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Lexus NX 2022: Australian sales race to heat up with imminent arrival of new BMW X3, Audi Q5, Volvo XC60 rival

The 2022 Lexus NX will be offered in three grades initially, but a plug-in hybrid version is expected to come later.

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.

2022 Lexus NX 2022 Lexus NX

Last, at least for now, will be the NX350h, with its 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol-electric hybrid powertrain, also similar to what’s already found in the RAV4 it will make approximately 160kW.

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.