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Beijing show: Lexus compact SUV weeks away

Japanese Audi Q5 rival: The Lexus NX, previewed by a single official image here, will get a public debut in Beijing later this month.

Lexus NX premium crossover SUV to make world premiere in China on April 20

Lexus logo7 Apr 2014

LEXUS will stage the world premiere of its long-awaited NX compact SUV at the Beijing International Auto Show on April 20.

The NX will fill a massive void in Lexus’ range below the large RX model, giving the Japanese luxury player a bonafide rival to the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Volvo XC60.

Lexus previewed its newest model with the LF-NX concept at the Frankfurt motor show in September 2013, though it has been under study for several years.

With the road car, Lexus has of course toned things down compared to the wild concept, though the road-going NX still looks to have aggressively flared wheel arches, a prominent side-profile line, ‘squinting’ triangular headlights and the brand-signature ‘spindle’ front grille.

Under the bonnet will be Lexus’ first turbo-petrol engine in the brand’s 25-year history, a new 2.0-litre unit with clever lag-reducing technology. It seems safe to assume a petrol-electric hybrid offering will play the economy-leading role against frugal German and Swedish diesels.

Speaking with GoAuto earlier this year in Detroit, Lexus executive vice-president Mark Templin said the development work on the vehicle following its unveiling as a concept several months earlier had been fast-tracked, meaning production models would appear imminently.

The Beijing debut points to the significance of China to Lexus, a market in which it battles to compete with other major luxury brands. Lexus sales grew 14 per cent to 73,000 units in 2013, but it still lags a long way behind market-leader Audi, which sold 124,520 cars in the first quarter.

The timing of Lexus’ planned NX reveal points to an Australian market debut in early 2015, or potentially even toward the end of 2014.

To indicate the importance of the NX to Lexus in Australia – a brand that is up 8.4 per cent this year – it is worth noting that the Q5 is Audi’s second top-selling vehicle so far this year behind the new A3 hatch, while the X3 is BMW’s third top-seller behind the larger X5 SUV and the 3 Series.

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