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Lexus has spent the better part of three decades trying to take the fight to the German luxury giants – Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz – and now has its best chance to beat them in a straight contest.
The key is the all-new NX mid-size SUV that’s due to go on sale in Australia in November. It’s currently the fifth best-selling model in the medium SUV over $60,000 market, behind the German trio of the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLC (wagon) as well as the popular Swede, the Volvo XC60.
But, despite being in the final year of its life and in run-out supply, the NX is still selling strongly, only 381 sales behind its closest rival, the Mercedes GLC. The introduction of a new model typically provides a sales boost, which could propel the NX above its archrivals.
Lexus will be hoping for a strong introduction for its best-selling model, as the brand is in the process of losing three models that accounted for more than 10 per cent of its 2020 sales – the IS sedan, RC coupe and CT hatch.
The NX has long been the brand’s key model – recording nearly 40 per cent of its 2020 total – but the added pressure to perform means the NX cannot afford to fail in Australia.
Lexus Australia has confirmed it will offer the new NX in three variants initially – the NX250, NX350 and NX350h. The new NX is bigger in every dimension to the out-going model, it’s 4660mm long (an extra 20mm on the current model), 1865mm wide (+20mm), 1640mm tall (+5mm) and the wheelbase is now 2690mm (+30mm).
The NX250 is powered by a 2.5-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine, with an eight-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. Lexus Australia has not released performance information yet, but given this engine is shared with the Toyota RAV4 it’s likely to make a similar 152kW/243Nm.
The NX350 gets an all-new 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol under the bonnet, it’s paired with the same eight-speed auto as the 250 but gets an all-wheel-drive set-up. Again, power is yet-to-be-confirmed but reports indicate it will make more than 200kW/400Nm.
Lexus Australia has not confirmed it yet but, as we’ve previously reported, the NX450h+ plug-in hybrid is a likely addition shortly after the first three models arrive in showrooms. It has a 2.5-litre petrol engine with a pair of electric motors, one on each axle for all-wheel drive, and has a claimed EV-only driving range of up to 75km.
This would be an important addition to the Lexus line-up, which was once a leader in electrification in the luxury market but has persisted with its “self-charging” hybrids in the face of its rivals adding plug-ins and full-EV options.