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Future models - Lexus - NX

Lexus NX SUV here in October

New player: The Lexus NX will be offered with either a petrol-electric hybrid or turbocharged petrol powertrain.

Long-awaited NX compact SUV to debut new tech and Lexus’ first turbocharged engine

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Lexus logo29 May 2014

LEXUS will finally fill the obvious hole in its burgeoning line-up from October this year when the NX compact SUV starts rolling into local dealerships.

Available from launch in petrol-electric hybrid NX300h guise, Lexus will then release the NX200t variant, powered by the company's first turbocharged petrol engine, early in 2015.

While some markets will get a naturally aspirated version of the 2.0-litre petrol unit, Lexus Australia has elected not to offer it here.

Specification and pricing will be revealed closer to launch, but it is expected that Lexus maintain its strategy of offering both variants in its now standardised spec levels of Luxury, F Sport and Sports Luxury.

The dimensions of the NX mean that it will straddle both the small and medium SUV segments competing against rivals including Audi’s Q3 and Q5 and BMW’s X1 and X3 in a similar way that the Lexus RX is positioned somewhere between a Q5 and a Q7.

Asked whether the NX could become the Japanese brand’s top-selling model locally, Lexus Australia chief executive Sean Hanley said that it is not out of the question.

“It very well could be. It’s coming into a hot market segment. It could very well be, although RX is still a very strong product in our line-up,” he said.

In a statement, Mr Hanley also said the new technologies in the NX will hold great appeal to the Australian buyer.

“The NX will bring to this segment a unique blend of design, dynamics, specification and service – but importantly greater consumer choice.

“With NX 300h and 200t customers will be able to choose from a broad range of drivetrains and models, all paired to the greatest array of interior and exterior combinations to grace a Lexus production vehicle,” he said.

Pricing will be announced later in the year, but expect it to start well below the opening price of its larger RX stable-mate which kicks off from $69,045 plus on-road costs. The NX could be priced somewhere between Audi’s Q3 range that starts from $42,300 and the Q5 that kicks off from $63,600.

The NX will showcase some new technology for the Japanese luxury marque, including an Australian-first wireless charging tray for selected smartphones and devices, although for the time being, some Apple iPhones may require a backing case to utilise the charger.

Touch-sensitive lighting features in the cabin, and the NX will mark the debut of the third-generation version of the Lexus Remote Touch multi-function control that features a touch-pad that can be pinched in the same way as a smartphone screen to zoom in or out.

On the safety front, some NX variants feature a 360 degree Panoramic View Monitor that uses four high-definition cameras for a better view of the vehicle's surrounds.

All NX300h variants will offer a blind spot monitor and a rear cross traffic alert as standard, and in keeping with the rest of the Lexus range, all variants will come standard with a reversing camera.

The highly-anticipated 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that powers NX200t variants produces 175kW of power and 350Nm of torque, but performance and fuel consumption data is yet to be announced. This powertrain will include a six-speed automatic transmission driving either the front or all four wheels, depending on specification.

While it is larger than the NX, Audi’s Q5 2.0 TFSI quattro that uses a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine pumps out 165kW/350Nm, giving the Lexus a slight edge in the power stakes.

Propelling the NX300h is a 145kW 2.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid powertrain with a nickel-metal hydride battery that sits under the second-row seats, and will drive either the front or all four wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

The NX will be a five-seat only proposition with no room for a third row in the cargo area, although Lexus said that the boot is cavernous enough to fit four full-size golf bags.

The Japanese car-maker offered local media a sneak-peak of an almost production-ready prototype at the Good Design Awards in Sydney this week, revealing an NX300h hybrid variant in base Luxury specification.

In this guise, the NX features a high-end cabin with leather upholstery and stitching, and plenty of leg- and head-room in the front and rear.

Higher-spec vehicles will feature LED headlights as well as more standard safety and comfort features.

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