Can Lexus NX Compact Stand up to the Audi Q5?

Posted on 19 February, 2014

Although the Lexus LF-NX concept was expected to debut at the Geneva show in March later this year, information on the production version has been leaked online sparking off all manner of speculation regarding its potential as a contender in the premium SUV market.

Reportedly, according to industry analysts including those writing for the Lexus NX has the Audi Q5 in its sights, along with the Range Rover Evoque and the BMW X3 as it hopes to compete with the best the market currently has to offer. Click here to track the discussion further on their Facebook page.

The NX is not scratch-built and there appear to be a number of elements that will be pleasingly familiar to fans of the Japanese premium brand. Its architecture is similar to that which underpins the Toyota RAV4 and this production-ready version is much more aligned with the mainstream SUV look than the more controversial version that divided opinion so severely at the Frankfurt motor show last September.

However, its all new hybrid powertrain and 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine means that it is enough of a departure from previous models to potentially give it a unique edge.

Although details are still a little sketchy, it will be interesting to see how this forceful new Lexus holds up against the slimmed down and refreshed 2014 version of the Q5. As the 3.0-litre SQ5 diesel with Audi’s Quattro four-wheel-drive system (fitted to every model in the line up) develops 650Nm of torque, it can achieve 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds yet still maintains an official average fuel consumption of 41.5mpg along with emissions of 179g/km. That kind of combination is hard to find at a similarly affordable price.

The Lexus team sound quietly confident though, as Toyota USA’s CEO Jim Lentz recently said at the Society of Automotive Analysts’ Automotive Outlook Conference that: “the new force-fed engine would pave the way for turbos, for the future, in Lexus models – and turn a few heads along the way.”

The NX’s chief designer went a little further. Nobuyuki Tomatsu was quoted saying: “We want this to be a very influential car – one to make its rivals look boring.”

Bold words! Perhaps even bolder aspirations from Lexus as they prepare to take on a vehicle roundly commended for satisfying that niche in the motoring market for a SUV that handles more like a car but with the “command” position that so many modern city drivers now crave.

Naturally, the leaked details have escalated excitement surrounding its intended launch in March. That will give Lexus the opportunity to explain exactly how the NX will make its more established counterparts look “boring”. Currently, the less than dramatic architecture suggests that the Q5 shouldn’t be quaking in its boots just yet.