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Auto blogFri, 21 Jun 2013
To the untrained eye, these photos might not look like anything more than a Lexus CT 200h undergoing testing, but what we really have here is something pretty significant. According to our spies, this is actually a mule that gives us our first glimpse at the upcoming Lexus NX crossover, a smaller vehicle that will slot below the RX in the automaker's CUV portfolio - presently only one vehicle.
Look closely, and you'll note that this mule has a much higher ride height than the normal CT hybrid hatchback. The upgraded wheels with crossover-spec tires are another dead giveaway that something more robust is being tested in this CT's shell.
Late last year, we learned that Lexus had reportedly trademarked the names "NX 200t" and "NX 300h," which provided a glimpse into the powertrain offerings for the new CUV. Lexus will finally make use of turbocharged power with this new NX - a 2.0-liter turbo-four fitting of the 200t nomenclature. A hybrid variant will almost certainly be available - the 300h - probably using the same 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and electric motor combination found in the ES 300h. Our spies report that a naturally aspirated, four-cylider version should also be available.
It's a good thing senior editor Seyth Miersma doesn't live in Japan, or he wouldn't have been able to snap a photo like the one you see here, of a fresh-off-the-line Lexus RC F on hand at a first drive for media. That's because Toyota's Japanese arm has outright canceled its RC press launch. Sure, we've heard about events being delayed, but canceled? That's rare. Even worse is the reason: according to Automotive News, the event was nixed due to lack of interest. Wow.
In an email to media, Lexus said the event "has been canceled due to insufficient attendance," according to AN. The News posits that perhaps it would have just been better to hold the event anyway, in an attempt to save face, and that this is another example of the Japanese culture (especially youth) becoming less and less interested in cars. Of course, there's also the thought that local media just didn't want to drive out to Yokohama to drive the RC on a not-so-sexy press launch, which, if you ask us, is an incredibly lame excuse (do your jobs, folks!).
Either way, will this bode well for the Lexus RC's public launch? Will it receive the same lukewarm response when it arrives at Japanese dealers? We'll see.
What's in a name? When it comes to model nameplates, quite a lot, and automakers go to considerable lengths to find just the right one. Same goes for the names of the colors in the catalog (save for maybe the Rape Yellow in the extensive Bugatti palette), but every once in a while, an automaker will open it up for suggestions from the public.
SRT did that when it introduced a new shade of blue for its Viper, as did Chevy for the pale green on the Volt. And last month, Lexus followed a similar path when it asked fans on Facebook to come up with a name for the new shade of orange for the RC F.
Fans suggested names like Tangerine Flame, Outrageous Orange and Fiery Orange, but ultimately the winning submission that Lexus selected was Solar Flare. The name was suggested by five individuals and will now enter the catalog of colors for the new luxury muscle coupe with its 450-horsepower 5.0-liter V8.