The new Lexus NX compact luxury may use a few bits from the humble Toyota RAV4, but so what? That was the question posed by Lexus Australia chief executive Sean Hanley at the NX launch in Adelaide this week.
This week’s launch of the NX300h hybrid ahead of the brand-first NX200t 2.0-litre turbo-petrol around February marks an important step for Lexus into a booming segment where it has lacked a presence. It puts rivals such as Audi (the Q5), BMW (X3) and Volvo (XC60) on notice.
The flipside of this is that it acknowledges a part of the car’s components come from the decidedly downmarket (compared to Lexus) Toyota RAV4, billed as its "foundation". The two cars even share the same 2660mm wheelbase.
The message Lexus wants to send is that the NX is to all intents and purposes a standalone car. As such, the factors that influence emotional response (design), Lexus’ higher prices (a long feature list) and a feeling of quality (more sound insulation and dampening) are brand-specific or at the least re-engineered.
It’s obvious the NX’s panels and the spec-loaded cabins are all Lexus. Features such as the wireless device charger, heads-up display and adaptive cruise control are brand-specific at this end of the market, as is that polarising design.
It’s also much more than a ‘top hat’ on a familiar platform, since the 147kW hybrid powertrain and the forthcoming new 175kW/350Nm turbo engine, developed entirely in-house, are Lexus technologies.
There’s also a significant amount of new body reinforcement (in the form of higher-tensile steel, more spot welds and extra bonding front to rear) to improve stiffness by 20 per cent, more sound insulation and revised suspension mounting points and vehicle geometry, as well as the brand's own all-wheel-drive system on the hybrid that runs off a small electric motor.
However, project chief engineer Takeagi Kato admits alongside the basic wheelbase hardpoints, there is some commonality in the suspension hardware and dash panel sheet-metal.
But even with this being the case, Australian chief Hanley says crossover between Lexus and its mainstream parent is irrelevant.
“For me in some respects we really need to move on from platform sharing as being a topic of discussion, because it’s happening everywhere, our competitors are doing it, it is the future of the global automotive industry.
“I want you to really be reinforced and I say this with deep passion. 90 per cent of this vehicle is Lexus.”
Audi, for example, uses the same MQB matrix are parent Volkswagen and sister brand Skoda for cars such as the A3. BMW developed a front-drive platform called UKL for Mini and plans a suite of its own derivatives, and Mercedes-Benz is in bed with Nissan/Renault.
See our Lexus NX300h review here.
Is the fact that the Lexus NX uses RAV4 components an issue to you?