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Beijing show: Lexus unwraps NX SUV

Sharp dresser: The design of the Lexus NX is softer than the concept but retains some dramatic styling cues.

Lexus to offer three powertrains, including turbo, for all-new NX compact crossover

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Lexus logo11 Apr 2014

By TIM NICHOLSON

LEXUS has lifted the lid on its all-important NX compact SUV ahead of its world premiere at the Beijing motor show on April 20, with the first official images and details emerging just hours after leaked images surfaced online earlier today.

Timing for its Australian launch is still to be confirmed, however Lexus Australia says negotiations with Japan are almost finished and that a decision is expected “very soon”.

Further details are anticipated at the Beijing show, with a likely Australian launch occurring late this year, or early in 2015.

Three powertrains will be available from the outset: a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol unit in the entry-level NX200 a 2.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid in the NX300h and a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine in the NX200t that marks the Japanese luxury brand’s first foray into turbocharging.

Front- and all-wheel-drive layouts will be offered, and Lexus’ first automatic engine idle-stop system for a petrol drivetrain (dubbed ‘Stop and Start’) will be available.

Full specifications are still to be revealed, but if the dimensions remain similar to the LF-NX concept, which measured 4640mm in overall length and had a 2700mm wheelbase, the toned-down production version will straddle the small and mid-size luxury SUV segments and sit between rivals such as the Audi Q3 and Q5 and BMW X1 and X3.

The official pictures show that Lexus has significantly softened the design from the edgy LF-NX that debuted at last year’s Frankfurt motor show, although it has maintained the aggressive stance and some of the interesting styling cues from the wild concept.

Elements that have carried over to the production version include the enormous spindle grille, the downturned bonnet, huge flared wheelarches, the now-familiar Lexus daytime running lights resembling Nike’s ‘swoosh’ logo and the indents in the side door panels.

Despite the angular design and use of sharp lines, the roofline appears to be slightly rounded as it curves down to meet the tailgate. The NX also features a hidden key barrel in the doorhandle, which Lexus claims is a world first.

The rear styling has been toned down considerably, with a more conventional tailgate design for easier loading and less gimmicky tail-lights.

Describing the NX as “Premium Urban Sports Gear”, Lexus said in a statement that the idea behind the interior design was to “combine the structural beauty of a high-performance machine with a material feel that maximises functionality”.

The cabin has knee pads on both sides of the centre console to support the driver, while Lexus claims the NX has the longest cargo load length of any of its competitors. The NX is also said to have the lowest hip point in its segment, which serves to increase headroom.

Technology-wise, Lexus has included an onboard wireless charging tray that can charge portable devices, as well as a touchpad for the ‘Remote Touch Interface’, panoramic view monitor, head-up display, multi-information display, a blind-spot monitor, cross-traffic alert and radar cruise control.

Lexus Australia chief executive Sean Hanley reiterated this week that the company is keen to add the NX to its stable of SUVs that includes the RX and LX.

“Lexus Australia is very eager to secure the NX SUV and we believe it would complement our existing SUV line-up, providing a gateway vehicle to other SUVs and our expansive hybrid vehicle range,” he said.

“We are now negotiating with Lexus in Japan and expect a decision to be made very soon. It’s a very exciting time for us.” 

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