Bringing together striking design, free-spirited performance and innovative technology, the brand new Lexus NX is the luxury automaker’s first foray into the ultra-competitive compact SUV segment of the market.
Available from the 23rd February, the NX symbolises a new direction for Lexus. As Calvyn Hamman, Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing, points out: “The brand’s focus is on providing design-driven, driver-rewarding vehicles underpinned by Lexus' advanced engineering and dynamic, efficient powertrains.”
Styling, of course, was key – the aim was to make a bold first impression and ensure the NX gets noticed. According to Hamman, this it certainly does: “Stylistically, the production package does not differ markedly from the extrovertly and aggressively crafted LF-NX concept that we showed back in 2013. What the NX designers have given us is an intelligent expression of the Lexus L-Finesse design language, retaining the sharp lines, wide, powerful stance and sporting feel of the original show car which gives it phenomenal on-road presence.”
But the newcomer is not just about the show – it’s got the go to match. The NX 200t is the first Lexus model to use the company’s new 175 kW, 2.0-litre turbocharged direct injection petrol engine. Nine years in development and debuting with technical innovations such as the Lexus-designed cylinder head with integrated four-into-two exhaust manifold (a world first) and twin-scroll turbocharger, the 1,998cc unit is matched to a newly developed six-speed automatic transmission with a Drive Mode Select system.
Another technological tour-de-force featuring on the NX 200t is the Dynamic Torque Control all-wheel drive system, which maximises traction and cornering stability, while securing the best possible fuel efficiency. According to driving conditions, up to 50 per cent of available torque can be directed to the rear wheels.
The NX 200t is available at launch in three model grades – E, EX and dramatic F-Sport apparel. It’s offered alongside the highly efficient NX 300h hybrid which sports EX livery.
“I am confident that with all these combined elements we have created a new generation vehicle that looks, drives, feels and is more efficient than anything else on the market,” says Hamman.
Sharp Lines + Contrasting Angles = Crisp Styling
Taking styling cues from the radical LF-NX concept unveiled at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show, the NX carries over the show car’s low silhouette and sharp, bisecting angles.
The front of the vehicle triumphantly displays the bold spindle grille between a new LED headlamp design and daytime running lamps (DRLs), the latter featuring the signature Lexus L-shape. The F-Sport model features a trio of angular LED lamps housed within its expressive headlights that are even more defined thanks to a new two-colour (black and clear) moulding method for the headlamp outer lens. The DRLs on the sportier model are further distinguished by a new linear illumination style which also double up as LED turn signal lamps.
The ample dimensions of the spindle grille contrasts sharply with the thin headlamps that have been ‘scalpelled’ into the face of the NX.
The upper and lower parts of the front bumper intersect at the corners to create a sporty, haunched stance.
The spindle theme has also been carried through to the rear – the number plate recess echoing the shape of the front grille. Ditto the L-shaped motif which is repeated in the LED tail lights.
The unique double rear bumper with faux diffuser treatment and dual exhaust outlets (200t) has been styled to emphasise the vehicle's low centre of gravity and enhance its wide stance. NX 300h models have metallic fins in place of exhaust pipes to provide a clean yet dynamic impression.
In profile, the uniquely proportioned sides feature protruding front and rear flares on wheel arches to emphasise the sporty and aggressive nature of NX.
Other detailing includes sculpted chrome ornamentation on the exterior mirrors to lend the vehicle an added air of luxury while realising aerodynamic and wind noise functionality.
While on the subject of aerodynamics, the combination of a slippery body and a number of wind-cheating gizmos help NX achieve a drag co-efficient of just 0.33 for the 200t (0.34 for the 300h) improving fuel economy, handling stability and refinement by reducing wind noise at speed.
A small detail that’s worthy of mention is the world-first proprietary keyhole-less exterior door handle which continues the cutting-edge styling theme. A smaller, more compact key cylinder now exists between the handle and door panel to open the vehicle when the remote key fob is unavailable. The cylinder can only be seen when the door handle is at its full stroke position to give a seamless, dynamic appearance. The new door handle design provides a welcoming element and talking point as occupants approach the vehicle. An illuminated line features along the top of the handle to accentuate its styling and provide easier accessibility at night.
Another fascinating piece of design trivia relates to the LED puddle lamps which provide additional light for occupants - fade-in and fade-out timing has been engineered to coordinate with other lamps (such as the interior dome lamp) to provide a sense of harmony and luxury. The puddle lamp fade-out speed mimics that of a traditional Japanese 'Fusuma' sliding door as it closes.
F-Sport differentiation comes in the form of a honeycomb-textured spindle grille, a deeper bumper with a metallic-coated lower section, the aforementioned frontal light treatment and exterior mirrors which are clad in glossy black for a theatrical touch; E and EX derivatives go with a partial black gloss treatment. Rounding off the F-Sport ensemble are turbine-inspired, 18-inch alloys in a burnt metallic finish; EX also gets 18-inch alloys but with a dual-spoke design, whilst the E grade model is shod with 17-inch multi-spoke alloys.
NX 200t Under The Skin
The new Lexus NX 200t has an innovative turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine that can operate on both the fuel-saving Atkinson cycle and the conventional Otto cycle. The late intake valve closing of the Atkinson cycle reduces pumping losses and boosts fuel economy.
Crammed with new technology, special attention was paid to minimising turbo 'lag', including the use of a twin-scroll turbocharger and mounting the intercooler to the engine to minimise the intake volume downstream of the turbocharger to optimise response.
The wider range of inlet timing variation in the VVT-iW system means the new NX 200t engine can switch instantly from the Otto cycle to the high-expansion ratio, high-efficiency Atkinson cycle according to vehicle operating conditions.
The new 8AR-FTS engine also has the latest Lexus fuel injection system, known as D-4ST and an air-to-liquid intercooler. The D-4ST system splits injection between high-pressure direct injection and low-pressure port injection according to driving conditions, providing optimum combustion at all times.
The new Euro 6-compliant turbocharged engine delivers 175kW of power from 4800-5600rpm and 350Nm of torque from 1650-4000rpm. This translates into a 0-100km/h sprint time of 7,1 seconds and a top speed of 200 km/h.
A combined cycle fuel economy of 7.9 litres/100km with Dynamic Torque Control AWD is achievable while CO2 emission levels are pegged at 184g/km.
Integrated Systems Control
Lexus has combined the cylinder head, exhaust manifold and intercooler with variable waste-gate control to optimise low-speed torque and fuel economy, as well as meeting strict emission requirements. Active waste-gate control minimises pumping losses by reducing back pressure during low engine load.
The VVT-iW system optimises torque throughout the engine revolution range and allows the engine to start in the Otto cycle and run in the more fuel efficient Atkinson cycle. The VVT-iW system has a mid-position lock to enable Atkinson cycle to be maintained without sacrificing starting performance in cold weather and also to deliver Wide Open Throttle performance.
World-First 4-into-2 Integrated Manifold
In a world first, the cylinder head, four-into-two, exhaust manifold and twin-scroll turbocharger have been integrated on the new 2.0-litre engine. This allows for a high compression ratio (for a turbo petrol engine) of 10.0:1, providing optimum low-speed torque, throttle response and fuel economy.
The four-into-two manifold system pairs cylinders according to their expansion or compression strokes and, when combined with the turbocharger design, reduces pumping losses. The dual-pipe exhaust design allows for optimum gas flow for superior performance.
The Lexus 8AR-FTS engine also has an air-to-liquid intercooler mounted directly to the engine to help minimise turbo lag.
Petrol-powered Lexus with Stop & Start Technology
Lexus NX 200t's engine stops automatically while the vehicle is stationary, such as at traffic lights and in heavy traffic. The engine re-starts when the accelerator pedal is depressed and the Brake Hold function is automatically cancelled.
A high-performance battery and high-precision battery sensor optimise power supply performance, enabling the engine to be stopped for longer periods.
New Transaxle for NX 200t
Lexus NX 200t has a new sequential-shift six-speed automatic transmission paired with a sophisticated electronically controlled proactive all-wheel drive system. Sequential shifting can be initiated via the gear lever or paddle shifters on the steering wheel. Another Lexus-first feature is the pre-loaded front differential.
It is a lightweight, compact unit with an impressive array of electronic-control features designed to provide smooth shifting and acceleration, optimum fuel economy and response, and sporting driving performance.
Fuel-saving features include flexible torque-converter lock-up control from second to sixth gear. In additional to sequential shifting in M Mode, the steering wheel paddle shifters can also be used in D (automatic) mode, to initiate downshifts. This feature, known as 'temporary sequential mode', helps the driver set up for a corner or simply slow the vehicle in a low-speed zone.
AI shift control
Lexus Sport AI (artificial intelligence) shift control is a transmission algorithm designed to manage the shift regime according to road conditions and driver intention, thereby optimising the characteristics of the turbo engine. It includes Driver-intention Control, Sudden Braking Downshift Control and G-AI Shift Control.
Driver-intention Control monitors accelerator usage and vehicle condition to provide gear shift patterns that suit sporty driving. G-AI Shift Control uses G-sensor information to help set up for a corner and ensure optimum response when re-acceleration occurs. It combines the NX 200t features of Drive Mode Select (DMS) and the new G-sensor when the transmission is in D (automatic) mode.
The system selects the most suitable gear for sporting driving by monitoring the status of the vehicle's G sensor, with shifting selection biased towards the lower gears to draw out the full potential of the turbocharged engine.
When entering a corner in the D range with SPORT mode selected, the vehicle condition is determined using information gathered from the G-sensor and driver operations, and the transmission downshifts to the optimum gear. While cornering, the gear is held to enable powerful acceleration at the corner exit.
Powertrain Cooperative Control
Powertrain Cooperative Control uses information based on driver operations, vehicle condition and driving environment to match engine and transmission settings and optimise driveability.
In DMS SPORT mode, the targeted drive force and gear range are set according to accelerator pedal angle to provide a sportier driving experience and acceleration from the turbo engine.
The new NX 200t has Lexus' first pre-loaded front differential, to ensure straight-line stability and acceleration performance when the differential is under light loads or there is a low rotational speed difference between the left and right wheels. It provides the benefits of a limited-slip differential at low speeds and on slippery surfaces.
Dynamic Torque Control AWD for NX 200t
Dynamic Torque Control AWD further enhances vehicle handling stability and optimises fuel economy. The system uses an electronically controlled coupling on the rear differential housing to finely control the front/rear torque split between 100:0 and 50:50.
The system controls the torque split according to driver intention, vehicle condition and available traction - using information on vehicle speed, engine revolutions, throttle opening angle, shift position, steering angle and brake application, and from two G sensors and a yaw-rate sensor. The torque split in NX 200t AWD is situation-specific.
Torque distribution to the rear wheels is controlled under normal straight-line driving conditions to save fuel. It is also controlled when starting off and while turning sharply to avoid 'tight-corner braking'.
Special features of the system include pre-torque control (based on driver input) and yaw-rate feedback control. Both are designed to enhance driving pleasure, handling stability and cornering.
The moment the driver operates the steering wheel, pre-torque control sets the front/rear torque distribution to 90:10 to provide excellent steering control when cornering. It allows the driver to better track the intended driving line and increases driveability on slippery as well as normal road surfaces.
Yaw-rate feedback control operates in the second half of the corner and varies the front/rear torque split according to vehicle yaw. It can vary the front/rear torque split up to a maximum 50:50, based on steering angle, yaw rate and other inputs.
When braking, the AWD function is cancelled to optimise brake effectiveness and the operation of the ABS and VSC systems. The driver can maximise AWD performance on dirt, sand and slippery/snowy roads simply by pushing the AWD LOCK button.
NX 300h Hybrid Under The Skin
The Lexus NX 300h hybrid powertrain was designed to achieve excellent fuel economy coupled with enjoyable acceleration and agile driving. The Lexus hybrid powertrain features a 2.5-litre Atkinson cycle engine and a multi-mode six-step electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (E-CVT) with sequential-shiftmatic change and a unique kick-down feature.
Lexus NX 300h has total system output of 145kW, from the combination of the petrol and electric motors. The all-alloy 2AR-FXE petrol engine has a proven track record thanks to its application in the ES 300h.
It has variable valve timing on the intake camshaft and the increased thermal efficiency of cooled exhaust-gas recirculation.
The petrol engine delivers 114kW of power at 5700rpm and 210Nm of torque from 4200-4400rpm. The 0-100km/h dash comes up in 9,2 seconds and top speed is capped at 180 km/h. The 650-volt electric motor has 105kW maximum power and 270Nm maximum torque.
The hybrid powertrain has been specially tuned for NX 300h to provide greater response hill climbing capabilities and fuel economy.
NX 300h Hybrid has Intelligent Drivetrain
The new Lexus NX 300h is equipped with a sophisticated electronically continuously variable transmission (E-CVT) linked to the super-efficient efficient Lexus E-Four proactive AWD system.
A sequential-shift feature allows for manual-like shift operation with six stepped ratios, via the shift lever and steering-wheel paddles. The manual shift feature can be used for downshifts, and to increase engine braking on corner entry. In addition, the NX hybrid transmission has a breakthrough kick-down function, for greater acceleration.
Lexus NX 300h uses sophisticated software to control the transmission, smoothly adjusting the speed of the petrol engine, generator and drive motor when the vehicle is accelerating or decelerating. The software creates on-demand driving modes via the Drive Mode Select switch: EV (electric vehicle), Eco, Normal and Sport.
At start-up and at low speeds NX 300h can operate in EV mode and drive on electric power alone - for minimal noise and zero emissions in residential areas and enclosed car parks. The NX 300h uses electric power exclusively to reverse.
The Lexus E-Four proactive all-wheel drive system uses an electric motor to drive the rear axle while the front axle can be propelled by petrol or electric power, or a mixture of both. The E-Four system can vary torque distribution to the rear wheels, depending on driving dynamics and road conditions.
It provides a level of start-off stability and acceleration on snow-covered or other slippery road surfaces that is appropriate for all-wheel drive models. E-Four saves energy and therefore fuel because the vehicle only uses all-wheel drive when it is needed - for example, in response to a loss of front-wheel traction. If the system detects loss of traction of the front wheels, it reduces the electricity supply to the traction motor in the transaxle and increases supply to the rear-axle motor. The rear motor can act as a generator when the vehicle is in regenerative braking mode, thereby increasing the amount of vehicle kinetic energy recovered when it decelerates.
The new Lexus E-Four has situation-specific control features, including an improved yaw-rate control system for enhanced driving performance.
New Braking System adds Feel
The new Lexus NX 300h uses the latest version of Lexus' electronic controlled braking system, known as ECB-R. It provides cooperative control of friction and regenerative braking while saving on vehicle weight. The friction brakes feature 328 x 28mm ventilated front rotors and 281 x 12mm solid rear rotors.
Regenerative braking uses the electric drive motor as a generator to convert kinetic energy to electricity, which can be stored in the HV battery for later use in powering the vehicle while saving wear on the friction brakes.
Active Sound Control/Acceleration Sound Control
The development of matching engine sound and driving experience began with the LFA premium sports car and was introduced in IS Hybrid.
When driving in Normal or Sport mode, the ASC sets the virtual engine speed based on accelerator pedal angle and other data. It reduces the sensation of disparity between acceleration feel and engine sound due to the hybrid's characteristic gasoline engine ON/OFF feature and any disproportion between engine speed and acceleration.
The type of sound, tone and volume changes according to the drive mode selected. The sound mimics the shift up/down feel of an automatic transmission when the vehicle is driven in D range.
ASC is automatically switched off when the vehicle is in Eco or EV mode.
Innovative New Hybrid Battery
Lexus NX 300h has a new, more package-efficient HV battery that has been designed to benefit overall vehicle dynamics. The new battery is mounted low in the vehicle, just forward of the rear wheels. It is divided into two modules, each weighing 20 kilograms, to spread the weight as evenly and as low as possible.
The result is a lower centre of gravity and more even weight distribution across the compact SUV. The battery package and associated blower unit are located in front of the rear seat.
New Platform Brings Solid Foundation
Ninety per cent of the Lexus NX 's foundation has been re-engineered, resulting in a 20 per cent stiffer body. Take note, however, that torsional rigidity wasn't the sole focus of engineers, with attention paid to ensuring the chassis allowed for superior driving dynamics.
Keeping You in “Suspension”
The all-new NX features two suspension systems - both tuned to maximise dynamic performance and cabin space.
E and EX models have a spring and damper suspension system, while the F-Sport grade uses a newly developed Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) system.
All models also have a new Sprung Weight Damping Control system.
Both systems feature a highly rigid MacPherson strut type suspension at the front, while the rear consists of compact trailing arm double-wishbone suspension.
The compact rear suspension has been achieved by adopting separate damper and spring units for the suspension. This reduces the need for intrusion into the rear cargo area, while also contributing to a lower centre of gravity which aids handling.
AVS for the F-Sport
AVS controls the damping force of the shock absorbers in response to driving and road conditions, to provide handling stability and a comfortable ride in a range of conditions.
In the NX 200t, AVS provides 30 levels of adjustment to suit different conditions. The operation of the AVS system depends on the Drive Mode Select setting, with a higher level of control for dynamic handling performance in Sport+ mode.
Micro Focus Reaps Macro Rewards
Lexus chassis engineers embarked on a program dubbed 'microscopic force control' to ensure that the all-new Lexus NX remained as stable and composed as possible under all circumstances.
Microscopic force control aims to reduce or remove small forces that would otherwise impact handling at a micro level, including:
• body shake induced by the stroke of the windscreen wipers;
• vehicle movement caused by the 'wake' of a passing vehicle;
• small changes to vehicle geometry due to changes in tyre tread;
• movements in mounting points (such as suspension mounts) due to poor tolerances or materials;
• changes to vehicle posture due to tyre wall movements; and
• minute changes to the platform due to chassis or component flex.
At the micro level, engineers paid careful attention to eliminating or countering even the smallest influences. In many instances they re-engineered, stiffened, insulated or dampened components to ensure that the smallest force was reduced or eliminated. The result is a significant reduction of small, and in some instances imperceptible, forces that would otherwise impact on vehicle handling and composure.
Complexity made Simple with Drive Mode Select
Every NX model features the Drive Mode Select (DMS) system, allowing the driver to tailor vehicle systems to their specific requirements with the flick of a switch.
DMS is linked to ambient illumination in the instrument display to indicate which mode is currently selected.
The NX E and EX models (hybrid and petrol) have a three-step DMS system including Eco, Normal and Sport modes.
There is also an EV mode on the hybrid model that allows the vehicle to be driven quietly and emission-free at low speeds (less than 45km/h) in areas such as underground and enclosed car parks.
The new NX has a comprehensive suite of active safety kit that includes daytime running lamps, reversing camera (all models except E grade) and front fog lamps, as well as comprehensive electronic safety features including electronically controlled braking, Emergency Brake Signal, vehicle stability control (VSC), traction control (TRC), ABS anti-skid brakes with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), as well as Hill-start Assist Control.
As mentioned, Lexus Dynamic Torque Control AWD helps maximise traction and cornering stability on all-wheel drive models. All NX models come with a direct-type tyre-pressure warning system. It illuminates a tyre-warning lamp on the dashboard if the pressure in any tyre falls to a hazardous level.
On the passive safety front a complement of eight SRS airbags including dual front airbags, front side and curtain shield airbags as well as a driver’s kneebag and front passenger cushion airbag.
It also has a comprehensive impact-absorbing body structure, Whiplash Injury Lessening front seats, head-impact protection interior cabin features and ISOFix child restraint anchorage points.
A new rear-impact structure disperses offset collision energy to the main chassis members on both sides of the vehicle.
Pedestrian protection includes an energy-absorbing structure for the bonnet and the fender-mounting bracket, as well as an impact-absorbing structure for the cowl. Energy-absorbing material has been adopted in front of the bumper reinforcement and under the radiator support to protect the legs of pedestrians in the event of a collision.
Inside, the NX has energy-absorbing structures in the pillars and roof head lining. There are impact-absorbing pads in the front and rear door trim, adjacent to the occupant's lumbar region, to reduce side impact injury.
Interior: Tops in the Space Race
Clever packaging and an innovative rear suspension design gives the Lexus NX class-leading space advantages within its compact, sporty exterior. Legroom is a class-leading 962mm, providing superior rear occupant comfort and accommodation.
The hip point for the front seats is the lowest in the segment. Rear occupant comfort has also been boosted by a reduction in the gap between the headliner and roof panel to provide additional headroom to complement the extra space for occupants' legs. It offers 53.5mm of head clearance above the seat and 74.8mm side head clearance.
The driver and front-seat passenger also benefit from generous headroom, with 57.3mm of front head clearance and 54mm of side head clearance. The rear cargo area is a segment-leading 948mm long with the rear seats upright. The rear trim shapes were designed to maximise cargo space. Maximum luggage area width is 1347mm, meaning up to four 9.5-inch golf bags can be stored sideways. There is 500 litres of luggage space behind the rear seat and 1545 litres with the rear seat folded, as well as space under the luggage board in four storage boxes.
Storage locations also include a console box with mid tray, a utility box, sunglasses storage bin and door pockets with bottle holders. The centre cup holders accept large US-sized cups.
Make the Grade
The interior of the NX combines space, quality materials and contemporary design to provide a sense of occasion with a decidedly sporty bias. Leather accents are used for tactile areas, while the structural elements have metallic finishes to provide contrast and character.
The centre console features a raking profile from the upper display zone to provide a sleek, futuristic appearance and high levels of functionality. It also has a metallic surround to provide an advanced look, while console side padding provides a quality finish and enhances the cockpit-like ambience.
A unique, lateral quilting seat design distinguishes the EX grade and provides a simple yet sophisticated look. NX 200t Luxury is available with supple NuLux upholstery in two colour ways: Black with Silver trim and Topaz Brown with Dark metallic trim.
Leather-clad F-Sport seats live up to their name by offering a racier, more dynamic driving experience. Integrated foam sports seats hug the occupant's body. Available colours include the F-Sport-exclusive Dark Rose and Full Black trim. Wood trim garnish accompany both these ensembles.
Non-slip aluminium pedals and a driver's foot brace provide practical assistance to sports driving. Another nod to the F-Sport’s racing pedigree is the steering wheel – it’s dimpled to provide even greater feel during performance driving, and the F-Sport emblem features prominently in the steering wheel's lower quadrant. Brushed metallic gear shift lever and scuff plate ornamentation beneath the door provide dynamic touches to differentiate F-Sport.
Specs at a glance
Sounds like winner!
EX and F-Sport models receive a 10-speaker audio system (an eight-speaker system for the E grade) with a digital (Class-D) amplifier that provides clear playback while minimising weight and energy consumption. Auto volume technology automatically adjusts volume differences depending on the music genre and recording quality. Both audio systems allow Bluetooth audio streaming as well as connection to portable media players via two USB ports (one in the case of the E grade) and an AUX port in the console box. The AUX connection is capable of playing video files through the multimedia display screen with a compatible four-pole cable.
Advanced interior lighting
NX features touch switches for the front dome and map interior LED lights. A microcomputer installed in the roof detects when a finger touches the lens surface and turns the lamps on or off. Power-saving LED lamps are installed strategically throughout the cabin to enhance comfort and convenience.
Special attention was paid to the layout of the footwell lamps to provide effective illumination in relation to the occupants' seating position.
Keeping in touch (LRT – EX & F-Sport)
Lexus NX EX and F-Sport grades comes equipped with the third generation of the Lexus Remote Touch (LRT) system for convenient use of the vehicle's multimedia system. LRT takes advanced technology and combines it with effortless functionality inspired by today's touch-screen smartphones. It uses three forward-mounted buttons: one for the multimedia system's homepage, another to enable the menu to display and the third to zoom in and out. Changes to vehicle functions via LRT are shown on the upper dash-mounted multimedia display.
3D SatNav (EX & F-Sport)
The comprehensive NX navigation system includes Real Junction View, which provides a realistic graphic of upcoming road junctions to give the driver a better understanding of the approaching road situation. 3D City View provides a three-dimensional map of surrounding buildings to give the driver an accurate impression of their surroundings when driving in urban areas.
When driving without marked roads (such as in forests and deserts), Route Trace Recognition registers the route being travelled, saves it and then re-displays it to help the driver retrace their path.
Pricing, Warranty and Service
NX 200t E - R539 900
NX 200t EX - R579 900
NX 200t F-Sport - R659 900
NX 300h EX - R633 000
All Lexus NX models are covered by a four-year/100 000 km warranty and service plan (Lexus Distance Plan for the E grade model, Lexus Distance Plan Plus for the EX grade models and Lexus Distance Plan Complete for the F-Sport). For more information or to arrange a drive experience, visit www.imperiallexus.co.za