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Lexus NX200t 2015 review

EXPERT RATING
7
Ewan Kennedy road tests and reviews the Lexus NX200t with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

The three big German marques are at it hammer and tongs in the Australian sales race at the moment. No more so that in the crossover SUV field. The very British Land Rover is starting to get involved as well with its just introduced Discovery Sport.

So it's no surprise Lexus has joined the fray, with additional models, sharp pricing and a major advertising campaign.

When launched the Lexus NX crossover came only as a hybrid, the NX300h. Lexus NX200t, the subject of this week's road test, arrived a few months later and follows the European route of using a relatively small engine, but turbocharging it to add power and, most importantly, plenty of torque. With a price list starting at $52,500 for the 2WD NX200t, the new Lexus range is well priced in comparison with the German and British opposition.

Engine / Transmission

The 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder Lexus engine has a power output of 175 kilowatts, and 350 Nm of torque. The latter is produced all the way from 1650 to 4000 rpm, a handy range for the average driver who seldom exceeds 4000 revs, so maximum grunt is there all the time.

An automatic transmission with only six forward speeds is becoming relatively rare these days so some will feel the NX is behind the field in having one.

Like many current SUVs the Lexus NX is sold with either two-wheel or four-wheel drive. However, the Australian importer has put its emphasis all-wheel-drive, the 2WD comes in just the one spec level, the Luxury. The all-wheel drive comes as Luxury, F Sport and Sports Luxury variants. Our test car was the topline Luxury Sport.

Design

One of the first statements Akio Toyoda made when he took charge of Lexus was that he didn't like his cars being described as conservative. That word will not be used when describing the Lexus NX. The huge 'spindle grille', deep swages in the doors and the sharp kick-up at the rear are more likely to be called radical than conservative.

Note that the high window-line created by this style may make it difficult for smaller children to see out. It might be an idea to take the littlies on your pre-purchase test drive to see what they see, or don't see.

Inside, there's the usual high quality Lexus design and materials set out in a design that's not as radical as the exterior, but which works well.

Features

The Lexus control system for the satnav and other multimedia functions isn't particularly easy to use, though presumably regular owners of the cars will grow accustomed to it.

Lexus NX200t Luxury and F Sport have a 10-speaker Pioneer audio system. There's the option of a 14-speaker Mark Levinson system. The latter has Green Edge technology that produces double the output from the same amount of energy as conventional speakers.

There's Bluetooth audio streaming as well as two USB ports and an Aux port in the centre console box. The Aux can play video files through the multimedia display screen with a compatible four-pole cable.

Safety

Lexus NX200t has electronic safety features that include controlled braking, emergency brake signal, vehicle stability control , traction control, ABS brakes with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution (EBD). A reversing camera is standard. Lexus Dynamic Torque Control in the AWD models helps maximise traction and cornering stability. LDW+ warns the driver if NX is about to cross lane markings without using the turn signals. It also assists with steering to avoid lane departure.

Driving

The front seats give occupants good room and provide support that's aimed at touring rather than blasting around corners. Handling dynamics are safe and competent, but this isn't a sporty SUV in the manner of the Germans in this class.

Lexus has made its name over the last 25 years by providing a quiet, smooth ride in a luxurious cabin. Lexus owners say their main interest in motoring is peaceful progress in real world driving conditions. Having lived with a Lexus in that manner for a whole week we certainly agree with them.

The rear seat provides good legroom for most adults, but some may have to ask the folks in front to give up a little of their legroom. This is hardly a criticism in this class of small-medium crossovers, but make sure you check it out with your regular travellers.

Engine performance is good without being outstanding in the Normal mode likely to be used by most owners – choosing Sport mode certainly livens it up. There's some turbo lag in each mode, but that's inevitable in this sort of engine and the use of a twin-scroll turbo helps minimise it.

Once the engine is fully boosted and the six-speed auto has selected the correct gear Lexus NX200t is a real pleasure to pilot.

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 minimises emissions and fuel use.

Fuel use during our testing was in the 6.0-7.0L/100km range on motorways and easy country running, rising to a more than acceptable 8.0-10.0L/100km around town. This compares well with the 7.7L/100 km official numbers.

Verdict

Lexus has sold the RX midsize SUV and the very large LX 4WD for many years in Australia and both have proven popular. The all-new NX is already showing every sign of outselling them both. Which comes as no surprise as this market segment is red hot at the moment.

Pricing Guides

$41,990
Based on 89 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$34,880
Highest Price
$49,500

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
NX200t F Sport (AWD) 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $38,490 – 48,880 2015 Lexus NX 2015 NX200t F Sport (AWD) Pricing and Specs
NX300h F Sport Hybrid (AWD) 2.5L, Hyb/ULP, CVT AUTO $38,888 – 48,500 2015 Lexus NX 2015 NX300h F Sport Hybrid (AWD) Pricing and Specs
NX200t Luxury (AWD) 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $34,880 – 46,990 2015 Lexus NX 2015 NX200t Luxury (AWD) Pricing and Specs
NX200t Luxury (FWD) 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $36,885 – 42,950 2015 Lexus NX 2015 NX200t Luxury (FWD) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7