March 02, 2015
The Power of Design
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 once-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. Admittedly, it has a more measured look than its predecessor and its innovative LED 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 with prominent spindle grille, the bulging rear fenders, those powerfully protruding wheel flares, that impressive body rigidity.
A roofline peak towards the back of the vehicle provides ample headroom and accentuates the side profile, creating a tight silhouette. Brazen, flared wheel arches house 17- or 18-inch wheels (model dependant) that set the vehicle in a crouching, muscular stance.The rear is punctuated by Lexus’ signature ‘L’ shape combination lamps, each with seamless LED lighting, while the bodywork echoes the spindle grille design at the front.
An innovative outer mirror and world-first door handle mechanism (with hidden key barrel and integrated lighting) add to the luxury appearance.
The interior of the NX directly evokes the premium, urban feel of the vehicle, combining the structural beauty of a high-performance machine with a material feel that maximises luxury and functionality.
A sliver of silver ‘beading’ is strongly embedded in the instrument panel, symbolising the strength of the vehicle, and knee pads located on both sides of the frame firmly support the driver and passenger.
Cabin design prioritises seating and interior space. The quilted pattern of the seats and varied pad thickness express the crossover intention of the vehicle. The NX offers best-in-class luggage load length and rear seat leg space thanks to the flat floor.
The new Lexus 2.0-litre turbo engine, the brand’s first turbo petrol engine, was tested over one million kilometres of various, often harsh road conditions and environments. Without getting too technical, the 175 kW direct-injection turbo engine features the world-first combination of a cylinder head with an integrated water-cooled exhaust manifold and a twin scroll turbo charger.A new 6-speed automatic transmission has been adopted to match the new turbo engine. It features new torque-demand control logic, which calculates required engine torque to maximise the exhilaration of quick acceleration response and fuel efficiency. It pulls off the obligatory 0-100km/h dash in 7,1 seconds.
Newly developed shock absorbers, capable of controlling even the smallest micro-level fluctuations, contributes to excellent handling stability and ride comfort. Additionally, the F-Sport features a new Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS), capable of variable control in 30 stages.
The NX employs specialised Lexus manufacturing techniques such as body adhesives and laser-screw welding to improve the rigidity of the suspension system as well as the body, enhancing overall driving performance.
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.
An array of innovative on-board technology complements the vehicle. Just two examples are the new Lexus Remote Touch Interface with a touch pad (EX and F-Sport) as well as the comprehensive Multi-information Display. Other niceties include a tyre pressure monitoring system, a full suite of safety kit comprising eight airbags, reverse monitor (EX and F-Sport), sunroof (F-Sport) as well as gizmos such as a G sensor and boost meter (F-Sport).
The NX F-Sport version provides a more aggressive and sportier design. F-Sport exclusive items include a mesh spindle grille, new front lower bumper, turbine-inspired, ‘burnt’ metallic alloy wheels, glossy black outer mirrors, exclusive interior color options (Dark Rose), ornament panel and sport seats.
Prices range from R539 900 for the NX 200t E going up to R659 900 for the F-Sport. The NX comes with a four-year / 100 000 km service plan (tailored to suit each model).