12 SEPTEMBER 2022
© 2022 Business Travel News Ltd.
It is not often one sits in a car and says “This is for me”.
The new Lexus NX 350 F Sport mini SUV is one of those.
Maybe it is the high driving position, perhaps the very comfortable seats, or possibly the ease in finding the controls.
Which one I am not sure says Editor-in-Chief Malcolm Ginsberg who borrowed the mid-size four-wheel drive SUV from local dealer Lexus Colindale, part of the Jemca Group.
Handed the keys by the thoroughly Lexus briefed Sales Manager the car of course features remote unlocking, with the puddle lights and daytime running lights illuminated. As the door is opened the instrument panel light up.
Once seated, the next minor task places one’s mobile phone on the self-charging pad.
The ignition is where one would expect to find it on a sister, upmarket car to the Toyota range with similar controls. It’s to the left of the steering wheel. That is not always the case. Some manufacturers hide it away. The seat itself has a multitude of settings. Three fixed alternative positions can be set, presumably for the car’s main driver, and two others. The car feels quality.
Above the rear view mirror is an SOS button, also the controls for the sunroof plus a childproof door lock.
Everything comes to hand very easily. There are paddle shifts behind the heated leather steering wheel. The front seats are also heated and ventilated.
In the back there is plenty of room for three.
The car comes with a 360-degree camera view system which utilises a front, rear and two side cameras which are integrated into the body of the car. Parking could not be easier and for the brave there is an auto car placement system.
The familiar external styling hides a major technical overhaul. Going onto the same TNGA-K model platform as the current Toyota RAV4 and Toyota Highlander, the NX has grown by an inch or so here and there but most significantly has wider axle tracks, a lower centre of gravity and a more rigid chassis than its forebear. It also has an all-new interior, with a fresh generation of Lexus infotainment technology. Full time ownership is required to understand all the IT innovations but it is still a driver’s car and we have not yet reached a point where you dictate a postal code and the vehicle will find its own way! The 20 inch machined alloy wheels make for a very smooth ride, and are smart too! But send for the AA if you have to change them!
The test car was a four-cylinder 2.5 litre ‘self-charging’ petrol-electric hybrid with an 8-speed smooth as silk automatic gearbox, a not that quiet 0-60 mph of something around eight seconds with a hypothetical top speed of 120 mph. In town 50 miles per gallon can be expected although that drops on motorway use.
The original NX, introduced in 2014, became Lexus’ best-selling UK car. Currently, the NX accounts for around one third of Lexus’ European sales volume. NX is also a core model globally, with cumulative worldwide sales already above one million units.
Layout of controls and information sources optimised for “hands on the wheel, eyes on the road” with minimum hand and eye movement needed for operation. The head-up display is very good, typically with really clear roundabout instructions backed up by voice commands that make you feel at ease. And if a caller is on your phone contact list, assuming blue tooth is switched on, the name comes up on your screen too.
The NX also debuts a new multimedia platform that takes connectivity, information and convenience to a higher level, and benefits from expansion of the scope and functionality of the next generation Lexus Safety System + active safety and driver assistance systems to help guard against an even wider range of accident risks and reduce the burden on the driver.
The clever packaging of the NX’s interior allows for a generous load capacity; the load space height is the same as in the previous model but is 40mm longer. Thus, load space is 545 litres with the rear seats in place – more space for day-to-day use. This increases to a maximum 1,436 litres with the seats folded down. There is sufficient room to carry three golf bags or two large suitcases (77 and 63 litres), without the seats being lowered.
An example of the level of detail in noise suppression measures is the low noise register design of the fins in the fascia air vents: noise from the airflow is reduced by small protrusions on the surface of the fins, arranged in a serrated pattern.
The NX F Sport models feature dark chrome exterior details, a mesh grille and the 20-inch alloy wheels with a 10-spoke design inspired the wheels used on Lexus’ LC flagship coupe. There are also new front and rear bumper designs with larger side vents cut into the front bumper. Two colours are exclusive to the F Sportmodels – Sapphire Blue and F White.
The Climate Concierge ensures cabin temperature is precisely adjusted to suit each occupant, co-ordinating operation of the seat and steering wheel heaters as well as the air conditioning. With S-Flow control, the system recognises which seats are occupied, directing heating or cooling performance accordingly, while also taking into account the temperature setting, the cabin temperature, the ambient temperature and the effect of sunlight through the windows.
The rear divides three ways to allow for different arrangements of the boot space and is designed so that the storage area below can be reached without having to remove the entire board. The boot is also equipped with a side storage net and a lightweight folding tonneau cover that can be stored in a dedicated space in the boot floor.
The back door can be opened and closed using a switch on the instrument panel or the button on the vehicle key; there is also a switch on the underside of the tailgate and an additional switch to close the door and lock the vehicle. The opening height of the door can be set to a preferred height, for example to avoid hitting a low garage ceiling. An assist function will close the door fully when it is pulled down manually.
I started this report by saying that the Lexus NX 350 F Sport was for me the moment I sat in it. On the road it was sheer pleasure looking down on most, with little body role on roundabouts, and a very tidy ride. If you drive it hard it is slightly noisy, but is not that type of car. Lexus means quality and the new NX F Sport emphasises just that. Try for yourself.
Ride and Comfort 8
On the road price £58,220
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