Best Foot Forward
A dashing visual feature introduced with the current generation GS in 2011, the Spindle Grille has heralded a new chapter for Lexus as a premier automotive brand
The bold, 3-D appeal of the grille’s profile is the result of an ongoing design evolution. The upper half of the grille, a trapezoid-like shape, was first introduced in 2005 with the GS model. It was part of Lexus’s attempt to create an individual face for the brand — soon leading to the decision to develop an additional lower grille aperture, forming the resultant spindle grille.
“Everyone at Lexus believed that we should try putting forward our L-finesse design philosophy in a much bolder manner,” explains Takeshi Tanabe, project manager of the Lexus Design Division. “L-finesse consists of the following three elements: seamless anticipation, intriguing elegance and incisive simplicity. They all must be reinforced in our design.”
Many drawings and clay models later, the overall design concept was perfected. The upper and lower grille apertures have been merged to form one distinctive shape, with chrome lining decorating the grille’s trim, making a bold visual statement.
Grille Trim Chrome Finishing
The recognizable geometric grille is a result of its function, too. In particular, the lower half is structured to assist intake airflow, optimizing the temperature of the engine under the hood.
Each part of the grille is sculpted and positioned by the slimmest of margins, ensuring a seamless surface treatment. The paint job is also of excellent quality; even half-hidden parts of the grille’s profile are finished, using a variety of shades if necessary, so that it appears sound from all angles.
“The elements behind the grille — things like ducts and cables that may not seem tidy — are not at all visible from the outside either,” says Tatsuya Hattori of the Lexus Product Development Division. His team was responsible for drawing up the actual blueprint of the grille. “We’ve looked at every tiniest detail to maintain the superb look of the face, as well as to ensure the maximum safety to pedestrians.
The spindle grille is Lexus’s seal of authenticity, and all future models will come with this bold frontal design. Each version will receive a slightly different design treatment to cater to each model’s specific target audience.
Only available to owners of the F SPORT grade — the raciest of all the categories — is an even more sporty-looking grille. Its mesh face is made of dozens of tiny L-shaped pieces that are vertically aligned, a masterpiece by Lexus craftsmen. Just a quick glance indicates what a painstaking process it must have been to forge such intricate architecture. Such attention to detail should delight any driver who is lucky enough to get behind the wheel.
The Spindle Grille
Text by Shogo Hagiwara
Photography by Greg White