Aggressive push into more affordable territory as Lexus prepares to launch zesty, compact LBX crossover model
When the LBX is launched in Australia in mid-2024 as the smallest of the brand’s six SUV models, Lexus will regard its product portfolio as being largely complete.
The compact LBX is expected to pull its weight as an attractive entry point for the brand that gets younger Australians hooked on core Lexus virtues – quality and an easy ownership experience.
“[The LBX] will give us the opportunity to get younger people coming in for their first vehicle in the luxury space if they can get that affordability,” Lexus boss John Pappas told Chasing Cars.
“That younger buyer will be in [a more affordable] price point. They will be either looking at a premium mass market or an entry-level luxury [vehicle].”
The LBX makes use of a 1.5-litre non-turbo three-cylinder petrol engine teamed with a standard hybrid system. Combined power is 100kW, and AWD is optional.
Chasing Cars tested the LBX on a closed road in late 2023 and found the small SUV to have pleasant dynamics and a more refined cabin than expected.
While Pappas would not name a guide price at this early stage, we expect to see the LBX made available from around $50,000 before on-road costs in Australia.
Introducing a cheaper, smaller model is a bold move for Lexus with several luxury rivals – including Audi and Mercedes-Benz – set to abandon the segment citing to profitability concerns. Meanwhile, BMW has considerably enlarged its X1 to appeal to family buyers.
On the contrary, Pappas suggests that selling a more affordable Lexus model is key to securing customer loyalty at an earlier stage.
“[LBX buyers] will come into the family and as their needs diversify, we have the product offering to make them a Lexus customer for life,” he said.
Even with some rivals set to leave the stage in the coming years, the LBX will arrive in a reasonably contested segment in Australia. In 2023, Audi sold 1486 examples of the Q2 while Mercedes sold 1881 GLA-Class small SUVs.
Above the LBX, which shares some of its platform with the Toyota Yaris Cross, Lexus sells six bigger SUVs: the UX, NX, RX and LX, while the brand will launch the Toyota Prado-aligned GX model almost simultaneously with the LBX.
“As long as we…maintain our portfolio of cars [and] our point of difference with our exceptional ownership experience, it is an opportunity to become part of the Lexus family for the long term.”
As well as being designed to attract a younger set, the LBX will find a significant second-car audience, with retirees mooted as another base by Pappas.
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