More than a week before its official debut at the Beijing Motor Show, Lexus is offering up a look at the new NX, its entry into the fast-growing and increasingly more competitive compact luxury crossover segment.
The production model, shown here, significantly tones down the radical styling of the earlier Lexus LF-NX concept vehicle first seen at the Frankfurt Motor Show last autumn. The 2015 Lexus NX will be, nonetheless, boast one of the more aggressive designs in the Japanese maker’s line-up, reflecting the demand by parent Toyota Motor Co. CEO Akio Toyoda’s demand for more “passion” in the brand.
While a number of details will have to wait for the Beijing Motor Show preview on April 20th, Lexus confirmed that the 2015 NX will be offered with three different powertrain options:
- A base Lexus NX 200, which would feature a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated gas engine;
- A Lexus NX 300h hybrid which would likely share its hybrid powertrain with the recently launched ES 300h, a 156-hp 2.5-liter gas engine paired with a 1.6 kWh battery pack and electric motor; and
- The sportiest model, the Lexus NX 200tF Sport, with its turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four.
The 2015 Lexus NX models will slot in under the current Lexus RX line, the top-seller for the Japanese brand. But many analysts expect to see significant growth in the compact crossover segment over the coming years, especially among luxury makers. Key competitors range from the BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz CLA to planned models such as the Lincoln MKC and a compact CUV under development at Cadillac. Even Jaguar might get into the game if it moves ahead on production of the CX-17 concept it unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
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Where Lexus has played it safe with the design of the family-oriented RX line, it has been pushing into more extreme territory with the compact model. The original LF-NX concept generated some decidedly mixed reviews for its edgy exterior but Lexus has pulled back a bit here. But not to the point of blandness, as the strong interpretation of the Lexus spindle grille and the angular edges of the front fenders clearly demonstrate.
The new model will feature cats-eye LED headlamps and daytime running lights, a lower and wider stance than the RX, and bolder front and rear wheel arches. It will ride on 17-inch wheels, with 18s available.
While Lexus didn’t provide any advanced interior shots, its teaser release suggests, “The NX’s cabin combines the structural beauty of a high-performance machine with luxury materials that maximizes functionality. The combination of hard metallic surfaces and contrasting soft materials help create a unique interior.”
One thing luxury makers have discovered is that compact buyers don’t expect to be shortchanged on features. They aren’t out bargain shopping but want plenty of luxury accoutrements, whether leather seats, advanced safety systems or infotainment technology.
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Lexus promises “an array of innovative onboard technology,” that includes a wireless charging tray. The list of optional features, it adds, “includes the first application of a new Lexus Remote Touch Interface with a touch pad; and a comprehensive Multi-information Display, including a Lexus-first G sensor and boost meter, Heads-Up Display, All-speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert.”
While no launch date has yet been announced, we’re expecting to see the 2015 Lexus NX reach showrooms by autumn. And considering competitors like Lincoln and Mercedes are setting base prices close to $30,000, Lexus seems bound to try to come in with a similar starting figure.
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