Lexus has refreshed its NX in South Africa. The NX is available in a more affordable 2WD version with a saving of R24 000.
KwaZulu-Natal - Did you know the Lexus headquarters in Japan houses 7700 employees of which 19 are takumi (master craftsman). These takumi (with about 25 years experience) must be able to fold an origami cat with their non-dominant hand in less than 90 seconds...
All Lexus models from 1989 to 2005 were marketed under Toyota until the brand finally came into its own.
The LS was the car which gave the company prominence in the luxury market and the NX was Lexus’ first foray into the compact premium SUV market.
The refreshed NX - which stands for nimble crossover - features an angular design language, with strong body lines and prominent contouring. Underpinned by the iconic Lexus spindle grille, the NX is a prominent member within the Lexus family, and is the automaker's best-selling vehicle even here in South Africa.
The 2017 NX has undergone some minor upgrades including cosmetic styling and some tweaking of its standard specification. The latest NX models are set to reach Lexus dealerships in January 2018.
New naming convention
Lexus says as part of the brand's global strategy, the ‘200t’ moniker (signifying a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine) has been replaced by ‘300’.
"The 300 badging bears reference to offering an equivalent power output to that of a 3.0-litre powerplant – this has been adopted to achieve parity between the petrol - and hybrid engine models’ badging convention," says Lexus.
The badging has been changed to NX 300 in E, EX and F Sport versions respectively.
All models in the range receive styling refinements, with new headlights, a bold new grille with a chromed frame, a redesigned side grille, bumper and lower bumper elements.
At the rear, there are new LED combination lights. The rear bumper and license plate garnish have also been tweaked to give the NX a more athletic stance.
So what's new in the range?
The entry E-grade model now adopts a 2WD drivetrain, delivering power to the front wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission. The change to 2WD from AWD (all-wheel drive) brings with it, a reduction in fuel consumption and vehicle weight, as well as R24 000 cheaper compared to the entry-level model in the previous range.
The EX and F Sport derivatives retain the AWD configuration and 6-speed automatic transmissions.
The established 2.0-litre turbocharged ‘4-pot’ engine remains intact (on NX300 variations), delivering 175kW/350Nm between 1650 and 4000rpm.
Lexus reckons the engine utilises a combination of port – and direct injection (known as D-4ST) along with Variable Valve Timing intelligent Wide (VVTi-W), to optimise combustion in the pursuit of both power and efficiency.
The Hybrid-powered NX300h, uses a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor. The petrol plus electric coupling delivers a total system output of 150kW.
What's it like to drive?
I experienced the NX 300 on a rouete from King Shaka International Airport to Karkloof Safari Villas just outside Pietermaritzburg. I also drove the F Sport variant while returning to the airport.
Both cars are unbelievably comfortable behind the wheel, the major difference however are their respective kit.
If you're not careful, you'd think you're cruising along the highway at 60km/h when you're going at a steady 120km/h. Whether you're driving twisty bends, long distances on the highway or driving on the beaten track, the NX remains consistent in its performance and agility.
Even when in the NX E grade model, it comes standard with loads of bells and whistles such as a wireless charger, 6-way adjustable seats, back guide monitor and enough driver assistant systems.
The F Sport version adds heatable and ventilated seats, 18" sport wheels, 8-way seats, power tailgate, Lane chaange assist and blind spot monitor and a panaramic roof.
In F Sport guise the spindle-grille frame is finished in a ‘black chrome’ effect which compliments the dark F-mesh grille.
The brushed-aluminium lower apron which runs the full length of the front, creates a sporty appearance with the graphite-coloured vent trim on the edges of the bumper accentuate the powerful stance and F Sport identity.
The F Sport features a Drive Mode Select with Eco, Normal, Sport, Sport + and newly-added Custom modes. Sport + interfaces with the Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) to increase dampening and allow for more dynamic handling.
The custom mode, says Lexus, allows drivers to personalise the powertrain, electric power steering, AVS and air conditioning settings.
E-grade variants now feature rain-sensing wipers, auto-levelling headlights (halogen with LED daytime running lights) and a reverse camera (displayed in the infotainment system).
The mid-grade EX variants add on roof rails and the range-topping F Sport gets Dynamic headlight levelling, chrome steering switch accents, and aluminium detailing on the instrument cluster.
The inside door handle trim has been changed from silver to satin finish on all NX models.
A key feature is the new 10.3" display audio screen (previous 7") with enhanced graphics and clarity - employed on EX and F Sport models equipped with satnav. The NX interior overhaul saw special attention paid to the centre cluster, with the navigation display enlarged to 10.3", climate control panel refreshed and the number of switches reduced, for ease of operation.
Button design has been revised and the analogue clock redesigned with increased contrast between the hands and background for ease of viewing. The clock is now larger and linked to the GPS function.
Airconwitches have been grouped according to operations, while the overall panel layout has been made cleaner, by resizing the switches.
The NX comes standard with a total of eight airbags on all models. Active safety systems include ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, Traction Control, Enhanced VSC, Hill-start Assist and Trailer Sway Control.
The F Sport model adds on Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) and Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA).
What's coming in 2018?
Lexus SA says there'll be a new RX longwheel base version arriving next year along with the new generation LS 500. The LS is a vital car for the automaker and it looks forward to reigniting the spark which established the company.
There was also a hint of a brand new model which will be added to the model range later in 2018.
Warranty and Service
All Lexus NX models come with a 3-year or 100 000km warranty. E-grade versions receive a Lexus Distance Plan service plan, EX models - Distance Plan Plus (includes brake components) and F Sport – Distance Plan Complete (full maintenance plan).
In addition customers can upgrade or extend their service/maintenance plan packages via the Lexus dealer network.