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Could the new 2022 Lexus NX become Australia's top-selling premium SUV? Keenly priced BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLC rival to shake up segment with petrol, hybrid and PHEV

The NX450h+ plug-in hybrid will be the flagship of the NX range.

The new 2022 Lexus NX could be the model that amps up the Japanese premium brand’s sales in Australia.

The NX plays in the competitive – and growing – premium medium SUV segment and has some serious rivals, predominantly from Europe.

When full pricing for the all-new second-generation NX was announced in December, it showed that Lexus is serious about taking a bigger bite of the premium SUV space.

Some of the segment’s top sellers – the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Volvo XC60 – have better name recognition as they’ve been in the market longer than the NX. And some people might prefer a European badge over a Japanese badge.

But the new-gen NX has all the ingredients to climb to the top of the premium SUV sales charts when it goes on sale in February.

The new NX has one of the most extensive line-ups out of its competitors, with nine variants on offer. It’s available with two four-cylinder petrol engines – a naturally aspirated 152kW/243Nm 2.5-litre unit, and a 205kW/430Nm 2.4-litre turbocharged engine.

Lexus is also offering a 179kW series hybrid powertrain and – in a first for the brand – a 227kW plug-in hybrid (PHEV) setup with 75km of electric driving range.

That’s four engine choices. That night be fewer powertrain variants than the Q5 or X3 but it’s the only model with petrol, series hybrid and plug-in hybrid options.

Pricing is also very competitive when lined up next to its rivals. It ranges from $60,800 before on-road costs for the NX250 Luxury front-wheel drive (FWD) and tops out at $89,900 for the NX450h+ F Sport all-wheel drive (AWD) – the sole PHEV variant. The most affordable hybrid is $65,600.

That starting price undercuts every competitor model, even newbie Genesis’ GV70 (from $66,400).

The plug-in also costs less than other PHEVs like the BMW X3 xDrive30e ($104,900), Mercedes-Benz GLC300e ($95,700) and the Volvo XC60 T8 (95,353).

The new model is fitted with the latest suite of driver assist features as well as Lexus’ latest multimedia setup, with touchscreens ranging in size from 9.8 inches to 14.0 inches.

Last year, Lexus sold 3091 examples of the NX, representing a 12.1 per cent fall over 2020. It was outsold by the BMW X3 (4242), Volvo XC60 (3688), Audi Q5 (3604), Mercedes-Benz GLC (3435) and GLB (3345).

Lexus outsold the Porsche Macan (2328), Range Rover Evoque (1143), BMW X4 (981), Land Rover Discovery Sport (843) and more.

But by the time the NX goes on sale, most of those models will have been on sale for a few years, leaving the Lexus to shine as the newest kid on the block.

Given the increasing sales of hybrids in Australia – they grew by 20 per cent last year to 70,466 units – Lexus is poised to pounce. The NX is based on the same version of the Toyota/Lexus TNGA architecture as the super popular RAV4 and shares many of its underpinnings.

Last year, 72 per cent of RAV4 sales were electrified and that could translate to even more hybrid sales for the NX.

Whatever happens, the premium SUV sales race is about to heat up.