November 29, 2018
Journey In Taste
Lexus considers good seat design to be a critical part of any new car’s development. It took three years to produce the perfect seats for the all-new ES, a process that involved numerous prototypes in the search for a design that provides ideal support and comfort for people of all shapes and sizes.
The overarching concept for Lexus seat design is “clear and deep,” as Takeshi Kawano, a leading engineer on the team that worked on the new ES, explains: “The moment you sit in the new ES, you’ll notice that your posture feels just right,” he said. “There’s no need to squirm around until you find the right position. This is the ‘clear’ part.
“Then, once you’re seated, your lower back is fully supported. You’ll feel at ease and, no matter the G-forces acting on the car from any direction, your posture never wavers. This is the ‘deep’ part.”
Achieving the right results takes time and attention to detail, ensuring that a high level of comfort is matched by durability. The driver’s seat must also be able to convey the forces acting on the car and its movement, without exposing the driver to unpleasant vibrations.
The seats had to be designed to suit occupants of all sizes, which presented the team with another significant challenge. The objective - regardless of how big or small the driver is, they should be able to experience the exact same sense of luxury.
“Our biggest test during development was how to design the seats so that they could effectively cancel out physical differences,” said Shin Maezawa, who leads all Lexus seat development.
The ES’ seats have a simple structure, with polyurethane foam wrapped around an iron frame. The cushion is flat, but the sides are elevated to provide hip support and keep the body stable. However, if the cushion is made wide enough for large drivers to sit snugly in the seat, smaller drivers will experience a lack of support around the hips.
To develop a seat cushion that could cancel out physical differences, Lexus incorporated very subtle depressions in the surface so that even smaller body types can sink firmly into the seat. Also added was a laminated layer to the top of each seat. This layer is thin and soft, which allows the head to sink into the cushion for better stability.
The all-new ES 250 EX and ES 300h SE were launched in October this year. The ES 250 EX retails for R 593,300 and the ES 300h SE model retails for R 843,800. Both models come standard with a best-in-class 7-year/105 000km Warranty and Full Maintenance Plan.