This month, Lexus revealed the NX, an all-new model that encapsulates three of the brand’s most important efforts to remain a big player in the increasingly competitive luxury market.
The NX is the brand’s first entry into the red-hot small crossover segment. It’s the first Lexus with a turbocharged engine, and the latest step in a years-long effort to make cars that appeal to drivers’ sense of style.
Jumping Into A Red-Hot Segment
The SUV and crossover market is “bread and butter to us,” Lexus Corporate Manager of Marketing Communications Brian Bolain told Business Insider at the New York Auto Show last week. But the cars have been mostly popular among Americans.
“For such a long time, it was a specifically U.S. phenomenon,” Bolain said. Now, “there’s just suddenly an immense desire for small crossovers.” This “is probably the first time I remember seeing one segment on fire globally, at an equal pace … across Europe, across Asia, across North America.”
So it’s no surprise the competition will be fierce. By Jalopnik’s count, 20 crossover models and concept debuted at the Beijing Auto Show this week. A bunch more had their coming out parties at the New York show.
More Power, Less Fuel
The all-new NX is not only the first small crossover from Lexus, it’s the first time the brand has offered a turbocharged engine. Turbos have picked up in popularity in recent years thanks to their ability to deliver more power along with improved fuel efficiency.
The NX will also come as a hybrid. (A model with a naturally aspirated 2.o-liter engine will be available in China and Russia.) Among the luxury brands, Lexus has been particularly successful in the hybrid market, selling more than half a million units to date. That’s where its focus will remain, according to Bolain. “There’s no plan currently” to start making electric or diesel-powered cars,” he said. “We’re still really reliant on hybrid.”
For the past two years, since the introduction of the fourth generation GS sedan, Lexus has been making a special effort to build cars with a real sense of style. No more slab-sided cars — Lexus wants to present a “more youthful, certainly more contemporary, more innovative” image, Bolain said.
Customers interviewed before the launch of the NX “wanted to focus on how they look in it,” Bolain said — so style is key. Not everyone will like the look of the little crossover, but it definitely has character.
The NX will go on sale in the second half of 2014. Pricing hasn’t been announced, but expect it to be below the $US39,760 MSRP for the bigger Lexus RX.
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