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Frankfurt show: Lexus LF-NX concept

Out there: The design of the Lexus LF-NX concept is all sharp angles and jagged lines.

Lexus previews much-needed compact SUV model with wild LF-NX concept

5 Sep 2013

IT’S no secret Lexus will display a new compact SUV at the Frankfurt motor show on September 10, but the wild lines of the LF-NX concept revealed this week are sure to raise some brows.

With sales of luxury SUVs continuing to boom, the Japanese luxury brand has long acknowledged the need within its range for an answer to the Range Rover Evoque, Audi Q5, Volvo XC60 and BMW X3.

Currently, the company’s SUV range kicks off with the RX large SUV: it’s second most popular car Down Under, which fights the BMW X5, Audi Q7 and Mercedes-Benz ML.

The production NX will slip beneath this model in the Lexus range, and if it’s to match up to key rivals, will need to kick off somewhere around $60,000.

As well as all-but-confirming the expected NX badge will adorn the nose come production from 2014, the radical concept hints at a distinctive exterior design for the road-going model, in-line with the company’s increasingly edgy styling direction as seen on the new IS sedan.

The design - an evolution of the brand’s L-finesse styling language used on recent concepts such as the LF-CC coupe - is all sharp angles and jagged lines, with wild flared wheel arches and a version of the now-signature ‘spindle’ grille with daytime running lights.

The distinctive brushed metal finish, says Lexus, “gives the striking impression that the body shell has been carved from a single billet of solid metal”.

In a continuation of Lexus’ 'Human Oriented' L-finesse design concept, the dash is divided into an upper ‘display’ zone and lower ‘operation’ zone. Future technology includes the use of touch-sensitive electrostatic switches and a new version of the familiar touchpad Remote Touch Interface (RTI) design.

The cabin’s radical look is completed by the yellow and black leather-accented seats with contrast stitching and the ice-blue instrument lighting.

The production version is expected to share some of its underpinnings with the new Toyota RAV4, with the range expected to feature either petrol-electric hybrid or newly-developed turbo-petrol powertrains.

The LF-NX concept is a hybrid, although Lexus is withholding the full technical details for now. Production versions are a good bet to use a version of the 164kW/300Nm powertrain from the IS300h.

Expect Lexus to offer the production NX is price-leading front-drive and all-wheel-drive guise. Pricing will start well south of its current SUV price leader, the $69,045 front-drive RX270.

It is understood Lexus has planned to reveal the concept in its home market of Japan at the Tokyo motor show in November this year, but pressure to fill the gap in its line-up appears to have pushed the reveal forward to Frankfurt in September.

If things follow their expected course, the production NX will appear in road-going form at the Geneva motor next March before progressively rolling out around the globe - including Australia - over the ensuing months.

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