Lexus has revealed its answer to the Range Rover Evoque at the Frankfurt motor show in the shape of an athletic, avant-garde compact SUV concept called the Lexus LF-NX.

This five-door premium soft-roader is part of an exercise intended to gauge the reaction of European show-goers to a bolder and more aggressive design than they’re used to - in a class where the Evoque is an exception rather than the rule, and where the dominant powers are such conservative cars as the Audi Q5 and BMW X3. “We want this to be a very influential car — one to make its rivals look boring,” says design project manager Nobuyuki Tomatsu.

The design of the production car is still to be decided. “This isn’t one of those show cars that is 95 per cent representative of something finished,” Tomatsu says. “We have taken a risk, and we hope the reaction will be positive. If it is, there is no reason why our production car couldn’t look like this.”

Power comes from an adaptation of the Hybrid Synergy Drive system from the American market’s Lexus ES300h saloon. That means the front wheels will be driven by a combination of a 156bhp 2.5-litre petrol engine and an electric motor, serving up 200bhp in total. “We haven’t ruled out four-wheel drive for the finished car,” says Tomatsu. “The powertrain is just a starting point for us.”

The LF-NX’s exterior styling is a sounding board for several individual developments of features of the Lexus L-Finesse design language. Its spindle grille is larger than it is on Lexus’s current production crop, and features a diamond-shaped mesh conveying a more vivid sense of density and strength.

At the rear, that spindle shape is echoed in the sheet metal around the lights. And both of the character lines along the car’s flanks — the boomerang shoulderline and kinked lower feature line — have been exaggerated to create added dynamism.

The cabin of the LF-NX is designed to make an equally strong impact. It contrasts dark grey with ‘sunrise yellow’ leather. An axe-themed centre console, topped by satin chrome, creates a feeling of strength for both front and back-row occupants, while switchgear has been kept to a minimum.

At the head of that console, Lexus’s familiar, mouse-like Remote Touch Interface controller has been replaced by a simpler Audi-style fingertip touchpad.

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