While its key European competitors have rapidly expanded their line-ups in recent years, Lexus has motored along with a relative handful of offerings. But, as TheDetroitBureau.com previously reported, it has been studying its options in the fast-growing compact crossover niche.
We should get a good sense of what Lexus has in mind during its news conference at the Frankfurt Motor Show next week when the Toyota luxury division lifts the covers off the Lexus LF-NX show car.
“This concept explores the potential for a compact crossover within the Lexus model range,” the maker said in a terse news release accompanying these teaser images.
Lexus describes the shape of the LF-NX as “a further evolution” of the L-finesse design language that has been influencing recent entries, such as the GS, IS, ES and LS lines. The familiar spindle grille is readily apparent though the overall look of the crossover concept is almost one of sheet metal origami. There’s even a hint of the angular Art & Science design language pioneered by Cadillac.
The nose features not only the spindle grille, but distinctive split headlamps and Daytime Running Lights, with an undersized lower bumper and distinctively aggressive vertical cuts at each front corner.
The side view reveals large, almost industrial wheel arches with protective black finishes, while the belt line takes on a strong diamond shape.
The tailgate is more aggressively angled than the typical ute or crossover, and the “articulated” rear lam clusters not only provide the obligatory brake, turn and backup lamps but also highlight the rear bumper, Lexus notes.
The overall goal, according to Lexus, was to create the appearance “that the bodyshell has been carved from a single piece of solid metal.”
The monochrome Brushed Silver Metal exterior is contrasted by the bright orange fabrics and blue lighting – along with rich blacks and chromes – of the interior.
As with recent production models, the “Human Oriented” design of the cabin is divided into two distinct areas, an upper “display zone,” and a lower “operation zone” for various controls and displays that include new touch-sensitive electrostatic switches and a touchpad-style Remote Touch Interface.
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The Lexus LF-NX concept is scheduled for its official debut on the afternoon of Sept. 10 at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
The maker isn’t discussing what might follow but based on numerous comments made by senior brand officials, including those during interviews with global Lexus boss Mark Templin, it is clear the Toyota luxury brand sees a strong need to enter the compact crossover segment. And that suggests a production version of the Lexus LF-NX would be likely to follow within a year – if not sooner.
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Lexus, of course, isn’t alone. We’re seeing a range of new entries from the Germans, such as the BMW X1, and even Lincoln is getting into the fray with a production version of its MKC Concept due next year. Jaguar, meanwhile, will reveal a concept crossover of its own at the Frankfurt show next week. With sales booming in markets around the globe, CUVs are the hot ticket and few makers want to be left on the sidelines.
In the case of Lexus, a production version of the LF-NX could be a critical addition to the line-up. The bigger RX remains the brand’s best-seller, but with the steady expansion of competitive offerings – both the same size and smaller – Lexus needs an additional model to keep buyers coming to its showrooms.