Giant Cartoon Robots & Japanese Porches Inspired the Lexus UX Crossover Design

Lexus UX Crossover

With every Lexus model, there are specific ideas and themes that help to shape the overall design. For the new UX crossover, two very different concepts influenced its appearance: an anime robot from the 1980s, and a Japanese-style house verdana called Engawa.

The cartoon robot Mazinger Z was a warning sign in the early design stages of the UX, as chief engineer Chika Kako did not want the crossover to resemble the anime legend — from Cool Hunting:

When Chika Kako, the first woman chief engineer at Lexus, saw designs for the brand’s all-new UX subcompact crossover, she thought of childhood days spent watching anime cartoons with her brother. The SUV’s rear lights reminded her of Mazinger Z, a hulking manga robot on the small screen in the late 70’s and early 80’s. It was a good look for an animated character, she thought, but not on the latest addition to the Lexus line-up.

“The original shape was really unnatural-looking,” Kako tells us via a translator at the vehicle’s global launch in Stockholm earlier this month. Once she told the all-male design team to soften the aggressive exterior, they got the message. “Simply by mentioning Mazinger, they understood what I meant.”

Engawa is essentially a porch that surrounds Japanese homes, extending the living space out into the world — from the Robb Report:

Because of the vehicle’s small size, [chief designer] Suga and Kako wanted to give the interior a greater sense of space. To achieve this, they drew inspiration from Japanese architecture. “We have this concept where you use the outside space as a continuation of your environment,” Suga says.

“Japanese houses are very small, but they have large windows, so the mountains and trees and nature outside are like a picture, an extension of your living space.” Kako adds, “One thing I asked for right away was this line that goes from the dashboard and continues to the outside of the fenders,” she says. The result was not only a sense of openness but also a commanding view of the road, despite the vehicle’s relatively low seating position and center of gravity (no top-heaviness here).