The burgeoning premium compact SUV segment is about to get shaken up with a new highly anticipated model joining the party. The all-new Lexus NX has finally arrived down under, after numerous star-studded launches at major motor shows around the globe.
The NX is Lexus’ first entry to one of the most competitive segments in the luxury car market today. And it’s off to a good start, with more than 300 orders already placed even before its local launch. It’s the same story elsewhere, with higher than expected sales in Japan and Europe threatening to constrict supply until early next year.
The new Lexus NX is created for “urban and active lifestyles”, featuring an edgy and emotional design derived from the controversial Lexus LF-NX concept. The bold design shows Lexus recent initiative to attract younger buyers to the brand, starting with the new Lexus IS.
Available from today, the new SUV has been launched with the NX 300h hybrid model, with a four-cylinder turbo in the form of the NX 200t joining the range in early 2015.
Sitting below the larger RX model in Lexus’ SUV line-up, the NX has high hopes of having a chunk of the market share in a segment now dominated by the BMW X3 and Audi Q5. It also needs to fight off the chic Range Rover Evoque and another recent newcomer, the Mercedes-Benz GLA.
The Lexus NX is available in three models, including Luxury, F Sport and Sports Luxury – with the F Sport receiving unique visual and driving dynamic enhancements. The NX 300h range begins with the Luxury model carrying a sticker price of $55,000 excluding on roads for the two-wheel drive version. All-wheel-drive adds $4,500 to the price.
Lexus Australia chief executive Sean Hanley said the NX 300h encapsulates the efforts of a design and engineering team that went beyond SUV convention.
“When designing the all-new NX, the engineers and designers wanted to offer consumers something unique – something that stood out from the crowd and offered innovative on-board technology while meeting the practical requirements of SUV customers,” Mr Hanley said.
“The result is an outstanding vehicle that, much like the pioneering RX and RX hybrid models before it, will provide customers with a fresh, new perspective on a compact SUV.
“With its outstanding design, innovative on-board technology, unparalleled standard specification and legendary Lexus reliability, the NX is the perfect vehicle for today’s urban explorer,” Mr Hanley said.
As the segment’s first hybrid SUV model, the NX 300h combines a high thermal efficiency 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle engine with an integrated high-torque electric motor. Total output is rated at 164 kW and 221 Nm. The same engine is also used in the Lexus ES 300h large sedan.
All-wheel-drive model features a second electric motor that pushes out 50kW to the rear wheels when extra traction is required. Called the Lexus E-Four, the system removes the need for a mechanical link to the rear of the vehicle, reducing fuel consumption by preventing friction losses and only driving the rear wheels when required.
The system also ensures stable driving performance when traction is limited by optimising front/rear torque distribution. To maximise fuel-efficiency, the E-Four system deactivates under normal driving conditions.
Driving the wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT) the NX 300h covers the 0-100km/h sprint in 9.2 seconds, while using 5.6-litres of fuel per 100km in the combined cycle.
In typical Lexus fashion, the NX is loaded with standard features. Both two and all-paw Luxury models come equipped with satellite navigation, reverse camera, power rear tailgate, heated front seats with eight-way power adjustment, LED low beam headlamps and fog lamps, steering column power adjustment and 10-speaker audio with digital radio.
F Sport models build on the Luxury foundation and add as standard all-wheel-drive, adaptive variable suspension with sports calibration, an extra Sports+ driving mode, wireless induction charger for supported mobile devices, blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, paddle shifters and performance dampers all round.
The F-badged models also gain sportier bumpers, wheels and black-mesh grille. Inside, there are F Sport pedals, steering wheel, scuff plates and gear level. An “Active Sound Control” pipes synthesised engine note to the cabin and the front seats gain cooling in addition to heating, with driver memory function.
The top-spec Sports Luxury model is decked out with leather-accented interior, full-colour head-up display, Mark Levinson 14-speaker premium audio, auto high beam and moonroof. There are also a host of safety features including pre-collision warning, active cruise control and lane departure warning.
All models feature a four-year, 100,000km warranty with an eight-year warranty for the hybrid battery.
Lexus NX Australian Pricing
|Model||Drivetrain||Price (ex. on-roads)||1||2||Enhancement pack specification|
|F Sport||AWD||$66,000||+$4,000||MR and 14 speaker Mark Levinson (ML)|
|+$7,500||Pre-collision safety, all speed cruise control, Lane Departure Warning+, Heads-up Display, Smart Key, Auto High Beam, ML, MR|