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Next-gen Lexus NX to score PHEV grade

Green machine: The Toyota RAV4 Prime (left) could form the basis for a next-generation Lexus NX PHEV.

Patent filings in Europe suggests all-new Lexus NX to score plug-in hybrid

17 Apr 2020

THE next-generation Lexus NX mid-size SUV could become the first model from the luxury Japanese brand to sport a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrain, according to trademark filings in Europe.


According to the patent filings, one of the variants has been named NX450+, which not only suggests a high-power output for the NX, but also a new form of powertrain given that its petrol engines simply have the model name and number, self-charging hybrids are denoted with an h after the number and the sole diesel option in the LX range is finished with a d.


So far, the Japanese brand offers a wide variety of self-charging hybrids across most of its model lines, however is yet to branch off into the world of PHEV, but the brand has been on record saying its first PHEV will surface in 2021.


When the new-gen NX arrives likely sometime next year, it will be based on the same underpinnings as the new-generation Toyota RAV4, so the most likely powertrain for the NX450+ would be the same PHEV set-up as the RAV4 Prime, revealed at last year’s LA motor show.


Boasted by Toyota as the fastest and most powerful RAV4 yet, the RAV4 Prime is underpinned by a 131kW 2.5-litre Atkinson-cycle petrol engine paired to a set of electric motors and a lithium-ion battery that increase output to 225kW, only 5kW shy of the larger RX450h self-charging hybrid.


The RAV4 Prime is able to accelerate from standstill to 60mph (97km/h) in just 5.8 seconds, while boasting an EV-only range of 63km and combined fuel economy of 2.5 litres per 100km.


A PHEV powertrain would fit the bill for Lexus with its typically smooth throttle response and quiet, serene nature, and would mark a logical step for Lexus given the breadth of self-charging hybrids offered in its current range.


However an Australian debut for the NX450+ is far from a certainty, with parent company Toyota declining to bring the RAV4 Down Under despite the overwhelming popularity of the self-charging hybrid versions.


“There are a number of factors that play into it,” the brand said in October. “We need to assess whether the product is feasible and if it’s going to be successful in our market.”


Lexus’s first-ever full EV – the UX300e small SUV – is set for release in China and Europe later this year, with other markets, possibly Australia, to follow.


The NX is the most popular model in Lexus’ local line-up with 847 units sold through the first quarter of 2020, well clear of its next-best seller, the RX large SUV with 440 units.


In 2019, it managed 3471 sales, well clear of the UX (1931) and RX (1883).

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