2.0L Turbo I4 - 6-Speed Auto
235 HP @ 5500
258 lb-ft @ 1650-4000
The 2015 Lexus NX200t, is the firms brute force attempt to lure a younger audience for their products. Lexus hopes it will become the portal through which “fresh blood” will cross the dealership doors and sign the bill of sale papers. It is the company’s first ever compact crossover and with it, it brings their first ever turbo charged engine.
Chasing after a younger audience, Lexus recognized the importance of a modern and attractive design and my word did they succeed. The NX (especially in the F Sport package) looks smoking hot; the spindle grille, pushed inward LED headlights, extremely aggressive bumpers, sculpted sides, that angular anaglyphic tail… it all looks phenomenal. Interestingly, it looks good in pictures but only in real life does it showcase that emotionally striking design.
To make your driveway prettier or your condo parking spot stand out, you’ll need to fork out $40,950 and if you want the flashy F Sport series 2 trim like our tester, add another $12,100 on top of that. Indeed, $53,050 is not an amount most youngsters can afford, but thanks to leasing and financing I am sure many will fall for it. At least the features included are impressive. All the driving aids are present, including stability control, hill start assist, dynamic torque control, dual zone climate control, adaptive suspension, lane keep assist, collision warning, wireless charging, adaptive cruise control, heads-up-display, rear view camera and rear cross traffic alert, auto lights and wipers, bluetooth connectivity, power liftgate, navigation, sunroof, leather seating and steering wheel and much more.
Inside the cabin, the design is less dramatic, but still very clever, luxurious and modern. It’s all well built too. The centre console is home to the gear lever, drive mode switch, touchpad and a pull out portable mirror. I bet you’ve never seen that before. The materials used are a mixture of hard and soft plastics, leather and metallic silver trim bits. Fit and finish is way above average and the blend between the various materials has worked well, synthesizing a very upmarket feel and tasteful design. The switch gear feels good and ergonomically everything is very easy and intuitive to operate. Even the touch pad style commander is very good and effective to use.
The F Sport trim level comes with outstanding seats that support the body really well and are also able to keep you relaxed for extended periods of time. Truthfully, they are among the best seats I’ve sat in this year. Both the driver and passenger have a snug fit to the car, with the dashboard and door panels surrounding them in a very cozy and secure fashion. Roominess is good but not to ample to ruin the sporty snug feeling. Despite sharing the wheelbase with the Rav4, passengers sitting in the back seats of the NX will find it a bit tighter thanks to the thicker front seats and more intrusive door panels. Headroom is adequate and so is the legroom at the height of the knees, but at the lower “shin” level it is a bit tight, especially if you have big feet like mine. The trunk is an ample 500 L but the angular rear window and high floor kind of compromise practicality. There are hidden compartments below the floor mat, so smaller things can be stored and secured in place. Folding the rear seats helps create a larger loading area that is always handy in a crossover.
Being able to attract a younger audience is one thing. Holding on to them after the test drive is another and as such, the driving enjoyment experience becomes very important in this Lexus. It is no secret that the rest of the firm’s vehicles (minus the IS, RC and LFA) are not the most interesting cars to drive, but that is not a problem since the target audience simply doesn’t care. The NX however, had to be able to satisfy the more active and energetic lifestyle of the new breed of buyers the firm is looking for. In that sense, the NX actually delivers quite well.
Road comfort is what you’d expect from a crossover that likes to think of itself as upmarket. It is soft enough to soak up the majority of road imperfections and at the same time it remains composed and quiet. The interior is well put together, so there is no unwanted soundtrack when the suspension is hard at work. On the highway, there is a little wind noise but nothing the sound system won’t cover. Being soft does have an impact on handling; not quite that much in terms of true ability, but surely in terms of feel. The NX can corner with just reasonable body roll, pointing its nose quite precisely at entry. The body is controlled with safety in mind, so it is not very playful, while during our tests we recorded 0.77g side acceleration which is not bad at all for a crossover on winter tires. If the steering was a bit heavier and quicker, perhaps the overall feeling would’ve been much better, but as is, this crossover is definitely tuned for comfort. The tricky part is the visual experience while behind the wheel. The sporty dash and snug seating position create a tiny false impression of increased involvement levels, so walking away you’d actually be happy about the dynamic character the NX showcases.
In a straight line, the 2.0L 4-cylinder engine is… wait for it… turbo charged and outputs 235HP and 258 lb-ft of torque. This translates in hitting 100km/h in just 7.2 seconds, taking full advantage of the quick 6-Speed automatic gearbox. Performance is generally good, once you put your foot down, but otherwise, the green “ECO” sign will be on and throttle response will be… off. The cool thing about this engine is that when under light load, it can switch to the Atkinson Cycle, improving fuel economy even further than just killing the throttle response. The result is not groundbreaking, but at 12L/100km on a combined cycle, it is not bad for the power it packs when needed. The brake pedal was strong and linear without much lifeless travel to it. The brakes resisted fade well and from 100km/h brought the vehicle to a complete stop in 45m, while on winter tires.
All in all, the NX200t is a very worthy contender in the segment of compact premium crossovers. Its uncompromising styling, modern technology, high levels of refinement and great comfort levels will definitely attract a huge amount of buyers.
Not very exciting to drive