We investigate why Lexus paintwork is renowned for maintaining its lustrous quality and discover some clever molecular manipulation going on beneath the surface.
They say it is impossible to turn back time. But Lexus has adopted a paint technology that begs to differ.
The arrival of the fourth-generation Lexus LS was significant in many ways, one of which was for the introduction of a revolutionary new paint technology called Anti-Scratch Clear Coat.
Within the advanced painting processes employed in Lexus production facilities, clear coats are common. These durable, final-stage coatings give the paintwork its lagoon-deep lustre and help protect the colour underneath from minor abrasions. But until recently, it was impossible for this coating not to succumb to the rigours of daily contact: swirls from car wash brushes, grazes around door handles from fingernails and rings, and such like. Some of these tell-tale marks can be removed by a professional car detailer, as we did recently with our LFA.
Now, however, the adoption of Anti-Scratch Clear Coat means paintwork possesses the ability to restore itself after light damage. This may appear miraculous but it actually comes through Lexus engineers taking a typically different approach to the problem. Instead of simply making the clear coat even harder, they altered its behaviour by giving it extra flexibility.
The new clear coat features a structure that is more dense than traditional coatings, a feature that has been achieved at a molecular level. Little is given away about the chemical composition of this new paint but it appears that the urethane ingredient has been cross-linked and bonded with a softer, finer and more flexible structure.
Essentially it means that the outer coating gives the car a protective shell that is just as tough and hard-wearing but now possesses an elastic quality that allows it to deform upon impact and then ‘heal’ any superficial scratches. You could liken it to a spring that compresses when pressure is applied but then reverts back to its normal shape when the pressure is removed.
No special treatment or maintenance is required on the part of the car’s owner. And what’s more, the clear coat is just as able to resist the effects of ultra-violet light and acid rain; as proved by the intense, 4,000-hour weather immunity examination Lexus put the paint through before allowing it to be rolled out to customers.
As if that wasn’t enough, another new development in Lexus paint technology is the introduction of an advanced coating process for GS and LS models painted in Sonic Silver. This process gives the car both stronger shading and more defined, sharper highlights. As a result, the car’s subtle and defined bodylines are more noticeable and the surface of the bodywork appears more highly polished.
All of which means that Lexus vehicles are designed to look good and stay looking good… for as long as scientifically possible.