Instead, the polarizing design cue will evolve with the brand's electrified lineup.
Ever since Lexus was introduced in the late '80s, the brand has been a purveyor of quietly styled luxury cars that whispered success instead of shouting it. That all changed in the last few years with the advent of the spindle grille. The controversial design feature hasn't found favor with everyone and is often criticized for looking too aggressive and a touch vulgar, particularly on the LX 600.
The enlarged grille as a concept has since spread across the automotive world, with rivals such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz now placing larger items on the front facias of their respective models. But it seems Lexus is ready to move on and forge a new design path. Speaking to Automotive News, company design chief Koichi Suga said the polarizing design is in the process of a redesign, already seen on the recently revealed Lexus RX crossover.
From here on out, the spindle grille will morph into the "spindle body" and, as seen on the RX, will flow into the body paneling in a more harmonious way. This is also in response to the fast-approaching electric era. The brand's first global EV, the RZ450e, does away with the grille completely but still retains the signature design cues pioneered by the grille.
Furthermore, not all Lexus customers were pleased with the rather sudden front-end treatment. Suga notes feedback was a mixed bag, with some likening the grille to an electric shaver or the fictional Predator monster. But, like Goldilocks, it seems Lexus has listened to its clientele and got the styling recipe just right.
Market research in the United States showed larger iterations of the spindle grille to be a turnoff for customers. "The new spindle execution is based on this learning...we need the right balance," he remarked.
The grille will also evolve based on functionality - an electric car doesn't need a massive grille. The mostly hybrid RX range strikes a balance between the past and future. As such, it boasts a pronounced lip perched atop the grille where the spindle design slowly melds into the bodywork.
Now considered a signature design cue of the brand, it's interesting to see Lexus evolve the spindle, unlike BMW which continues to place ever-growing Kidney grilles on its models, including the electric vehicles. This trend can arguably be traced back to Audi's of the '00s, with many mocking the German brand for placing a "goatee" on its offerings. In comparison to most modern vehicles, Ingolstadt's trailblazers look positively demure.
Interestingly, the spindle grille is actually a tribute to Toyota's humble beginnings as a loom maker. As for whether this toned-down design language will boost Lexus sales remains to be seen. The brand has been off its game for a while in the USA where BMW continues to dominate.