The Lexus NX is based on the platform on the Toyota RAV4, though isn’t obviously associated with its Toyota twin as with the Prado-in-disguise GX and LandCruiser-based LX.
Here’s all the key things you need to know about the newest entrant in the world of luxury SUVs.
A significant new Lexus?
Absolutely. You probably don’t need to read any more about the relentless growth of SUV sales, and Lexus needs a more affordable sports utility vehicle to boost its fortunes. It’s taken its time to extend its SUV offerings, with the first-generation RX and LX launching in 1998 and 1995 respectively.
Where will the NX sit in relation to the RX?
Where the RX effectively takes on the Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Mercedes ML, the NX will sit below it. The NX’s 4630mm length – 140mm shorter than the RX; 60mm longer than a RAV – sizes it up as a rival to the Audi Q5 (4601mm long) and BMW X3 (4648mm).
The concept vehicle (pictured above) that previewed the Lexus NX looked quite outrageous…
Yep, the LF-NX concept shown at the 2013 Frankfurt motor show suggested the designers had taken too literally a directive to make it “sharp looking”. Still, if the overriding plan was to get Internet forums buzzing whatever the views it can only be considered a success.
It goes without saying there’ll be a hybrid version
Indeed, the Lexus NX300h will borrow the petrol-electric drivetrain from the IS300h, but the other big news here is that the NX will debut the company’s first turbocharged petrol engine.
Tell us more
Lexus says information is still “pre production” at its international launch stage and there are no confirmed fuel figures for the turbo, though for engine outputs the company is quoting 175kW of power (at 4800-5600rpm) and 350Nm (at 1650-4000rpm) for the Lexus NX200t. The 2.0-litre four-cylinder features a twin-scroll turbocharger, direct injection and variable valve timing. It’s mated with a new six-speed auto. A normally aspirated version of the 2.0-litre will be available in some markets though Australia won’t be one of them. The turbo engine will make its way into other (yet to be confirmed) Lexus models, though expect the IS mid-size sedan to be one beneficiary. Lexus Australia expects the turbo NX to account for 60 per cent of sales.
Will the NX follow the trend for front-wheel-drive SUVs?
Both the NX300h and NX200t come as standard in FWD form with electronic all-wheel drive as an option. The front-drive NX200t takes 7.3 seconds to reach 100km/h from standstill with the AWD version using its traction advantage to make a claim of 7.1sec. Either way, you’ll be notably quicker than in the NX300h that takes 9.2 seconds in either FWD or AWD configuration, while the NX200t has a top speed 20km/h higher (200km/h v 180km/h).
The NX300h will be better for saving fuel, though, yes?
Yes, don’t expect the turbo four to match the 2.5-litre four-cylinder with electric motor combination for consumption. The 300h is rated at 5.6 litres per 100km in FWD form; 5.7L/100km in AWD. The NX200t, however, will be the first Lexus petrol engine to employ stop-start, and will have a consumption figure somewhere below 8.0L/100km.
There are LED cornering headlights, colour turbo boost gauge (for the NX200t F Sport), touch-sensitive ceiling lights (with a nod to Jaguar), and a panaromic view monitor that uses four cameras around the vehicle to form a bird’s-eye view, plus it can also issue an audible warning if it detects a human or car in a dangerous vicinity. But our favourite feature is the…
Wireless charging tray
Pop your iPhone (which needs a special case), Galaxy, Nokia or other Qi-supported smartphone in the centre console bin (pictured above) and it will be recharged without the need for plugging it in. Smart.
I’m tempted by the NX already, so how much?
The Lexus NX doesn’t reach Australia until October so official pricing has yet to be announced. However, the brand has suggested a starting point between $55,000 and $60K – which would undercut both the Audi Q5 (from $63,500) and BMW X3 (from $60,900). And it’s also likely to feature more standard equipment than you’ll find in its German rivals.
What if I could stretch to the Lexus RX?
The RX starts from $69,045 but while it’s longer than the NX it doesn’t offer any more seats and the RX’s boot is smaller (446L v 475-500L). Lexus is likely to take this into consideration when it launches the next-generation RX, expected in 2015 (though a seven-seater RX might have to wait another generation).
And you can click to read our review of the new Lexus NX.