Lexus Australia is currently investigating demand for a diesel version of its flagship SUV, to sit alongside the current V8 petrol LX 570.
Despite being available in overseas markets, including New Zealand, and the popularity of diesel engines in large SUVs in Australia, the LX 450d hasn’t been seen as the right fit for Australian buyers, despite Toyota selling both petrol and diesel variants of the LandCruiser 200 that the LX is based on.
Peter McGregor, Lexus Australia CEO revealed to TMR that the brand has been in touch with its dealers to see if demand exists for a diesel-powered variant.
"We are relooking at it … from a study point of view," McGregor said of the diesel variant, which has been evaluated but passed-over for Australia previously.
A diesel variant would bring a massive improvement in fuel consumption, improving on the 14.4 l/100km official fuel figures for the LX 570 and settling much closer to the 9.5 l/100km figure of the LandCruiser Sahara diesel V8.
While a diesel engine sounds like a natural fit for the LX range, a potential Australian-bound version wouldn’t match the specification of its petrol-powered sibling being restricted to five seats instead of the eight-seat configuration of the LX 570.
The reason for the reduction comes down to weight, with the heavier diesel engine impacting the LX’s gross vehicle mass, or GVM, the maximum weight the vehicle has been engineered to carry.
Although the related LandCruiser is able to offer three rows of seats and a diesel engine, the heavier LX with added luxury features, height-adjustable air suspension, and a more comprehensive sound system tips the scales at a point that means it is unlikely to keep its full seating capacity.
Overseas markets including Russia and New Zealand have opted to take the LX 450d in its five-seat configuration, but Australia was still being cautious with McGregor explaining; "If I could match the specification of the LX570 with a diesel there wouldn't be a much of a study to be undertaken. It really comes down to: in the specification we can bring it to market in Australia given the constraints that we're under, is there a market for it?"
Dealers haven’t been unanimous in their support of a five-seat LX, despite other luxury SUVs like the flagship Range rover only coming with five seats.
“Some people were enthusiastic for it, some people thought the [third row of seats] was critical," McGregor said. "I'm not convinced yet that seven seats is mandatory but the initial feedback from some of our dealers is that it was."
Pricing could also be a sticking point for the new model which would be priced above the $120,590 eight-seat LandCruiser Sahara, but as per the example of New Zealand would need to fit in underneath the $140,500 price of the LX 570 to reflect its difference in equipment.
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