The Lexus NX combines luxury with high-tech, but is it enough to fend off established rivals asks Geraldine Herbert
What is it?The luxury compact crossover segment is the new battleground for premium carmakers and not surprisingly this lucrative sector is the fastest-growing segment of the car market and Lexus is eager to tap into this lucrative niche with their new NX
Who is it aimed at? The Compact SUVsegment is dominated by the likes of Volvo’s XC60, BMW’s X3 and Range Rover’s Evoque so the NX needs to very special to stand out from this crowd.
Styling?While instantly recognisable as a Lexus the front is dominated by the vast spindle grille which dwarfs the LED headlights and L-shaped daytime running lights. Look beyond the flared arches and sculpted body and there are some very elegant touches such as the door handle with a hidden key slot and integrated lighting
Under the Bonnet? The NX is powered by the familiar combination of a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and electric motor, AWD versions have a second motor sending torque to the rear axle.
What about inside? Inside this aggressive-looking NX is a beautifully minimalist cabin with a range of new features that make it standout from the rest of the Lexus range. Soft-touch materials are offset by the metallic silver-lined centre stack and the quality throughout is excellent. There are plenty of practical features, including a split-folding rear seat and more novel additions including a wireless charging pad for smartphones and an optional Mark Levinson hi fi. Despite the sloping roofline it is also practical and Lexus tell us it has the best luggage load length in its segment
On the Road?It is at cruising speeds that the NX comes into its own and there is a soothing level of refinement. While it is never going to rival the Range Rover Evoque for driving dynamics the NX is responsive and confident in the bends and very easy to drive. The steering is solid but the CVT gear box is noisy, accelerating in any way harshly has the engine revs screaming,
And Safety?. There is plenty of high-tech wizardry to keep you and anyone you might hit safe including the advanced Pre-Crash Safety system (PCS), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), All-Speed Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Lane Keep Assist (LKA), Blind Spot Monitor (BSM), Automatic High Beam (AHB) and Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA).
Options? There are six trims available on the NX and a choice of front wheel drive and awd drive options. The Executive is the only trim offered with a choice of front or all-wheel-drive while the F-Sport and Premium versions have AWD as standard
Will it break the bank?Prices for the entry level NX are €43,000. Our FWD Executive trim test car is priced at €50,950
Economy?As you’d expect from a hybrid the front wheel models emit a mere 116g/km and return a claimed 5 litre per 100km or 56.5mpg fuel efficient. While the official fuel economy figures for the AWD version start at CO2 emissions of only 121g/km and 5.3 or 53.3mpg
Verdict? In this competitive market Lexus is offering a vehicle with a blend of comfort and luxury that will appeal to a very wide market. With the NX Lexus may not put the sport back into sport utility vehicle but the NX is more efficient and better equipped than rivals and is a compelling choice for buyers that want to step into a premium brand.
Why you’ll buy one? Distinctive Styling; exquisite cabin; economical
Why you won’t? Disappointing driving dynamics; CVT Gearbox
Range Rover Evoque prices from €41,395
Volvo XC60 prices from €39,995
Watch our video review below (Video Filming by Kyran O’Brien)
Lexus NX Executive FWD
Engine: 2494cc,2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor, 197hp at 5,700rpm, 210Nm at 4,200- to 4,400rpm
Max speed: 180km/h
0-100 kph: 9.2 seconds
Emissions (Motor Tax) : 121g/km ( €270 per annum)
Model price: €43,950 (Test Model, €50,950)
No of Doors: 5 doors
Euro NCAP : 5 stars
Fuel type: Petrol/Electric
Fuel Economy (combined cycle): 5.2 l/100km(54.3mpg)
Boot Capacity Seats up: 555 litres
Wheelbase: 2660 mm
17th December, 2014