Lexus launches first seven-seat RX in LA as BMW confirms electric Mini for 2019

Seven-seat hybrid SUV will come to Ireland late next year

The new seven-seat Lexus RX - coming to Ireland next year

The new seven-seat Lexus RX - coming to Ireland next year

 

Lexus has broken with 15 years of five-seat tradition for the RX SUV model and will offer a seven-seat version late next year. The new seven-seater will arrive in Ireland in the second half of 2018, and will be Lexus’ first European-market seven-seater.

Actually, it will also be available as a six-seater, as buyers will be able to choose between a bench seat in the middle row, or two, more luxurious, individual seats. That option hasn’t been confirmed for Ireland yet, though.

New seven-Seat Lexus RX
New seven-Seat Lexus RX

The seven-seat RX, which will be badged as RX450h-L when it arrives here, gains an extra 110mm in length over the current five-seat model, almost all of which is in the rear overhang. The rear hatch also sits more upright now, so as to allow for decent headroom for the occupants of the third row. That extra row of seats power-folds flat into the boot floor when not in use, and there are air conditioning controls for those third-row occupants.

No prices have yet been announced, but incoming new Lexus Ireland boss Ian Corbett says that he expects the extra seats to drive extra demand. “Demand for RX is strong for 181 as we are seeing owners within the segment looking for a real alternative to diesel,” Corbett told The Irish Times. “We expect that the arrival of the seven-seater will generate new conquest customers for RX from drivers who do require a premium hybrid seven seat vehicle.”

Meanwhile BMW has said it plans to launch a new, electric Mini model in 2019. Eventually, Mini could become an entirely electric brand, aimed at urban consumers, according to board member Peter Schwarzenbauer.

The new BMW i8 plug-in hybrid roadster, unveiled during at the LA Auto Show.
The new BMW i8 plug-in hybrid roadster, unveiled during at the LA Auto Show.

The firm used the LA motor show to reveal its updated range of i8 hybrid sports cars, this time including an open-topped roadster.

On a separate issue, Schwarzenbauer said BMW intended to offer a self-driving car planned to debut in 2021 at a price that could be below $100,000.

The iNEXT model, which BMW previewed earlier this year, will be offered to individuals, ride services fleets and put into service in BMW fleets, Schwarzenbauer said.

“By 2021, you will have a lot of people who want to own this car,” he said. “It will be a normal price. We are thinking of scaling this. To bring a $150,000 electric car is nice, but it will not really scale.” When it launches, the iNEXT may not be offered with complete, so-called Level 5, autonomy because the regulatory and legal frameworks for such a vehicle likely won’t be in place, Schwarzenbauer said.

– Additional reporting: Reuters