The Lexus NX will undercut its direct German rivals with a starting price in the $55-60,000 bracket, though the company says there are no plans to build an SUV any smaller.
Lexus Australia is still finalising pricing and specifications for the new NX but provided some indicative information in Canada to Australian media.
“Our expectation [with NX] is to be very competitive, expect to attract a whole new range of buyers to the brand,” said Lexus Australia boss Sean Hanley. “I think it will sit somewhere in our top two or top three best-selling vehicles. IS will remain our top volume car, then somewhere RX then NX.
“In terms of pricing I’d expect us to be somewhere around the $55-60K mark.”
That would place the Lexus NX below the similarly sized BMW X3, which is priced from $60,900, and the Audi Q5, which costs from $63,600.
Lexus Australia has also ruled out the cheapest NX available, an NX200 with a normally aspirated 2.0-litre petrol engine. The company believes the lower-performance model doesn’t suit our market.
“[The NX] is kind of unique like the RX,” said Hanley. “It sits in the middle, sits in the sweetspot – somewhere between small and compact, so across a number of competitors.
“[The German brands] have a different [SUV] strategy. We’ll do it our way. The entry price is not necessarily key to volume.”
Hanley admitted the new NX could partially cannibalise sales of the larger RX SUV that is also a five-seater.
“I think there will be some leakage of RX sales, particularly RX270 which was brought in to fill a gap [between X5 and X3]. But the NX will bring incremental sales increase for us.”
The Lexus NX heralds the introduction of the company’s new turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine.
Lexus Australia says the turbo petrol NX200t is likely to start higher than the alternative NX model, the petrol-electric NX300h – following the ES sedan in going against the company’s usual pricing structure and having a hybrid as the base model.
Hanley says this is because it is better able to amortise costs now that hybrid is now a mainstream technology used across a large number of vehicles, and also that the turbo petrol is the choice for performance.
The Lexus NX300h and Lexus NX200t will be available in three trim grades: Luxury, F Sport and Sport Luxury. The entry-level Luxury will come in a choice of front-wheel drive or part-time all-wheel drive.
Both the F Sport and Sport Luxury will be offered only with the part-time all-wheel drive system that is borrowed from the Toyota RAV4 – the car on which the NX is “loosely” based.
Standard features for all NX models are likely to include 18-inch alloy wheels, rear view camera, parking sensors, 10-speaker audio, aluminium roof rails, and LED low beam headlights.
F Sport models are also set to come with adjustable suspension in addition to standard paddleshift levers.