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by Tim Beissmann

Two pieces of the Lexus baby SUV puzzle appear to have fallen into place, with the revelation that parent company Toyota has filed trademark applications for the names NX200t and NX300h in the US and Canada.

The four trademark applications, uncovered by My IS Lexus enthusiast forum member ‘k3vo’, were filed on October 15 by Toyota Motor Corporation “for use in association with automobiles and structural parts thereof”.

Although not specifically attributed to Lexus in the trademark applications, the NX nomenclature aligns with the luxury Japanese brand’s SUV naming structure, logically slotting in below the mid-sized RX and large LX in the line-up.

The Lexus NX200t badge will likely be applied to an entry-level model powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, while the Lexus NX300h will be hybrid model teaming an electric motor with a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol powerplant.

Although Lexus is yet to officially confirm the existence of a program to build a small premium SUV to rival the likes of the Audi Q3 and the BMW X1, a number of high-ranking company executives have admitted the introduction of the new model is inevitable.

The president of Lexus International, Kiyotaka Ise, told CarAdvice at September’s Paris motor show that a small SUV capable of meeting stricter CO2 emissions regulations would be “necessary” heading into the future.

Lexus Australia is also desperate to get its hands on a smaller, cheaper crossover vehicle.

The local division’s CEO, Tony Cramb, admitted at last month’s Sydney motor show that a small SUV was the biggest hole in the brand’s current line-up.

“One part of the market that we really do need an entrant is probably the small SUV,” Cramb said. “That’s an area that seems to be in demand from the luxury customer that we don’t currently address.

“I’m part of [Lexus’] global executive council and most distributors around the world are requesting strongly that we do something about it [launching a small SUV].”

Cramb suggested a small Lexus SUV could become one of the brand’s top-selling models in Australia.

“It depends when it comes … but it’s a dramatically growing segment at the moment and it’s definitely one that we need to be in.

“It would definitely be a volume vehicle for us, there’s no doubt about that. Whether it’s the top-selling one, I don’t know.”

The Lexus RX – the smallest SUV currently offered by the brand in Australia – is its second-highest-selling model so far this year. At 1444 sales, it trails only the Lexus IS sedan, which sits at 1610 units (includes IS250, IS350 and IS F).

Note: Lexus RX vehicles pictured.




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