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For its second generation, the Lexus NX mid-size SUV is once again related to the best-selling Toyota RAV4, but Lexus is keen to point out the two models are not like for like – well, not to the degree that most think.
Speaking to media at the reveal of the new NX, Lexus chief engineer Takeaki Kato confirmed the model shares its TNGA-K platform with the fifth-generation RAV4, among other models, but changes were made to separate the two beyond their unique exteriors and interiors.
“Because RAV4 is already introduced, (it) looks like we carried (the platform) from RAV4, but actually … (with the) NX platform, some portion is reinforced from the RAV4 to add more rigidity, to have more driving performance,” he explained.
“For the hybrid system, the hardware is basically the same, but some of the (points are) different. For example, battery layout: the RAV4 is outside of the rear member, but we are (not to create better) distribution.
“The design for this area, as you say, (is a) more adaptive rear area. To do that, we changed the layout for the extra battery, and then also the exhaust.”
Lexus design division general manager Koichi Suga pointed out that, due its battery positioning, the RAV4’s rear end is “very square” when compared to that of the NX.
“For NX, we more considered the centre of gravity. Therefore, the battery is moved inside the car, and then we can enjoy the shape of the car. So, when you look at this car from the back, it is very low and wide – this is a very strong point for NX.”
And when it comes to other differences, Mr Kato noted the NX’s alloy wheels measure up to 20 inches in diameter, while the RAV4’s items max out at 19 inches. The former is also available with tyres that are 10mm wider (235/50) than that of the latter.
He also confirmed the NX450h+ plug-in hybrid (PHEV) has “special tuning … for the distribution of the torque” for its all-wheel-drive system, so its performance is unlike the equivalent RAV4 Prime’s.
While the NX450h+’s power output hasn’t been released yet, it’s likely to match the RAV4 Prime’s 225kW, because after all, those models have the same 18.1kWh lithium-ion battery and estimated 75km of WLTP electric-only range.
Speaking of powertrains, the NX350h ‘self-charging’ hybrid (HEV) and RAV4 Hybrid are equivalents, too, and while the former’s power output is also yet to be confirmed, it's expected to match the latter’s 160kW (front-wheel drive) or 163kW (AWD).
Where the NX350h and RAV4 Hybrid differ, though, is battery type, with the former using a lithium-ion item, while the latter still has a nickel-metal hydride unit, although it’s expected to switch to the other side soon.
But the NX’s biggest powertrain difference is its availability of a yet-to-be-detailed 2.4-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine with an electronically controlled full-time AWD system. This pairing debuts in the NX350 and therefore hasn’t been offered by the RAV4 to date.
Needless to say, the new NX and RAV4’s differences are more than skin deep on paper, but we’ll find out how much they translate to the real world when the former enters Australian showrooms in November.