posted 1 year ago

Lexus NX Review

Accounting for 30% of EU sales the Lexus NX is a premium SUV with an eco-heart. But is a single engine choice really enough these days?

From £34,895
Pros
  • Superb interior quality
  • Attractive starting price
  • Smooth ride
Cons
  • Single engine choice

Introduction:

The Lexus NX was ahead of its time in terms of being a luxury, mid-sized SUV, but since its launch in 2014 the marketplace has changed. Competition now includes the all new Range Rover Velar and another strong rival, the fresh Volvo XC60.

Although the NX makes up 30% of Lexus sales in the EU, it’s now limited to a single, hybrid-only power plant. A large 2.5 litre petrol lump mated to a battery via a variable gearbox. Other marques offer a plethora of engine choices, leaving the NX looking a rather left field option.

Externally, the midlife revisions are minor. They include a slightly wider grille with a new design, LED headlights with sequential indicators, fresh alloys and a modestly tweaked front bumper. Unless you have the old and new side by side, it’s going to be tough to tell them apart.

On the Road

So you’re stuck with the 2.5 litre, four cylinder petrol engine. It makes 153 bhp and 210 NM of torque, coupled with the hybrid system these figures bump to a healthy 195 bhp and 480 NM.

Acceleration is ample with a 0-62 time of 9.2 seconds, although that will eventually be met with the engine whining at full revs…as so often happens when you want to press on. You can blame the fancy planetary gearbox setup for that. Lexus have thankfully dialled it back a notch with some new software that helps to minimise engine flare upon accelerating. The update works well, making the NX feel far more like a ‘normal’ car/gearbox combo.

Around town things are well hushed, anything below about 30 MPH and the engine will be inaudible. This is also where the hybrid system comes into its own, slowly trickling on and off propelling you around in silence and helping to up those MPG’s.

The one choice you do have with the NX is the four wheel drive option. This will add an extra motor to the rear and an additional 57 kilos in weight. Sadly the power output isn’t increased and the 0-62 time doesn’t drop in the slightest.

For this latest midlife revision Lexus ‘made a thorough re-assessment of the new NX’s suspension’. This has included adjusting spring rates, mounts and even the material used in the bushings.

The thing is…the ride wasn’t even bad in the first place. At motorway speeds the NX is silky smooth, cushioning you from the worst of what the tarmac beneath has to offer.

Hitting some twisty back roads and body roll is well controlled, making the NX handle like a smaller car.

F Sport Premier Pack buyers will get the fancy ‘Adaptive Variable Suspension’, which increases the ride comfort and kills roll even more. It takes into account the vehicles speed, roll attitude and can implement an anti-drive or anti squat function to keep the NX nice and level.

Steering is finely weighted and changes with the different drive modes, Normal, Eco and Sport. The F Sport Premier Pack also boasts Sport+ and a custom setup option, although the differences between Sport and Sport+ were unintelligible.

Again, Lexus looked for the minutiae to fix a problem that simply wasn’t.

The old NX was superbly quiet inside, even at higher speeds it was a serene bubble in a world of chaos. Clearly that wasn’t quite good enough, so the engine mounts have been tuned to supress vibration upon start up. They now allow for precisely 10% of deviation from the engines normal position, it all helps to reduce fuel consumption and aids ride comfort.

They’ve even gone so far as to change the oil seals and oil in the front shocks to reduce friction and road vibration.

It wasn’t broken, far from it. But Lexus fixed it anyway.

In the car

Inside is still suitably premium, with a few minor tweaks to be had.

On higher trims the mouse style navigation of the last model has been banished. You now get a touchpad to control the larger 10.3 inch infotainment screen on the upgraded Premium Navigation system.

Most of the heating controls have been removed in favour of toggles, and the central clock has been made larger so it’s easier to read. Oh, and it will also update via GPS for when you ‘pass through different world time zones’. Hmm.

Trim levels have been slimmed down, with Front Wheel Drive SE starting at £34,895. If you opt for All Wheel Drive then you’ll pay an additional £1,000.

After that is Luxury at £37,895, followed by F Sport nipping in at just under £40k by a fiver.

F Sport adds a mesh pattern grille up front, along with larger side intakes and triple LED headlights.

F Sport Premium pack adds the trick variable dampers, Mark Levinson stereo, upgraded infotainment and some sportier interior changes.

Premier tops the range at £44,395.

To keep up with today’s tech needs, USB ports have been repositioned and power to them has been boosted to help charge devices quicker. The inbuilt wireless charging tray has also been increased in size to help accommodate larger phones. 

Even though the NX is a mid-sized SUV it feels far roomier inside than it should. You seem to sit miles away from your front seat passenger, whilst head and leg room in the back is more than adequate for two adults.

Boot space remains the same at 475 litres with the rear seats up. Folding them down increases capacity to 1,520 litres.

It’s bested by the new Range Rover Velar, that measures in at 673 litres with the seats up, whilst the Audi Q5 can swallow 550 litres. So the NX is on the smaller side these days.

Running Costs:

Starting at £34,895 the NX is comparatively cheap when you look at an Audi Q5, especially when you see the quality of the interior.

But you’ll also have to consider the single engine choice. The Volvo XC60 would give you equivalent levels of quality with an engine you want. Not one you’re forced to own.

Lexus may only offer one setup, but it’s still the cheapest hybrid SUV on the market. With an Urban rating of 53.3 MPG it emits just 121 g/km of nasties, meaning you’ll pay £160 for the first year’s tax, then £130 after that.

If you opt for an NX costing over £40k, you’ll have to pay the extra £310 a year for the first 5 years on top of the normal tax rate.

Ownership

Starting at £34,895 the NX is comparatively cheap when you look at an Audi Q5, especially when you see the quality of the interior.

But you’ll also have to consider the single engine choice. The Volvo XC60 would give you equivalent levels of quality with an engine you want. Not one you’re forced to own.

Lexus may only offer one setup, but it’s still the cheapest hybrid SUV on the market. With an Urban rating of 53.3 MPG it emits just 121 g/km of nasties, meaning you’ll pay £160 for the first year’s tax, then £130 after that.

If you opt for an NX costing over £40k, you’ll have to pay the extra £310 a year for the first 5 years on top of the normal tax rate.

Luxury is the overwhelming feeling inside the NX, a lot of money has been spent to make this top notch.

Soft touch plastics are everywhere across the dash, leather adorns the rest of the surfaces, whilst brushed effect metal and light stitching draw the eye into the details.

Fit and finish is amazingly good when you think the range starts at under £35k.

As for reliability? Well, the NX came 15th in the 2017 Driver Power survey, whilst it’s bigger brother the RX came third. It’s safe to say you won’t be let down with a Lexus.

Every Lexus comes with a 3 year, 60,000 mile warranty, and the hybrid part is covered under a 5 year, 60,000 mile warranty.

A new addition to the NX is the Lexus Safety System+. It’s standard across the range, and will alert you if you’re about to have an accident by flashing ‘BRAKE’ on the display and sounding a warning tone. It can also pick out pedestrians at speeds of 6-50 MPH.

If the system thinks an accident may occur, it pre-loads the brakes. This gives you the optimum braking force, enabling you to decelerate by up to 25 MPH rapidly.

If the driver doesn’t react, the system will take over and give the brakes a quick prod.

As part of the systems requirements you also get adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, adaptive high beam, auto high beam and road sign recognition.

Eight airbags come fitted as standard to the NX, and it achieved the highly coveted 5 star EURONCAP rating.