Lexus Targets Compact Crossover Market

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

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The Detroit Auto Show is always a very busy time for us Japanese car news bloggers… There is so much to talk about and so little time that it’s difficult to cover everything. Many times, what would be breaking news any other week gets swept under the rug and simply doesn’t get coverage. This is exactly what happened when Lexus candidly professed their intentions to manufacture a new compact crossover to Australian car news blog, Drive.com.au.

To cut to the chase, small SUVs have become quite trendy as of late, both in the States and internationally. People love driving these compact crossovers because they perfectly blend fun and convenience. Some people like driving sedans and some people like driving SUVs, but everybody likes driving a compact crossover – they are the best of both worlds. Naturally, sales in just about every market reflect this trend. The Audi Q5 was a bestseller in Australia last year, and now they’re rushing to get the new/smaller Audi Q3 into America ASAP. The BMW X1 has virtually sold-out in Europe, and Land Rover’s Evoque is being produced at a break-neck 24/7 pace to meet demand.

With all of that being said, it’s actually somewhat surprising that the Japanese luxury car manufacturer doesn’t have a vehicle in this segment. Lexus International’s Executive Vice President Kazuo Ohara agreed when he told Drive.com.au, “Yes, we believe there is a need [for a vehicle] smaller than the RX – a smaller SUV is going to be a promising option for the global market.”

If Lexus’ plans for a new luxury compact crossover are official, the next question is how long do we have to wait until we can see how their offering compares to its competitors. According to Kazuo we should see a concept before the year is up, “maybe around the Tokyo [Auto Show]”.

It’s probably not going to come as a surprise when I tell you that we don’t really know anything specific about Lexus’ future combatant in the compact crossover segment. Fortunately, Drive.com.au was able to do a little extra prying for us. They asked Kazuo whether or not the new vehicle would be built from the same architecture as the CT200h and he replied, “it’s still secret, but we are seriously considering [it].” Apparently, Lexus has already filed trademark for an “NX” lineup, including specific model-names NX200T and NX300h. If empirical evidence is any indication, these two models likely refer to models with a turbocharged and hybrid engine, respectively.

It will definitely be exciting to see what Lexus comes up with for their new small luxury SUV. It would be a very nice surprise indeed to see a Japanese car in contention for the top vehicle in this segment. Hopefully we will see the same pizzazz and performance in the speculative NX crossover as we have already seen in the new Lexus IS sedan.

Sources: Drive.com.au, Car and Driver

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