Every so often a manufacturer just nails it in terms of first impressions! And I can confidently say that Lexus has nailed it with its compact premium crossover or compact SUV. The minute I saw it in the metal, my heart started to pound and I knew then and there that I wanted to love this car. But I was yet to drive it, so I had to remain objective.
First, the ever-so-hot styling. The NX will not fade in to the background by any means. It stands out and doesn’t look like any other car on the road. It doesn’t sway much from the “extrovertly and aggressively” crafted LF-NX concept that Lexus showcased back in 2013. As Aidan Castille, Lexus’s senior manager for product planning, put it, “There is a coolness about the NX that will make customers fall in love with it at first glance.” It worked with me.
Step inside and it is as impressive as the exterior. Soft materials envelope the cabin in a way that makes it feel world class. The seats are so soft I could not stop rubbing my hand along them when I was a passenger. Speaking of the rear, I was a little disappointed in legroom space when seated behind my 6ft driving partner. But when a smaller framed driver got in to position there was ample room. Let’s just hope it is the short-legged market who opts for this car. Back to the rest of the interior; you can expect standard features on the entry level model (the E) such as smart entry, cruise control, multifunction steering wheel, electric windows and mirrors, touch-sensitive cockpit lighting in overhead console (which is a bundle of fun and will get you many ‘ooohs and aaaah’ from your friends), dual-zone automatic climate control, 8-speaker display audio with 7.1 inch screen, bluetooth, stop start and a 4.2-inch multi-information display.
At the local launch we experienced the the next trim level up (the EX) as well as the F-Sport model. The F-Sport adds a sunroof, F-sport leather upholstery with sport seats, wood trim garnish, heated and ventilated seats, a booster meter which displays turbocharger pressure levels and a G Sensor which shows the vehicles lateral and longitudinal forces.
The NX 200t is the first Lexus model to get the company’s 2.0-litre turbocharged direct injection petrol engine which saw nine years in development. With 175 kW of power and 350N.m of torque, the engine feels lively and power delivery is smooth. It is also impressively quiet. The ride (when not in sport mode and even then) is comfortable and the car feels very solid on the road. It is effortless driving, which sells it for me.
Safety features are pretty obvious, it is a Lexus after all. But just think 8 standard airbags, ABS, EBD, hill-start assist, Lexus Dynamic Torque COntrol AWD, and reverse camera (except on E grade).
Pedestrian protection includes an energy-absorbing structure for the bonnet and the fender-mounting bracket, as well as an impact-absorbing structure for the cowl. Energy-absorbing material has been adopted in front of the bumper reinforcement and under the radiator support to protect the legs of pedestrians in the event of a collision.
Inside, the NX has energy-absorbing structures in the pillars and roof head lining. There are impact-absorbing pads in the front and rear door trim, adjacent to the occupant’s lumbar region, to reduce side impact injury.
Pricing will see the NX 200t E coming in at R539 900.
The 200t EX is priced at R579 900 and the F-Sport at R659 900.
The hybrid derivative, the 300h EX costs R633 000.
I am so excited about this car and can see it hitting its fellow German competitors where it hurts. It’s a special car, inside and out. I know this sounds like I am talking about a person, but bear in mind I did drive it on Valentine’s day. It’s all about the love really.