Put simply, this wild LF-NX Turbo concept vehicle, shown to North American audiences for the first time at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, is a disguised look at the new 2015 Lexus NX crossover SUV, a compact 5-passenger model that will slot into the automaker’s lineup beneath the existing, and quite popular, Lexus RX.
That means the new Lexus NX will be less expensive, more fuel efficient, and likely a big sales hit for the brand. It also means that the next-generation RX is likely to grow in size, finally adding the three-row crossover SUV that Lexus currently lacks.
Of course, these are educated guesses, as Lexus hasn’t officially announced anything of the sort. What we do know is that Lexus has trademarked the names “NX 200t” and “NX 300h,” and we won’t have long to wait for additional details, because the production version of this new Lexus crossover SUV is slated to debut at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show.
In what might just be the automotive design understatement of the year, Lexus calls the LF-NX Turbo Concept’s styling “bold, striking, and innovative.” Headlining the diamond-inspired bodywork is an aggressive version of the new Lexus spindle grille design, framed by LED headlights, LED running lights, and LED turn signal indicators. At the rear, L-shaped taillights, a massive diffuser-style panel, and trapezoidal forms dominate the look. The LF-NX Turbo Concept wears oversized 20-inch aluminum wheels in order to fill its dramatically flared wheel wells.
According to reports, the 2015 Lexus NX won’t look much different, as the company wants to draw attention with younger buyers. Certainly, the production SUV will be toned down at the very least.
The same is likely true of the interior. Bathed in natural light thanks to the panoramic glass roof, the LF-NX Turbo Concept’s 2-tone Sunrise Yellow over Black interior is equipped with a center console that stretches through the cabin and between the two rear seats. The instrument panel is divided into what Lexus calls an upper display zone and a lower operational zone, but the radical center control panel shaped like the vehicle’s grille is probably nothing more than fantasy. What will likely transfer to the production line is the Lexus Remote Touch Interface (RTI), with its new touch-tracer display and touchpad control, and the concept of electrostatic touch-sensitive switchgear.
Lexus confirms that the concept vehicle shown above is equipped with a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, the first turbocharged engine the automaker has ever produced. Based on the trademarked names of the production NX, it’s a good bet that the 2015 Lexus NX 200t will get this new engine.
Lexus says the power plant is designed to deliver “fast throttle response,” “exhilarating performance,” and “outstanding fuel efficiency.” To ensure competitiveness, it will need to make 200-250 horsepower and plenty of torque across a broad portion of the rev range in order to go head-to-head with key rivals in the Audi Q3, BMW X1, and Mercedes-Benz GLA.
The 2015 Lexus NX 300h will almost certainly have a gas-electric hybrid powertrain combining a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, an electric assist motor, and a continuously variable transmission (CVT). In the current Lexus ES 300h, this powertrain generates a combined 200 horsepower, and provides electric-only driving at lower speeds, such as when driving in traffic or a parking lot. It’s not clear if the NX 300h will have an old-school nickel-metal hydride battery pack or modern lithium-ion technology.
When the 2015 Lexus NX goes on sale, it will likely be available with just about every technology in the automaker’s current arsenal, including electrostatic touch-sensitive controls that are similar to the ones offered in the Lexus IS Sedan. The big news on the tech front pertains to the LF-NX Turbo Concept’s Remote Touch Interface with a touch-tracer display and touchpad control. The center armrest adjusts to help make the RTI easier to use for people of different heights.
First, it’s about time Lexus developed another crossover SUV. Ahead of its time with the original RX, Lexus has been sitting on its thumbs as other companies have expanded their crossover SUV portfolios. Second, the company needs to soften the LF-NX Turbo’s sharpest edges if it wants this to be a hit. We get that something bold is necessary to attract attention in this class, but origami isn’t the answer. Third, there is tremendous potential in the production 2015 Lexus NX. Better late than never, as the saying goes.
Photos by Megan Green