Lexus is preparing to launch the next generation NX later this year, and there’s a lot riding on the Japanese rival to the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC.
Since its launch in 2014, the mid-size SUV has not only become the brand’s most important model, accounting for the majority of its sales – a significant 39.9 per cent in 2020.
But that’s not all, because it also managed to claim 13 per cent of the luxury mid-size SUV market, outselling the Audi Q5, Volvo XC60 and Range Rover Evoque in the process.
It’s no understatement then, that there is a lot riding on the new model which has recently been caught testing in the US ahead of an anticipated unveiling sometime this year; ahead of going on sale in Japan and the US (at least) in 2022.
Lexus hasn’t teased any details of what to expect with the new NX, but leaks have given us an idea of what to expect. It should ride on the same underpinnings as the Toyota RAV4, known as the TNGA-K platform, which has been designed to provide a more dynamic driving experience.
Powertrains are also expected to be shared with the RAV4, specifically the plug-in hybrid set-up from the RAV4 Prime that pairs a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor for a total output of 228kW. It also has an electric-only driving range of up to 63km and returns a claimed fuel economy rating of just 2.6-litres per 100km in the Toyota.
Neither Toyota or Lexus have introduced the Japanese giant’s next step in hybrid powertrains, instead sticking with its tried, tested and increasingly popular ‘self-charging’ hybrid system that was made famous by the Prius.
The NX would make the ideal platform, as a popular luxury model, for Lexus to introduce plug-in technology in Australia, but it remains to be seen if the company will take the leap.
Also, likely to be offered is the 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine (also found in the RAV4) to provide conventional options that should be enough to remain competitive against the X3, GLC, Q5 and others.
SUVs have, unsurprisingly, become the lifeblood of Lexus in recent years, making up more than 75 per cent of its sales as its wide range of sedans dwindle in popularity.
The larger RX is the brand’s second-biggest seller and accounts for 21 per cent of its total sales. The newer and smaller UX has also performed well and comfortably outsells the long-serving IS sedan; it makes up 15 per cent of the brand’s transactions.