2015 Lexus NX. Click image to enlarge
Preview by Justin Pritchard, photos courtesy Lexus
originally published April 21, 2014
For full driving impressions, see our 2015 Lexus NX first drive.
There’s a first for everything – unless you’re Lexus, and you’re trying to break into the compact luxury crossover scene, in which case there are two firsts. Aiming at models like the BMW X3 and Cadillac SRX, Lexus’s upcoming NX will be the automaker’s first entry into this increasingly popular market segment, and it’ll do it with their first ever turbocharged engine.
“We dislike turbochargers!” said no auto enthusiast, ever. And for those enthusiasts, the Lexus NX 200t will be the model of choice. For hybrid enthusiasts after a crossover that doesn’t spew more junk into the atmosphere than a roomful of politicians, an NX 300h hybrid variant will be available, too.
Further, a naturally aspirated NX 200 is planned, ideal for those who want to play it safe with a conventional gas engine. This particular engine won’t be available, at least initially, in the US market, and that means it probably won’t be available to us Canucks, either.
What likely will be available here is the planned NX 200t F Sport, which will boast visual and chassis upgrades for a more aggressive presence and more responsive handling. And, when the NX goes on sale, shoppers can look at units available with either front-wheel drive or something that Lexus’s marketing department is calling all-weather drive.
The numbers? At writing, there were none. Lexus is being fairly tight-lipped about the specific details of their latest machine, which debuted in Beijing early in the morning while most Canadians were counting sheep. The official Autos.ca educated guess? Expect the hybrid to pack somewhere around 200 horsepower, and the turbo to bump that towards 250.
What we do know is that the NX range looks the part of a new-age Lexus, complete with a great-big-spindle-shapey grille opening, itty-bitty running light swooshes with LED lighting, and a slightly ticked-off looking face courtesy of the inward-angled headlamps with LED projectors concealed within. Deep and aggressive sculpting, swoopy character lines and a ‘bulging from its skin’ look associate the entry-level Lexus ute to the entry-level Lexus sedan, the IS, on the visual front.
In all, the NX looks more sports-car sleek than sport-ute rugged, likely an ideal approach for a shopper after all-weather on-road confidence and thrilling styling.
This carries on inside, with photos suggesting the same key cabin elements as the IS – namely, a familiar instrument cluster, steering wheel, seat design and centre console controls. Lexus’s Remote Touch Interface (RTI) will be on board as will a drive-mode selector, metal sports pedals and more. None of the design elements shown off in the NX’s sporty cabin configuration would look out of place in a sports coupe, and we like that. Ditto the on-screen g-meter and boost-gauge, useful for keeping watchful eye on your PSI.
And, if you’re all fancy, you can opt for the beige one – which lightens up the colour scheme, adds some wood trim, and looks classy as heck.
Other goodies? The NX will get a world-first door handle mechanism with integrated lighting and a hidden key barrel, a head-up display, and the latest range of radar-driven hazard-detection systems. Interestingly, the NX will offer wireless cell-phone recharging via its built-in charging mat, which streams delicious electrons into the batteries of compatible handsets via some high-tech witchcraft and without having to plug in a wire like a common peasant.
The wireless charging feature, in particular, will be popular with the NX’s target audience, which Chief engineer Takeaki Kato describes as a young, urban, luxury driver. He says the NX, throughout all development stages, was approached from their perspective, with inspiration from things like high-quality sports watches, bikes and fashion, and an underlying ideology to combine functionality and utility with design.
Young, urban, luxury drivers can check the NX model range out on a test-drive when it lands at local Lexus dealers later this year.