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Lexus Aus to follow Germans further mainstream

Coming soon: A production version of the UX concept will go head to head with the likes of Audi’s Q2/Q3 and BMW’s X1 and incoming X2.

Next-gen CT and small SUV a must for low-end Lexus growth

Lexus logo10 Jun 2017

LEXUS Australia will continue to follow its premium German rivals by offering products with prices closer to mainstream competition, the company’s local chief executive Peter McGregor has confirmed, with a next-generation small car and small SUV cited as an “absolutely” necessary move.

Speaking with GoAuto at the national media launch of the Lexus LC in Tyabb, Victoria, this week, Mr McGregor said the success of the NX mid-size SUV – which is the second-cheapest model, starting at $53,550 plus on-road costs – showed that more affordable models were justified in the range.

“We remain committed to the entry level,” he stated.

“The entry-level part of the market is important to us. And if we can compete, we want to compete. We have recently increased supply for NX, and on the back of that, we’re expecting a pretty good month this month (June).

“On the CT, we will introduce a facelift toward the end of the third quarter this year. And the (small SUV) concept car (UX) that was shown in Paris, we have already told Lexus International that if that car was confirmed for production, Lexus Australia would be very interested to introduce it.

“Our hands are out if they’re going to move in that direction.”

Lexus has been impacted by supply issues for the NX, with its year-to-date volume falling by 4.8 per cent to 1356 units according to VFACTS May 2017 figures, although Mr McGregor said the three-month wait list has now been resolved.

However, this result still positions the NX as the brand’s most popular model by almost two-to-one, with the RX large SUV (768 sales, down 6.7 per cent) keeping the IS medium sedan (715 units, up 1.9 per cent) in third place.

The surprise performer of 2017 has been the CT200h which, despite being a lightly facelifted version of the hybrid hatch launched in 2011, has soared by 30.7 per cent this year, with 387 sales cementing it as Lexus’ fourth best seller.

But it was clear both Lexus dealerships and executives were most pining for a production version of the UX small SUV to compete against the Audi Q2/Q3, BMW X1 and forthcoming X2 and Mercedes-Benz GLA.

“Anywhere that there is a luxury segment that has a volume opportunity that we're not being involved with, they (dealers) don’t have to knock on my door,” Mr McGregor said.

“We (Lexus Australia) are putting our hand up as well.”

Asked whether a Lexus small SUV could look as wild as the UX concept, given the styling similarity between the Lexus LC coupe and the original LF-LC concept car, Mr McGregor replied: “I personally thought the concept styling was pretty good.

“I thought it was right out there and personally I would love to see that happen,” he continued.

“I thought that what we saw in Paris got a pretty good reaction, which is always a good indication. But, again, we’ll just have to wait and see.”

As previously reported, Lexus International executive vice-president, Yoshihiro Sawa, confirmed to GoAuto that the UX would go into production, saying that the new compact crossover was “not so far away”.

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