Lexus is jumping into the booming compact crossover segment with a brand new model referred to as the NX.
This toned down version in the wild-looking LF-NX concept is significant in a number of ways. It introduces some interesting new technology, though not only does it give Toyota’s luxury brand an entry in one of the hottest-selling sectors from the auto market.
The NX – which goes on sale as a 2015 model later this year – will be the first Lexus to offer a turbocharged engine.
Turbocharging permits a smaller engine without compromising performance. Power output is a key selling point for luxury vehicles, so having the capability to offer an engine that is both potent and efficient enough to adhere to stringent emissions regulations is essential.
The turbocharged version from the Lexus’ new compact crossover is called the NX 200t, and it will purchase an all-new 2.-liter four-cylinder engine.
Lexus has not yet released the performance data for the new engine, nor has it said the number of miles per gallon it would get. However the company talked up the engine’s “fast throttle response,” “exhilarating performance” and “outstanding fuel efficiency” in a press release for the LF-NX Turbo, the concept vehicle on which the NX is located. The concept appeared at the Tokyo Motor Show in November (and you can view a photo from it here).
The base model of the Lexus NX, called the NX 200 – no “t” inside the name – will have a non-turbocharged four-cylinder engine with less power. A third version called the NX 300h could have a hybrid powertrain.
Consistent with its strategy to offer more exciting vehicles, Lexus will provide an F Sport version of the NX 200t. F Sport models feature a tighter suspension and sportier styling, among other tweaks.
The NX will compete with the Audi Q3, BMW X3 and Range Rover Evoque, all of which currently have turbocharged four-cylinder engines. Is future updated, though another NX competitor, the Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class, does not.
The brand new model will be positioned below Lexus’ only other crossover, the midsize RX.
Even though styling of the NX is toned down compared to the LF-NX concept, the aggressive “spindle” grille and sharply creased origami-like styling carries through.
Notable interior features feature a new touchpad user interface along with a wireless charging tray for cell phones along with other compatible devices.
The 2015 Lexus NX, which made its debut at the auto show in Beijing this spring, continues a trend of luxury brands expanding into new segments. Already on the way from Lexus is the RC, which will be its first two-door coupe in 13 years.
Other examples include the Cadillac ELR, the first luxury coupe that’s also a plug-in hybrid, as well as the Jaguar F-Type, the British automaker’s first true sports vehicle in four decades.
But SUVs, specifically, have been one of the most active segments for expansion. Mercedes carries a new GLA-Class that slots just below its GLK-Class.