As Lexus’s long-established flagship saloon, the LS has a distinguished history of pushing the boundaries of design, bringing together modern technology with time-honoured Japanese crafts and aesthetics.
These qualities figure strongly in the new LS 500h, where both the bodywork and interior benefit from new treatments and designs that embrace this fusion of art, takumi craftsmanship and functionality that Lexus has made its own.
The development team took “Time in Design” as their guiding theme, inspired by a classical Japanese concept of beauty that changes from moment to moment, as time passes and the environment changes.
LS Chief Engineer Toshio Asahi explains: “We wanted to capture an ephemeral scene to express the design atmosphere, taking an exquisite aesthetic sense that is uniquely Japanese to a high level of artistic value. With this in mind, the design team chose a scene of moonlight shining on waves as the theme to co-ordinate the interior and exterior design.”
Since 2003, Lexus has been constantly researching new exterior colours, focusing on innovative paint technologies to achieve an ever-more brilliant and lustrous appearance. The new LS marks its latest advance in this field, Lunar Silver, a finish that throws the curves and angles of the car’s bodywork into relief with contrasting brilliance and deep shadow, adding impact and intrigue to the subtleties of the design.
Lunar Silver changes its tonal quality according to both the angle at which the car is viewed and the time of day, with a different look under the midday sun compared to twilight. The effect is also heightened when the LS is in motion, with the passing scenery reflected across its mirror-like surfaces.
The key to this effect is a new advance in sonic painting technology. Standard colour paint is usually between 13 and 14 microns thick, while Lexus’ previous sonic shades have reduced this to around four microns. With Lunar Silver the technique has been taken to an even higher level so that the paint is compressed to just one to two microns. This results in the aluminium flakes that would normally float randomly in the paint being brought into a dense and uniform alignment, accentuating their brilliance and reflectivity.
Of course, this ultra-thin film cannot be effective on its own. It takes great to skill to apply and is sensitive to the qualities of the base and primer paint layers on which it sits, so Lexus has had to significantly refine their quality and smoothness, too. This called for close collaboration between the paint engineers and the manufacturing team, making repeated, detailed improvements until the desired pure silver, mirror-like finished was achieved.
The “Time in Design” influence has also produced a new interior trim combination, available in conjunction with the Lunar Silver paintwork. The Nishijin and Haku ornamentation for the doors follows on from the striking Kiriko cut glass and hand-pleated trims previously introduced on the LS and is a similar reinterpretation of classical Japanese artistry.
Nishijin evokes the shimmering path of light created by a full moon above the sea. It is created using the same historical technique once used to make woven material for Japanese noblemen: fine threads of metal foil are mounted on washi paper and cut into thin strips to make a yarn. For the LS, the threads are minutely woven into a jacquard pattern with a three-dimensional effect in tones of silver, grey and black.
This blends beautifully with a Haku panel that curves around the door handle. The history of haku – the Japanese word for “metal leaf” – can be traced back 400 years, a highly skilled process in which an ingot or lump of precious metal is hammered into a foil that is just a few thousandths of a millimetre thick. This is then hand-applied to the panel’s surface to create a beautifully textured finish.
The new LS range also introduces a new Laser Cut Special Ash Open Pore trim finish option. This uses natural wood, dyed black to bring out the richness of its grain. A precision laser-cutting process is then used to reveal bright detailing from a layer of metal beneath the wood, using a skill developed by Japanese master musical instrument makers.
The new Lexus LS 500h is available to order now with first deliveries to customers expected within January.
*Article Source www.media.lexus.co.uk