Interview with Lexus LF-NX Concept Designer Nobuyuki Tomatsu

Lexus LF-NX Concept

In an advance event prior to yesterday’s reveal, Autocar spoke with Lexus LF-NX design manager Nobuyuki Tomatsu about how the concept might translate into a production model:

“We want this to be a very influential car — one to make its rivals look boring,” says design project manager Nobuyuki Tomatsu.

The design of the production car is still to be decided. “This isn’t one of those show cars that is 95 per cent representative of something finished,” Tomatsu says. “We have taken a risk, and we hope the reaction will be positive. If it is, there is no reason why our production car couldn’t look like this.”

It’s rumored that the production model will debut at next year’s Geneva Motor Show in March — if true, this gives Lexus just five months to finalize the design.

Tomatsu-san also shared some details on the proposed LF-NX engine:

Power comes from an adaptation of the Hybrid Synergy Drive system from the American market’s Lexus ES300h saloon. That means the front wheels will be driven by a combination of a 156bhp 2.5-litre petrol engine and an electric motor, serving up 200bhp in total. “We haven’t ruled out four-wheel drive for the finished car,” says Tomatsu. “The powertrain is just a starting point for us.”

The hybrid system in the ES 300h is an excellent powertrain, and should be well-suited to the smaller crossover — excited to hear what other engines might be used as well.

Read the full LF-NX article on Autocar


  1. Who do they listen to in order to determine the car is well received? Because based off what I'm hearing, it's a little too much for a car. Interested to see how the production looks and what lexus decides to do. Moreover this concept looks too aggressive for little hybrid motor.
    • Consumer clinics. Not sure how it's done Nagoya/Japan, but most automakers use clinics to gauge reaction to proposed designs in focus groups. This usually happens 2-3 years before production, NOT 6-9 months. This guy is unfortunately lying through his teeth to mask the actual design of the NX.
  2. if they will retain the silhouette and just tone down some details, it will no doubt be a good looking vehicle. Those sculpted and flared fenders makes this concept looks like a real hardcore SUV and not a crossover.
  3. In the case of LF-NX, I believe that they derived this concept from the approved production design. The schedule is out and it passed the design phase already. A Japanese magazine also revealed several details of the design long time ago.
    • i agree. the LF-CC looked like a crazy version of an already approved IS design. for example, the LF-CC roofline is weird for a pure coupe, but perfect for the coupe-like IS sedan. this car is probably the same, and will look great toned down.
    • Yep, the designer of the new IS, Masanari Sakae, told me the IS sketch of his is from 2010. The 3IS design was later frozen in 2011. The LF-CC was adapted from a 1:1 scale of that into 2-door form. I'm noticing a similar at JLR, with some shocking revelations(CSAI!).
    • Great observation, as that is 100% correct. This is usually how we do things, but not 100% sure about Lexus. The NX design would've been frozen in late 2012/January 2013. and a concept design chosen in summer-fall 2012. This came from that unfrozen design and became the LF-NX.
    • It looks like Lexus is more unpredictable now. I'm sure you are surprised to see the NX concept premiere has been moved from Tokyo. :) I'm going to see it in Nov if they also show it. Now with less curiosity.
    • It's why I mistook it for a possible RC-F concept. I'm not sure why they would schedule it for the Tokyo Motor Show, then display it here.
    • Maybe because of the well received GLA.
  4. Might similar to this.
  5. He has a point. This does make the competition look boring..... BD
    • You're wrong! The competition have great looking cars that People With Money actually want to buy. This looks like "designed" by a bunch of pimle faced teenagers With no Money who found a bunch of cheap kit's to put on their Daewoo.
    • That's enough -- one more time, and you're done. Time to switch gears and get back to the cars.
    • I post occasionally. just don't want to be mixed up the the other guy. lol keep up the good work krew
    • No worries about that, I think. :-)
  6. its everything but boring ;]
  7. If it is to debut next year, they cant be this far away from a production version. They would be already testing the production car I would think. Also, surely they wouldnt use a front drive camry hybrid drivetrain, unless they have completley lost the plot. The fact that he stated that is what they are using, really scares me. Have they finally lost their way?
    • It's already production shape the design. Only minor trim changes can occur between now and January 2014. Unless they want to deal recalls, it is better to have a vehicle's aesthetics fully designed midway through development(design freeze).
    • Joe

      Why no front wheel drive train? The immense popular RX has the same architecture in its hybrid version: a front wheel drive with an extra electric motor to engage the rear wheels when necessary. It's true that it doesn't deliver the same sports feeling as a X5 or Cayenne, but as a luxury crossover it is perfectly OK.
  8. I really like what Lexus did with this. It does make the competition look boring.
  9. NOT FINISHED??? Complete poppycock! I have to correct this. Krew, the NX design is way past finished and would've been by last year! I believe Tomatsu is rather willfully lying under orders, as productions designs must be finalized no less than 18 months before start of production and usually this happens for new platforms at 24-30 months. Only minor design details can be changed up to 12 months before SOP. This is because accurate testing and tooling must be done for at least 1-1.5 years, with more advanced or bespoke vehicles taking double that time. This reminds me of how 4 years ago, when a Lexus spokesman at Frankfurt '09 lied misleadingly about the CT200h production design not being completed and would be "influenced by public feedback", yet looking like this in patent photos filed September 11, 2009. The 2009 patent images showed the final CT200h that went on sale in 2011. The real truth of production before concept: AND Lexus never finishes the design process that late nor does truly any quality car manufacturer. Like the LF-Xh concept and 2010 RX on October 9, 2007, LF-NX design patents were likely filed on the same day this week as the 2015 NX patents and immediately blocked on patent databases until late 2014 for no leaks. Any changes now realistically means a delayed release. It's insulting how he thinks little of our intelligence to state that or hopefully Autocar's.
  10. So they will make as I said before
  11. So IF they get a positive reaction it'll look like this... Hmmm... nope it's not gonna look like this. 90% of people who saw it want to pluck their eyes out with a spork. Risky Lexus, really risky... Try a more suble/intellectual and elegant approach.
    • Not even true that theory. They can't change anything significant now, so basing it on "positive reaction" is a boldface lie you heard and impossible, unless the NX is due for delayed production in mid-late 2015. That isn't how vehicle development works, otherwise Lexus would eventually become unprofitable waiting for public approval so late in the game and spending billions on factory retooling.
    • Oh people aren't asking for any significant changes. The actually body is fine; it's the details that throw everyone off. Like, the design needs a chill pill foreal.
    • The production Lexus NX design has been set for nearly a year's time, so what you see is probably a more extreme of what they already made and working to make fully drivable. Any changes in sheet metal do count as significant. Only accents such as additional chrome or mesh vs bar grille can be changed. It is a bit possible that the next RX might also be related to this.
    • I gotcha. So my definition of significant is a little different.
  12. Can anybody tell me, how much might this car cost to the consumers? or at least a price range. Thx in advance.
  13. I never thought about this, but this could easily be related to the next RX due for premiere during November 2014-January 2015. A possible mixture of NX and 2016 RX design cues? Maybe that's why Tomatsu stated what he did, as there's no way a blatant mismash of two different models would go into production. The next RX design would've been completed in early 2013 on the heels of the RX facelift intro, to leave at least 2 years to engineer it for production. The 2007 LF-Xh previewed the 2009-2010 RX one year before it came out (frozen in April 2007), so maybe the same story here, instead with RX cues being tied in with the NX. Or maybe an actual 2016 RX concept is a Tokyo possibility?