In years past, flagships were often the largest and snazziest sedan a company had to offer. With consumer tastes seemingly permanently shifted to crossovers and SUVs, that standard is more frequently being borne by those machines.
Lexus has latched on to this, debuting its Limitless Concept today in Detroit. Not yet a production model, the company nevertheless says it has â€œthe potential to shape the future of a flagship luxury crossover for Lexus.â€�
It looks like the big LS sedan might soon have to share its flagship crown.
The LF-1 was created at CALTY Design Research in California. Its design language is said to be rooted in a design concept Lexus calls â€œmolten katana,â€� which fuses the organic shapes of liquid metal with the sharp edges of a traditional Japanese sword. That sure is a lot of marketing speak, but the LF-1 may well be a harbinger of future Lexus styling direction.
And you thought the current Lexus spindle grille was bold.
â€œThis is our vision for a new kind of flagship vehicle that embraces crossover capability without giving up the performance and luxury delivered by todayâ€™s top sedans,â€� said Kevin Hunter, president, CALTY Design Research. â€œThe LF-1 Limitless concept incorporates imaginative technology while creating a strong emotional connection by improving the human experience for the driver and passengers.â€�
There are a lot of details here that will likely never make it past the accounting department, such as those gonzo rims. I do hope the blade-style door handles appear, as they would be an awesome styling cue that hopefully permeates through the rest of the lineup. I got excited when the blurb mentioned a rear â€œsplit spoiler,â€� but sadly it is not in the visage of the departed Merkur XR4Ti.
Interestingly, all powertrain controls are mounted on the steering wheel. Paddles mounted to the steering wheel control the acceleration for sporty driving while buttons on the lower section of the steering wheel engage options like park and reverse. Such an approach certainly frees up center console space, but anyone who feels that steering wheels are currently overloaded with buttons should look away now.
It’s unclear whether the LF-1, if it were to make production, would replace something currently being sold in Lexus showrooms, or if it would be an addition. The LX currently sits atop the Lexus SUV heap, but its reason for being is far different than a long-n-low crossover.
Powertrain details remain a mystery, but Lexus has deemed us worthy to know the LF-1â€™s size. At 197.4 inches in length and 78.2 inches in width, it is a couple of inches longer and nearly four inches wider than the current RX. It stands 4.5 inches lower than the RX, at 63.2 inches. This neatly splits the difference between the RX crossover and the flagship LS sedan.
Thereâ€™s that word again.
[Images: Lexus ; Â© 2018 Bozi Tatarevic/TTAC]