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Detroit show: Lexus NX to hit the road in 2014

Straight lines: The LF-NX concept divided critics, but apparently made enough of a splash to influence the imminent road version.

Lexus’ long-awaited NX SUV fast-tracked, expect a premiere in late 2014

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Lexus logo15 Jan 2014

By MIKE COSTELLO

LEXUS has accelerated development work on the NX, a new mid-sized SUV to rival the Audi Q5 and BMW X3, with a production version expected to premiere before the end of 2014.

Previewed by the polarising LF-NX concept car at last September’s Frankfurt motor show, the NX will give Lexus a belated presence in one of the fastest growing luxury segments.

Furthermore, the NX will likely carry over some of the more outlandish elements of the edgy concept that divided critics when it appeared at Europe’s largest car show, as Lexus continues its push to add eye-catching style to its repertoire.

As part of this, the Lexus design department has been streamlined and, as evidenced by its more recent show and road cars, ordered by president Akio Toyoda to break the shackles of conservatism.

Speaking to GoAuto in Detroit following the world premiere of the sexy RC F V8 muscle car, Lexus global executive vice-president Mark Templin said reaction to the concept was so emphatic, the company fast-tracked development of a road car.

“When we went to Frankfurt and showed the concept we said we were committed to entering that segment of the marketplace,” he said.

“But the response to that product has been so good, I think we’ve accelerated our plans. So it won’t be too long (before the road version).”

When asked if this meant we’d see a production car by year’s end, maybe at September’s biennial Paris motor show, Mr Templin said: “I certainly don’t think that would be out of the question”.

When asked if the NX’s strange, sharp-angled design would carry over to the production version, Mr Templin answered in the affirmative, and said much of the design “will move forward in many of our products, including the SUV”.

“Nobody gives us credit for the emotional presence of our brand,” he said.

The NX will also likely feature Lexus’ long-awaited new turbo-petrol powertrain, the first in the brand’s 25-year history. The company continues to battle sophisticated force-fed petrol and diesel units of its German foes with thirstier V6s and petrol-electric hybrid drivetrains.

As recently as late last year, the company said it wanted to wait to get NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) in its prototype turbos down to a level that came close to its smaller normally aspirated units before putting them into production.

As we reported form the Land of the Rising Sun late last year, Lexus unveiled its debut turbocharged engine at November’s Tokyo motor show.

The 2.0-litre engine – no performance figures were given – featured what Lexus claimed to be world-first technology that ports exhaust gases in such a way that there are no pressure losses in the turbocharger.

According to Lexus, this allowed it to strap on a turbocharger that is larger than what was possible using existing twin-scroll technology – and a performance boost.

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