2015 Lexus NX debuts with more civilized skin and optional turbo engine

After two concept-car previews, the 2015 Lexus NX compact crossover is finally here … and it looks angry.

Set to formally debut at the 2014 Beijing Motor Show, the pair of LF-NX concepts shown last fall in Frankfurt and Tokyo have generated plenty of buzz regarding the production NX’s styling.

While it’s not quite as sci-fi as those concepts, the 2015 NX will definitely stand out in the somewhat conservative small crossover segment.

Lexus applied its full range of styling tropes, including a massive “spindle grille”, slim headlights and taillights, and LED slashes, which sit above sculpted jowls that make the NX look like a cybernetic Richard Nixon.

Move away from that bold face, though, and things get a little more typical. Unlike the LF-NX twins, the side surfacing doesn’t look like it will cut you if you run your fingers across, but it’s also a bit blander.

It’s the same story at the back, despite the many, seemingly random folds in the sheet metal. Buyers might want to consider the optional F Sport package for some added flair.

The styling is pretty good overall, though, and you’d never guess that it conceals the bones of a Toyota RAV4, which shares a platform with the NX.

U.S. buyers will get two flavors of NX. The NX 300h hybrid will be the efficient choice, while sporty soccer moms will probably prefer the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder NX 200t, Lexus’ first turbo production model.

Lexus hasn’t released details on either powertrain, but it’s possible the NX 300h will use the ES 300h’s 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four and electric motor, which develop a combined 200 horsepower.

A naturally-aspirated NX 200 will be sold outside the U.S. Front-wheel drive will be standard; all-wheel drive will be optional.

Like the styling and mechanicals, the 2015 NX’s interior borrows heavily from existing models. As with other Lexuses (Lexii?) the infotainment interface is divided into two sections for primary and secondary information, and the Remote Touch controller is planted on the center console.

The lumpy center stack isn’t the most elegant design, but hopefully it will make controls easier to reach.

As with most products of its ongoing reinvention, Lexus hopes the NX will appeal to younger buyers. We’ll find out if it hits the mark – or just scares Lexus’ traditional clientele – when the 2015 NX goes on sale this fall.

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