THE REVEAL

DOUBLE

ACT

THE ALL-NEW LEXUS NX, THE BRAND’S BREAKTHROUGH COMPACT

CROSSOVER, IS OUT NOW. WE TAKE TWO OF THEM ON A SPIN

THROUGH THE MODERN ENVIRONMENT THEY WERE MADE FOR

Last year Lexus unveiled the LF-NX, a distinctive, compact crossover concept car that hinted at the brand’s potential drive into the crossover SUV market. Its profile was aggressive. Its motifs were bold and muscular. But it was also refined and athletic. One designer referred to it as “a lightweight fighter” – the kind of vehicle that combines strength and power with agility and finesse.

Concept cars are often one-off affairs. They’re experimental and progressive, indicative of a marque’s technical prowess. Few conceptual design elements ever make it onto a vehicle produced for the mass market. But the Lexus NX, the LF-NX’s production-ready successor, is different. It has a more measured look than its predecessor. And its headlights and mirrors have been enlarged for practical reasons. But otherwise the evolution has been linear and smooth. Sophistication has been retained, as have many of the SUV’s original design traits: the sculpted front end, the bulging rear fenders, those powerfully protruding wheel flares, that impressive body rigidity.

The car is also equipped with the brand’s first turbo engine, which comes with a water-cooled cylinder head and integrated exhaust manifold. Usually, important technological advances like this are first applied to more established models such as the LS, says chief engineer Takeaki Kato. But he made sure the NX would break that rule.

“We knew that a newly developed turbo engine would be hard to include in what we call a rookie model like the NX,” says Kato. “But it was extremely important that our very first compact SUV would be equipped with an engineering edge over its rivals to make sure it gets noticed in this increasingly competitive market.”

THE NX IS EQUIPPED WITH FEATURES DESIGNED TO SATISFY EVEN THE MOST PARTICULAR OWNERS

Against the odds, Kato’s wish was granted, but he didn’t stop there. He also assembled a team dedicated to improving handling – importantly, the NX drives more like a sedan than an SUV – and the development of a new NX transmission.

“While developing the engine, we also began work on a new six-speed automatic transmission,” Kato explains. “By incorporating a new on-demand drive control system to instantly calculate the amount of engine torque the vehicle needs at any given time, we managed to extract the most out of the turbo engine.”

In addition to the turbocharged NX 200t, Lexus has also released the NX 300h, a hybrid that comes with a damping-control system engineered to increase ride comfort. The F Sport model is also available for those who seek responsive steering and a more dynamic driving experience.

Setting performance aside, the Lexus NX is also equipped with a variety of features designed to satisfy even the most particular owners. There is the wireless charging tray, located in the center console, that lets you charge your smartphone while driving. And there is the panoramic view monitor, which gives the driver a full 360-degree view of the car’s surroundings. Cameras are installed in the front and at the rear of the body, and on its left and right sides, and the images they capture are seamlessly integrated into an overhead view displayed on the navigation monitor to make it easier to enter and leave even the tiniest parking spaces.

The NX was built with the user in mind, something the development team is very proud of. The car is bold and smart, meant for a city dweller who is always on the go. Kato said that he had analyzed customers’ needs so thoroughly that every aspect of the car had been designed not just to fulfill their wishes, but surpass them. “Therefore,” he said, “there is little left for an owner to customize.” We now know he really meant it.

  • NX 200t

  • LENGTH

    4,630mm *1

  • HEIGHT *2

    1,645mm *3

  • WIDTH

    1,845mm

  • WHEELBASE

    2,660mm

  • SEATING CAPACITY

    5

  • ENGINE TYPE

    8AR-FTS

  • CYLINDERS

    4 cylinders, In-line type

  • ENGINE OUTPUT

    175kW / 4,800-5,600rpm

  • MAX TORQUE

    350Nm / 1,650-4,000rpm

  • TRANSMISSION

    6AT

  • *1 Without license plate bracket

  • *2 Unladen vehicles

  • *3 With shark fin antenna

  • NX 300h

  • LENGTH

    4,630mm *1

  • HEIGHT *2

    1,645mm *3

  • WIDTH

    1,845mm

  • WHEELBASE

    2,660mm

  • SEATING CAPACITY

    5

  • ENGINE TYPE

    2AR-FXE

  • CYLINDERS

    4 cylinders, In-line type

  • ENGINE OUTPUT

    114kW / 5,700rpm

  • MAX TORQUE

    210Nm / 4,200-4,400rpm

  • TOTAL SYSTEM OUTPUT W/MOTOR *4

    145kW

  • TRANSMISSION

    CVT

  • *1 Without license plate bracket

  • *2 Unladen vehicles

  • *3 With shark fin antenna

  • *4 The combined total power of the engine and electric motor (using the battery) exhibited as a hybrid system. (In-house measured figures)

TEXT BY SHOGO HAGIWARA
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MIKIO HASUI
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