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2015 Lexus NX partially de-cloaks ahead of 2014 Beijing Motor Show

The words “crossover” and “Lexus” usually don’t excite car lovers, but the Japanese luxury brand hopes its 2015 NX will change that.

Set to debut at the 2014 Beijing Motor Show and previewed by a couple of concepts, the NX will feature styling that could turn the rather conservative compact luxury crossover segment on its head.

That is, if the production model looks anything like the LF-NX concepts Lexus displayed at the 2013 Frankfurt and Tokyo motor shows. Both featured razor-edged styling and a bold version of Lexus’ signature “spindle grille” that seemed to be inspired by a bottom-dwelling fish that kills its prey with poisonous barbs.

The teaser image Lexus released ahead of the production NX’s Beijing debut hints that some of those elements remain.

The LED running-light slash seen on the concept is prominently featured, and will visually tie the NX to the IS sedan and RC coupe. The crossover’s headlights and grille also appear to have been reshaped to more closely resemble those of the IS.

Customer attitudes are hard to predict, especially when it comes to Lexus’ wacky designs, but the NX should provide an interesting counterpoint to the smooth curves of the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class and Lincoln MKC, and scare more conservative crossovers like the Audi Q3 and BMW X1 right out of the Starbucks parking lot.

Underneath the sci-fi styling will be two powertrains. The NX 300h will feature a hybrid setup, will the NX 200t will have a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, a first for a production Lexus.

However, the styling and up-to-date power trains may be betrayed by the NX’s bones. The baby Lexus will be based on the Toyota RAV4, not the best platform for a sporty vehicle.

While it may not have the sporty character to back up its looks, the 2015 Lexus NX could carve itself a niche in the compact luxury crossover segment through shock alone.We’ll find out at the 2014 Beijing Motor Show, which begins April 20.

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