Asked about the potential for a compact SUV during a media round-table at the Frankfurt motor show, Lexus design division project general manager Takeshi Tanabe responded: “Why not?”
“Things are getting smaller and smaller,” Tanabe-san said. “If you look at Mercedes GLA, it is even smaller.”
Larger than originally expected at 4640mm long, the LF-NX concept – set to be transformed into the Lexus NX for production from 2014 – is almost identical in size to the Audi Q5 and BMW X3 that compete in the premium mid-sized SUV segment.
It leaves space for an even more compact model like the GLA, Audi Q3 and BMW X1, all of which are roughly 150-200mm shorter – making them more practical for city life – and embrace sleeker crossover styling rather than a taller SUV stance.
The premium compact segment is currently growing faster than any other SUV segment in the world. BMW sold almost 80,000 X1s in the first half of this year, up 23 per cent compared with the same period in 2012.
The Q3 outsold the X3, X1, Q5 and Range Rover Evoque in Europe last year to claim the title of the best-selling premium small/medium SUV, raking up more than 70,000 sales in the region alone.
Year to date, the Q3 is Audi’s highest-selling model in Australia, accounting for almost 20 per cent of the brand’s sales.
Though less popular than its larger X3 and X5 siblings, the BMW X1 has enjoyed 27 per cent growth in Australia this year, making it the local division’s fastest-growing SUV.
Arriving somewhat late to the party, the A-Class hatch-based Mercedes-Benz GLA made its official debut in Frankfurt this week. It goes on sale in Europe later this year before reaching in Australian showrooms in the second quarter of 2014.