While not yet officially confirmed, the Lexus NX is set to launch in 2014, giving the Japanese luxury brand a sub-RX crossover to rival the likes of the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Range Rover Evoque.
Lexus design division project general manager Takeshi Tanabe confesses that some of his “exaggerated” design details would have to be restricted in a production version of the NX.
“I don’t want to say it would be compromised, but… some engineers, it would make some headaches,” he said.
“But I think the message itself won’t be changed if it makes production. I don’t want to change the major message.”
Tanabe-san says the LF-NX concept - revealed at this week's Frankfurt motor show - represents an evolution of the brand’s ‘L-Finesse’ design philosophy, which he says is becoming more dynamic as it aims to appeal to a younger demographic.
“Previously [with] Lexus … people got not really a strong expression or strong emotion from the Lexus brand itself, so we started thinking for the new-generation Lexus a new chapter. The expression might be a bit stronger, more expressive…
“RX is quite popular among the ladies and a bit aged customer. I think it’s good, but we have to aim [at] something younger, something like a more active user.
“We tried to enhance the appeal to the urban young user by [introducing the] CT200h. It’s going not bad, but we have to enhance more for the younger-generation market.”
Tanabe-san says the LF-NX concept was designed to provide a degree off-road ability as well offer compact dimensions that make it suited to city living.
“It’s a crossover, so something that I say is sportier or more feeling agility in the vehicle because it’s name ‘NX’ is ‘nimble crossover’,” he said.
“At the same time this is a crossover SUV so it has some treatment, higher stance because it has some tough suspension or some underparts and components for rough roads, so this is obviously a crossover with a combination of sporty car and cross-country SUV.”
Tanabe-san admits there is a need for a smaller SUV in the brand’s global line-up.
“Some people say we have RX, but maybe we need something smaller, because currently the market is going smaller and smaller,” he said.
“We have RX and that car is doing quite well – very well – so that’s why maybe we haven’t considered a smaller SUV. But it’s nearing the time to consider that seriously.”
Lexus International president Kiyotaka Ise told CarAdvice at the 2012 Paris motor show that strict emissions regulations meant the company had no choice but to build a more compact SUV.
The NX range is expected to feature a downsized 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol-engined model badged Lexus NX200t as well as an NX300h hybrid.