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Exclusive: Lexus names UX to a ‘t’

U turn: The Lexus UX concept will become a production reality according to one of the company’s most senior executives.

Baby Lexus SUV set to debut new naming system that drops turbo from badge


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10 Mar 2017

JAPANESE luxury car-maker Lexus appears to be planning to tweak its model-naming system by clipping the “t” designation for turbocharging from badges such as 200t.

The change has come to light via the nomenclature for Lexus’ upcoming baby SUV line-up that not only confirms the UX title for the vehicle but will include UX200, UX250 and UX250h variants.

Of course, the UX250h refers to a petrol-electric hybrid powertrain that we all expect to head the options for the all-new crossover when it rolls into battle against the likes of the Audi Q2 within a year or so.

The UX200 and UX250 names appear to apply to petrol four-cylinder powertrains (Lexus does not do diesel).

But curiously, the 200t badge employed on existing Lexus turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder vehicles – including the NX200t medium SUV and IS200t mid-sized sedan – is nowhere to be seen in documents seen by GoAuto.

As we fully expect the UX to feature Lexus’ latest small-capacity turbo-petrol engines, the change most likely reflects a switch to the model-naming system.

The logic appears to be that if Lexus is planning to adopt universal turbocharging on all of its petrol engines, what is the point of all of them carrying an extra ‘t’ on the badge?In fact, the renaming system might have already started with the Lexus LS500 limousine that gets a twin-turbo V6 in place of the previous model’s V8 – but no badge ‘t’.

If our speculation is correct, the naming system could be expected to be changed progressively across the range, with each major model update.

Shown in concept form at last year’s Paris motor show, the UX was this week confirmed for production by Lexus International executive vice-president Yoshihiro Sawa at the Geneva motor show (see earlier story).

No timing was given, but a launch late this year or early in 2018 would not seem out of place as Lexus frequently shows its concepts about a year out from production.

Most pundits expect the production UX to share the front/all-wheel-drive Toyota New Global Architecture that already underpins sister brand Toyota’s similar-sized SUV, the C-HR, which has just been launched in Australia.

Sitting below the NX in a four-model SUV line-up, the UX is destined to become the first Lexus vehicle in Australia to get the 250h designation. This suggests a hybrid powertrain sitting between the 200h – as used on the 100kW CT200h hatchback – and the NX’s 147kW 300h.

As the CT200h employs a 1.8-litre petrol engine in tandem with an electric motor while the NX300h comes with a 2.5-litre petrol engine/electric motor combo, we are guessing the UX250h will slot in between with a hybrid powertrain based on a 2.0-litre petrol engine.

Although Lexus has reserved the names UX200 and UX250 for its new urban crossover vehicle, that does not mean it will launch with both of these alongside the hybrid. The 250, for example, might be reserved for a later update at facelift time.

No-one would be surprised if these same powertrain options and badges turn up on the next-generation CT small hatch.

When asked about the possibility of a replacement for the ageing hybrid-only five-door small car, Mr Sawa told GoAuto that the vehicle “was also a secret”.

Lexus Australia product spokesman Nick Raman declined to comment on GoAuto’s speculation about a Lexus naming system change, but said that if the UX eventuated, the Australian Lexus operation would be keen to include it in the local line-up.

He said Lexus Australia acknowledged Mr Sawa’s comments on UX at Geneva, but added that his company had no word yet on availability or launch timing.

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