise, its SUV-style “planted” look is in part inspired by the shape of traditional Japanese kagami-mochi rice cakes – another example of how Lexus references heritage aesthetics in its contemporary designs.

The team that created the LBX was encouraged by the company’s top management to apply fresh thinking, evolving the principles of Lexus Next Chapter design that have defined the latest generation of NX, RX and RZ models. The desire was to produce a car with strong visual appeal for younger, city-smart Europeans who favour premium quality that comes with a more casual, contemporary look and feel.

This is a Lexus you’ll feel at home driving in jeans and sneakers, while still appreciating the luxury craftsmanship and premium quality that are time-honoured hallmarks of the brand.

Nothing makes a clearer statement of the designers’ intentions than the LBX’s frontal styling, which presents a new Lexus “face”. The spindle grille, a signature feature of every Lexus model for more than a decade, has been rethought as a smaller, unified and frameless unit that blends into the bodywork.

Thanks to the compact hybrid engine, the front edge of the bonnet has been brought down, below the level of the headlights, drawing on the “Resolute Look” that characterised Lexus models from the early 2000s onwards. Fresh details include clever integration of the daytime running lights and turn indicators in a single unit, with the familiar Lexus “L” motif reversed to point in the direction of the turn.

A powerful stance and sense of power are all part of the traditional SUV look, qualities that the new LBX projects from its compact dimensions. Viewed side-on, the classic elements are clear to see: short overhangs for nimble performance and powerfully flared front and rear wings. Achieving the taut, muscular surfacing around the rear doors proved one of the toughest challenges, but it is a key element in the car’s road presence.

The eye is drawn naturally to the large-diameter tyres and wheels and there is a strong sense of the LBX having reassuring stability, founded on its low centre of gravity. The visual message is that this is a car you can drive with confidence, whether on city streets, exploring country roads or cruising on the highway.

Inspiration for the LBX’s powerful proportions came from a surprising source – the kagami-mochi rice cakes that are a traditional Japanese religious offering at New Year. These are made of two discs – a small one set on top of a larger one. When viewing the LBX from the rear, this balance of shapes is reflected in the car’s compact cabin positioned above a powerful underbody – another visual cue implying a low centre of gravity and stable handling.

Moving the licence plate down to the rear bumper has allowed for a clean, uncluttered back door surface that throws the LEXUS name into relief. In common with other Lexus SUVs, the LBX has a rear light bar with its own, dedicated design. Here, it extends beyond the span of the back door to the rear wings, emphasising the car’s width and firmly planted look. 

The design is, of course, not just about engaging looks: throughout, fine details have been incorporated to achieve the best possible aerodynamic performance. This, in turn, is an important factor in giving the car stable handling and optimising its fuel efficiency. The roof, the gate-type spoiler and the rear combination lights are all shaped to smooth airflow over and away from the car. The belt-line mouldings sit flush with the bodywork and there are fins on the lower edge of the side sills add to the aerodynamic efficiency, together with precise styling of the front bumper corners and rear bumper sides.

To show the LBX’s lines off their best effect, Lexus is offering a choice of exterior paint finishes that includes vibrant shades of red, yellow and blue and the option of a striking bi-tone execution with a contrast black roof and pillars.

LBX pre-sales are now open for UK customers, with formal orders commencing in October.  First deliveries are expected in March 2024. For more details visit


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Lexus LBX design: premium quality in a compact package


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