Lexus will return fire at the growing number of competitors in the compact coupe crossover segment including Audi's recent Q2, with a new model that will be based on the UX Concept first revealed at last year's Paris motor show.
The plan to produce a sub-NX compact crossover was confirmed by Lexus International executive vice-president Yoshihiro Sawa at the Geneva motor show this week, who said the success of its NX and RX models had revealed the potential of smaller SUVs.
"We already introduced the (small) concept model and so far NX is so successful – NX and RX. We are kind of confident with the small concept cars."
When asked if the company was considering a smaller compact crossover positioned below the current smallest NX SUV, Mr Sawa leapfrogged to the confirmation that a production version of the UX Concept show car was already under development.
"We are doing. Of course we are doing. Please expect UX," he said.
Exactly when the smallest SUV in the Lexus ranks will be unveiled is not yet confirmed, but Mr Sawa said the new entry-level model was "not so far away".
Lexus's recent run of SUV concepts have typically carried a majority of their styling features from the show floor through to the showroom and the latest UX is likely to do the same, with its family trademark large spindle grill and edgy exterior design expected in the production car.
Construction and technical details are still very much under wraps at this stage but the Japanese car maker is likely to borrow parent company Toyota's New Global Architecture which underpins the similarly-sized C-HR SUV.
Australian prospects for the new model are still too distant to speculate, but Lexus Australia product PR and events manager Nick Raman has previously stated that the company would put its hand up for a compact SUV if one became available.
"We would be very interested in the UX if it became available as a production vehicle," he said at the time.
In addition to the obvious rival of the Audi Q2, larger models such as the Mini Countryman, Infiniti QX30, Mercedes GLA and BMW X1 could also face competition from the new Lexus.
Mr Sawa concluded by explaining that the company was continuing to target new and younger customers with the fresh range of SUVs as well as retaining its loyal base of long-standing customers.
"Except IS and small car CT, Lexus owners' age becomes older and older. Because loyal users are always changing the car, but the average age is going up. So this year we would like to shift buyers' age to younger. Maybe two peaks – younger buyer and loyal buyer."
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