FEB 3, 2017
THE NEW LEXUS NX IS BOLD, DISTINCTIVE, AND DYNAMIC. IT ALSO FEATURES ONE OF THE MOST PROGRESSIVE AND IMPRESSIVE SEATS THE BRAND HAS EVER DEVELOPED. CHIEF ENGINEER TAKEAKI KATO TELLS US MORE
When he was developing the new Lexus NX, passenger comfort was high on the list of priorities for chief engineer Takeaki Kato, and among the most crucial elements to consider were the front seats. It’s said that race-car drivers, a sensitive sort, know how their cars are performing by the way their seats act. If the car understeers, for example, they feel it – the yaw – in the movements. Kato wanted the same level of car-to-driver communication in the NX. But although he wanted something stylish and sporty, he knew he couldn’t compromise on comfort. The seats had to look good. But they also had to be appropriate for use on multihour commutes.
The balance, Kato says, lay in the firmness of the seat cushions: “Finding the right amount of firmness took a lot of effort. We didn’t want the seat to be too stiff, because the driver would experience fatigue on long trips. But if we made it too soft, the driver would be moving around a lot – bad during turns. Our answer was for the seat to be firm but the surface soft.”
The end result is a seat that provides both balance and physical support. NX drivers will experience the sensation of sitting in the seat, rather than on top of it. And along with ideally shaped bolsters, which deliver degrees of lateral support, drivers can fling the NX around corners without being tossed around themselves. The front seats in the NX F Sport, which use form-fitting integrated foaming, allow the cushions to mold to the backs and thighs of its occupants, offering extra support. And a unique upholstering process that involves an intricate stitching pattern to increase strength (as well as perforation that lets the seat’s leather breath), provides an extra dose of luxury. The color combination of black and dark rose, exclusive to the F Sport, exudes a solemn aura that gives the interior a high level of distinction and class.
“I think the only people that might notice that would be professional upholsterers,” Kato says, “but adding these subtle extra touches makes it all worthwhile. My philosophy was to take as many steps as necessary to ensure the highest quality of vehicle, whether those steps are immediately noticeable or not.”