I was so happy to see Lexus embrace the ideal of progress when it introduced a downsized petrol motor into its thoroughly modern Toyota Rav4-based NX compact SUV.
But before we get in to the oily bits let’s look at the car, literally. The model that I had on test was the F-Sport version with the sporty bumpers and aggressive-looking wheels, a boost gauge/G-meter, paddle shifters and aluminium pedals.
The car looks great, it is so angular. I usually gauge a car’s design efficacy by how many times the metro police pull me over for a ‘routine stop’. In the case of the Lexus I was stopped a record of three times and all three times there was no traffic offence but rather an inquisitive policeman wanting to know what it is and how much it costs.
Inside is typically Lexus, with lashings of leather, more angular surfaces and superb tangible build quality. There’s even a vanity mirror hidden in the centre console while the 6.2-inch infotainment system works a treat with the centre-located touchpad. The highlight of the interior has to be the seats though, each moulds to your form for a very comfortable driving experience.
On to the mechanicals, which are more exciting, we have the first Lexus model to embrace forced induction form the factory. The 2.0-litre turbocharged motor packs 175kW/350Nm, which means that for the first time Lexus has brought the power to match its German rivals with a similar output to the BMW X3 xDrive28i xLine and the Audi Q3 2.0T SE quattro.
The motor is quite efficient with me achieving around 9.0 litres/100km during my time with the car (claimed 7.9 litres/100km). The NX comes with a fairly lazy six-speed automatic gearbox so it does feel less dynamic than its German rivals. In the acceleration stakes on paper it holds its own with a claimed 0-100km/h time of 7.1 seconds.
It’s not really about performance as much as it is about refinement and everyday usability and that’s where I feel the NX performs well. The smaller motor whispers along, while in the cabin, occupants are treated to a fuss-free ride and a high level of refinement.
The NX, in summation is a good compact SUV; it retains that plush quality and ride that Lexus is famed for while injecting some youth and excitement into the brand.