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Lexus NX 200t 2015 review: snapshot

Ewan Kennedy road tests and reviews the 2015 Lexus NX200t.

When launched late in 2014 the all-new Lexus NX crossover came only as a hybrid, the NX 300h. Now the range has been expanded with the addition of the NX 200t at a lower cost, down about $2500 on the hybrid. This means the range starts at $52,500 for the 2WD NX 200t.

The little 'h' in Lexus speak stands for hybrid, the 't' indicates turbocharged. In this case a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol with a power output of 175 kilowatts and 350 Nm of torque. The latter is produced all the way from 1650 to 4000 rpm.

We like the bold styling of the NX. One of the first moves Akio Toyoda made when he took over the reins at Toyota / Lexus was that he didn't like his cars being described as conservative. The word 'conservative' is unlikely to ever be used when describing the NX series.

The huge 'spindle grille', deep swages in the doors and the sharp kick-up at the rear show the chief's wishes have been met. If there's a possible drawback to the shape it's that the window-line may prove too high for smaller children to see out easily.

Inside, there's the usual high quality Lexus design and materials. The cabin is a pleasant place to spend a few hours touring.

Like many SUVs these days the Lexus NX is offered with both two-wheel and four-wheel drive, with a big emphasis on the latter as the two-wheel variant is only sold in one spec level, the Luxury; whereas the four-wheel drive come as Luxury, F Sport and Sports Luxury.

Engine performance is good without being outstanding. In the eternal performance / economy equation the NX 200t leans in the direction of performance, but it certainly doesn't fall into the hot-SUV category. There's some turbo lag, but that's inevitable in this sort of engine and the use of a twin-scroll turbo certainly helps minimise lag.

Handling dynamics are safe and competent enough, but this isn't a sporty SUV in the manner of the products from the Germans.

Once the engine is wound up and the transmission has got the message and when you're looking for the power to overtake safely the Lexus certainly gets up and moving nicely.

During normal driving the Lexus is likely to be at maximum torque due to the lovely spread from 1650 to 4000. This makes for relaxed driving and minimum emissions and fuel use.

The typical Lexus smooth ride and feeling of luxury has been carried down to the NX 200t and it will make an excellent touring car. The rear seat provides good legroom for most, though some may have to request those in front to give up a little of their space.

Handling dynamics are safe and competent enough, but this isn't a sporty SUV in the manner of the products from the Germans. Lexus owners say their main interest in motoring is peaceful progress in real world driving conditions.

We have only driven the NX 200t on a drive program organised by Lexus out of Canberra at this stage. A full driving report will follow after we carry out a week's test in our home area on the Gold Coast.

The market for small to medium prestige SUVs is booming in Australia, indeed globally. All the big name Germans and British marques have been operating in this field for some time and it makes a lot of sense for Lexus to join them. Lexus has built the RX midsize SUV for many years and it has proven popular downunder.

The Lexus LX is a thinly disguised Toyota LandCruiser and is most certainly not a crossover SUV. It's a real 4WD and on more than one occasion we have taken it into serious outback off-road situations, which it has handled with aplomb. We can see many Lexus LX owners adding a Lexus NX, or two, to their stable of preferred vehicles.

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Range and Specs

NX200T F Sport (awd) 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $38,490 – 41,880 2015 Lexus NX 2015 NX200T F Sport (awd) Pricing and Specs
NX300H F Sport Hybrid (awd) 2.5L, Hyb/ULP, CVT AUTO $38,990 – 44,900 2015 Lexus NX 2015 NX300H F Sport Hybrid (awd) Pricing and Specs
NX200T Luxury (awd) 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $38,450 – 39,990 2015 Lexus NX 2015 NX200T Luxury (awd) Pricing and Specs
NX200T Luxury (fwd) 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $32,981 – 41,990 2015 Lexus NX 2015 NX200T Luxury (fwd) Pricing and Specs