Text: Brent Co / Photos: Kelvin Christian Go | posted April 19, 2016 08:02
A premium crossover experience
While Toyota is considered one of the pioneers in the compact crossover segment, it wasn't until 2014 that its luxury arm, Lexus, entered the increasingly popular segment. First debuted as the LF-NX Concept at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show, the production Lexus NX officially made its reveal at the Beijing Motor Show the following year.
The NX is the luxury Japanese marque's first foray into the compact crossover segment as the brand tries to woo younger vehicle buyers which traditionally look at European premium offerings. Segment-wise, the NX goes up against local Euro offerings such as the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and the Mercedes-Benz GLC.
As mentioned, the NX is targetted at younger customers. Its styling is toned on the edgier and sportier side. Front and center is the signature spindle grill with L-shaped elements such as illumination and character lines further accentuating the design. Like the IS and RC, it gets 'floating' L-shaped LED daytime-running-lights separated from the LED projector headlamps akin to a naked lens setup. The side is characterized by the buldged fender arches which give it a sense of width, while the rear features arrow-shaped LED rear lamps. A set of 18-inch wheels finish off the exterior styling.
Inside, the controls are rather straightforward and ergonomically placed, while the design feels very modern and premium. The color theme is predominantly black with silver contrast stitching on the faux leather seats, dashboard and side panels with a touch of aluminum silver. There's a generous amount of greenhouse, giving a good view of the road and surroundings. Front seats are 8-way adjustable on both sides. Phone connectivity is done via Bluetooth, which gives basic music player functions and handsfree telephony. The second row can comfortably seat three adults while the rear cargo area provides ample storage space.
Under the hood is an 8AR-FTS 2.0-liter VVT-iW DOHC inline-4 direct-injection turbo intercooler engine rated at 235 PS and 350 Nm. The NX is the first turbocharged Lexus, and the same engine will be finding its way to the IS, RC, GS and RX models as well. Furthermore, it is the first VVT-iW equipped engine which allows operation of both a modified-Atkinson cycle (which gives better efficiency at low engine loads) and Otto cycle (which gives enhanced output at higher engine speeds).
A press of the start button awakens the very able 4-cylinder turbo. Power delivery is very linear and smooth across the rev range, with minimal to almost no turbo lag at all. In the city, it runs smooth and steady, giving just the right power off-boost at low speeds with the turbo kicking in as needed if you need to overtake or just feel like going a bit fast. On the open road, its V6-like performance will satisfy the spirited driver in you. But the NX is best driven at an enjoyable pace — a balanced combination of swift and steady.
In terms of comfort, the NX takes on bumpy roads and ruts on the road with ease, providing the premium Lexus feel. Despite the increased comfort level, engineers were able to tune the suspension to perform accordingly to its atheltic exterior. It handles bends well at moderate speeds with a good amount of stopping power, while brake feel is pretty good as well.
If you're looking for luxury, the Lexus NX 200t is a practical first step into the premium segment that will set you at under 3 million Pesos. The PhP 2,848,000 pricetag even makes a serious proposition against its Toyota-badged top-spec RAV-4 cousin which retails for PhP 2,066,000.