This is the production version of the Lexus NX compact crossover, which will sit below the Lexus RX in the Japanese brand’s line-up as it chases the BMW X3. Based on the Toyota RAV4, the NX features the Lexus spindle-grille up front but has lost the jagged styling that repulsed many when the concept car was shown at the 2013 Frankfurt show.
The showroom edition has been toned down significantly, but still keeps the same stance and two-piece LED headlamps that ape the IS saloon’s face. It has a similar side window-line to the RX, with a kicked-up rear quarter frame, while the edgy taillights at the rear keep some of the weird wondrous styling with plastic filled areas teasing them across the rear quarter panel. It’s certainly a standout visually, in contrast to criticisms of parent-co Toyota’s lambasting for delivering conservative, safe and mind-numbing designs.
The NX will be offered in the UK in two guises. The most popular model will be the 300h, with ‘h’ for hybrid of course. It uses the driveline from the ES300h, sold in North America, which means a 2.5-litre four-cylinder teamed with an electric motor. Economy is around 48mpg combined in the ES300h, so expect a similar figure and CO2 of less than around 117g/km (the Volvo XC60’s best) if the NX is to be the ‘class leader’ as Lexus suggests. Of course, like every Toyota/Lexus hybrid built since the Prius rolled up in 1997, it will have the smooth yet noisy CVT.
The other model will be the entry-level NX 200t, which uses a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo front-wheel drive and will be offered for around £30,000. That places it squarely against the diesel-powered Volvo XC60, Audi Q5 and the BMW X3 that it’s chasing in the crossover contest.
The NX is also the first production model to use the Lexus touchpad as it rolls out across the range. It’s also used in the RC F, Lexus’ rival to the BMW M4 and Mercedes C63 AMG, and replaces the ‘mouse’ and wristpad as seen in the RX and IS saloon range. There are no other surprises inside, with two-tone perforated leather seats, stitched leather dash and brushed metal detailing.
The Lexus NX is in UK showrooms in Autumn 2014.