Friday, July 27, 2018

Bucket Seat: Lexus NX300


The Lexus NX was the Japanese luxury car manufacturers answer to the much popular compact SUV market. With the market already being dominated by the luxury German brands, Lexus knew that it wont be an easy feat for them but credit to them, they took on the challenge and while it might not be the most popular SUV on the road, they do sell their fair share of them. With the Toyota heritage, you know you're not just getting a raised car but a proper SUV, and while it might not have full off-roading capabilities, it  will do more than just hop a curb. I got given the updated NX300 F-Sport to drive around with for a week, having seen it often on the road I was quite excited to see what it had to offer. While certain elements did surprise me about the car, it still stays true to form as every Lexus does. 


DESIGN

In 2009 Lexus changed it's design language and introduced the world to "L-Finesse Design". it is compromised by two ideas; leading-edge and finesse and was showcased in the LF-Ch concept. It was uncharacteristic from the company, as they always played the safe, conservative card when it came to their designs, in fact many labelled them as "boring" but these was anything but boring! The lines, the edges, the sleekness of the overall package just left people astounded but it was a concept so how much of this would translate into the production models? Well a lot if it! From the IS, RC, LX, RX and the recently launched LC, Lexus has changed the way people see their brand, its exciting, cutting edge and futuristic. Much is the same with the NX, the lines on this car sometimes seem impossible but some how they've done, and done it with style.  When I got the NX, I tweeted some pictures and said, "I'm driving the best looking compact SUV on the road at the moment" and no one disagreed. 


No matter what angle you look at the NX, it is perfection, the F-Sport guise which I had, gives the model more character with the large spindle grille and the brushed aluminium front sill which ties along the front. The split head lamps with LED day time running lights below just add to the flamboyance of the design. Another great thing about Lexus is the paint offerings, with a car like this, no ordinary paint will make it stand out, so the range they have available really elevated the design in every possible way. I was driving a White Quartz which is almost like a pearl white but with more sheen. It's sparkles in minimal light and you can watch it for hours catching the suns rays which it transform colour throughout the day. The large 18" alloy wheels were finished in a dark metal, which accentuates the car and adds to the aggressive look. While being modern and futuristic the entire package works well and ties up quite nicely in the rear with a clean but edgy look. The Side profile is rather attractive too, with big wheel arches showing off that raised suspension. 


PERFORMANCE

When the NX was first introduced, it came in the NX300 which was naturally aspirated, later on, the NX200t was introduced, sporting a 2.0 litre turbocharged engine, in the latest upgrade the NX300 badge is re-introduced but with the turbo engine, which in my opinion is the right way to go. While the purist might appreciate naturally aspirated engines, in the type of driving people do on the regular, turbos make a whole lot more sense and also brings down that fuel economy figure. The NX is a big car, so don't be mistaken by the the "compact", part of its description, it competes with the likes of the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and the Mercedes-Benz GLC, if you comparing it to its sister company, you could probably say this is a more luxurious version of the Rav-4. The engine is a breakthrough for Lexus as they say it is their first Eco Turbo engine, where by the cylinder head is integrated with the exhaust manifold along with the twin scroll turbocharger which is a worlds first in this combination. This achieves 235 bhp,  175kW and 350Nm of torque. The turbo lag is almost non existent, so much so you might think there isn't a turbo in there. The torque does help a lot in this aspect of the car, it is also a well balanced vehicle, so around bends or in a straight line, it gives the driver confidence in what they're doing. 


COMFORT

Moving onto the inside of the car, the design follows the same lines as the outside with more quirky styling and a protruding but sculpted center console, which for some might not be their cup of tea but it works. There's a nice mixture of textures and fabrics on the interior that makes it inviting and comfortable to be in. The brushed aluminium and chrome aspects shout out the sportiness of the F-Sport but the elements of class are brought in with the analogue clock placed high up just below the aircon vents. Ride quality on the NX is quite soft, not as smooth as the bigger Lexus SUV offerings but that could also be down to the large rims on the car but for everyday driving it could rival any German competitor. The car comes with dual climate control air-conditioning as well as seat warmers and coolers for the front occupants. In the rear, there is ample space for the passengers with good height room, given the shape of the car I thought it would be a bit tight but it was more than adequate. The boot space is quite generous as well and the automatic tailgate means there's no stretching to close the lid when you're done. 


TECHNOLOY

The NX might not be packed with tech options like some other brands but what it does offer is a lot of the compulsory stuff as standard and not something you need to tick off on a sheet. That was always the difference with Lexus, while their prices might seem a bit steep when comparing to other vehicles in its class, a big mistake people would do is compare the Lexus which is fully stocked to a base model of another brand. Some of the standard tech for me is the LED lights which in this day and age is a must, the smart entry system works really well with it doubling as a proximity sensor so the car when locked recognizes when you're near it and unlocks for you, don't worry if you're nearby and someone else tries to open the door, it won't open.  The large 10.3" multimedia display is quite easy on the eye but the touch pad might take a while to get used to. I watched a review on the LS500 where they said, the only reason we find it tricky to use is because we're not used to it, and they were 100% correct. After 4 days or so, you kind get to know what you're doing with it. Some of the driver support systems like Hill assist control kicks in automatically, so when taking off from a stand still on a hill, the electronic brake holds the car in place until there is enough momentum to move forward. AI shift control technology works well when in Sports mode which enables sporty shifting in accordance with the driving conditions which provides excellent acceleration. 


VERDICT

Apart from its great looks the NX300 F-Sport is really a good package, it delivers what it promises and you won't be disappointed. While the alternative options in the market might have some differences that make you want to change your mind, all you have to do is put them side by side, and you can see why you'll stand out more in this car. The great thing about compact SUV's is that it can be used for so much more than just road trips and light off-roading, with many choosing this segment of cars, it pushes brands to make their vehicles appealing, so like the NX you're going to get more luxury, more sportiness, more technology in them and for me the NX already ticks all those boxes and is a perfect all-rounder. While the acclaimed fuel consumption is 7.1, you will average around 9 in city driving which again is not that bad when comparing to other cars in the segment, its a pity Lexus doesn't offer a diesel variant but there is a Hybrid model available and it isn't that much more expensive. 


SPECIFICATIONS

 Engine
 2.0 Litre tubro
 Gear Box
 6 Speed Auto
 Power
175kW
 Torque
350Nm
 Top Speed
200km/h (electronically governed)
 Economy
7.1 L/100km
 Price
 R797,500





























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