The compact crossover segment is shaping up to be a highly attractive one for carmakers and Lexus are no exception to this. In January, UMW Toyota Motor Sdn Bhd launched the Lexus NX in Malaysia, which adds a Japanese option to the luxury crossover segment that includes the BMW X3 and Volvo XC60.
Available in five variants, the Lexus NX is a new model addition to Lexus’ vehicle lineup, sitting below the larger RX, making it a more attractive proposition if a large SUV is a little too unwieldy for yourself.
When it was launched, the NX also debuted an all-new 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine which makes it way to four of the five variants in Malaysia, with the exception being the hybrid NX 300h. Here we have the NX 200t F Sport, representing the sportiest of all five variants. Can the newcomer have something to offer in this niche luxury segment? That’s what we’re here to find out, but first…
The Lexus NX200t F Sport is priced at RM362,432.45 (OTR price without insurance with GST) which is quite a premium, but fret not as the entry-level model sans the ‘F Sport’ comes in at just RM287,198.66 which makes it even more affordable than the BMW X3 xDrive20i, which starts at RM325,800.
You also get quite a bit of kit for that money too, with a full suite of safety systems, infotainment, and powered seats at the front, along with a generous amount of interior space. Coupled with good build quality and a three-year warranty (or 100,000km, whichever first), the NX is good value if you’re looking to purchase a car in this segment.
As far as colour choices are concerned, six are made available with Exceed Blue ME reserved for NX 200t F Sport (seen here is Sonic Quartz).
- Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder twin-scroll turbo
- Transmission: Six-speed torque converter automatic, Dynamic Torque Control AWD
- Power: 235hp @ 4,500 to 5,600rpm
- Torque: 350Nm @ 1,650 to 4,000rpm
- 0-100km/h: 7.1 seconds
Driving a 2015 Lexus NX 200t F Sport:
Powering the NX 200t F Sport is an all-new 2.0-litre four-cylinder twin-scroll turbo petrol engine paired to a six-speed torque converter automatic with Dynamic Torque Control AWD. With 235hp and 350Nm of torque on tap, the NX is a very quick car, at times leaving you unaware of your current velocity when the accelerator pedal is leaned in just that little bit more.
For a vehicle with a kerb weight of nearly 2 tonnes, the NX accomplishes the century sprint in just 7.1 seconds, and will hit a top speed of 200km/h. Power delivery is very progressive and immediate thanks to the twin-scroll turbos which makes it very easy to manage and call upon when you need that sudden burst of speed to overtake.
Touted as a raised sports car by Takeaki Kato, Chief Engineer for the Lexus NX, the 200t F Sport certainly has the going power, but it is still limited by its body shape and heft. The front suspension are MacPherson struts while the rear is a trailing arm type double wishbone, both of which are sports-tuned, and ensures the NX’s body roll is kept in check through the corners.
However, when tackling a corner at speed, there is a sense that the NX is just stepping out of its handling comfort zone. The Dynamic Torque Control AWD does attempt to keep things in check, varying the power sent to the rear wheels to switch between front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive as and when needed, and you can feel it in action as it tries to pivot the rear of the car back in line by sending more drive to the back.
The NX tries to be a raised sports car but a higher centre of gravity is the reason most sports cars are kept low. The NX is certainly a lot of fun to drive, but only up to a limit.
The sports suspension is certainly appreciated for performance driving where firmness is required, but for day-to-day driving, especially when you consider the condition of our roads with its potholes and other random deformities, the NX does feel rather stiff, resulting a rough ride.
It isn’t back-breaking stiff, but it isn’t the most comfortable of experiences either. We do, however, understand that this is a performance-oriented variant with its sports suspension setup and thinner profile tyres. I do reckon that the other non-F Sport variants would provide a better ride with thicker tyres and the omission of the sports suspension.
Driving the NX, you begin to appreciate the various systems that make looking out of the crossover an effortless affair. Starting with the 10-way powered driver seat (8-way for the front passenger) that is easily adjusted for height if you need a little boost to look out the large front window. The front seats, except the base grade, even have a cooling function, especially useful for our humid climate.
On the move, the Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) is a treat to use, saving you form a strained neck by lighting up to indicate if another vehicle is in the car’s blind spot – and if you do use the indicators to switch into said lane, they begin to blink to remind you to be cautious. They aren’t obtrusive either, and are easily spotted.
Not once was there any anxiety when trying to park the NX, not even in tight spaces. It’s the minor things you may not notice about the car that makes it so easy to navigate in. Slip it in reverse and the side mirrors angle downwards to allow you to guide the vehicle more precisely. Need more help? Refer to the panoramic view monitor, which at a push of a button, gives a bird's eye view of the car.
Keep in mind that some of these features are only available on specific variants like the panoramic view monitor which is only found on the Luxury, F Sport, and Hybrid. One item exclusively available in the F Sport is the panoramic fixed glass roof.
The controls for the features are all easily reached by the driver as well, including the Drive Mode selector, climate control, and Remote Touch Controller. A particular feature I enjoyed was the brake auto hold that works even if you leave the car in ‘D’, negating the need to shift the car into ‘N’ and engage the handbrake. It’s all very easy and effortless when behind the wheel and certainly alleviates the fatigue related to driving.
Living with a 2015 Lexus NX 200t F Sport:
As far as space is concerned, the front driver and passenger have ample amounts of it with enough stowage spaces if required. The rear is capable of seating three comfortably with generous amounts of legroom. If needed, the seats can be folded in a 60:40 split, expanding upon the available 500 litre boot space.
Accessing the boot is done with an electric liftgate for added convenience and provides a nice flat and easy entry for your cargo loading needs. There are even latches to hook your payload into place and a removable tonneau cover.
On the entertainment front, the NX 200t F Sports is fitted with Lexus’ proprietary 7-inch display infotainment unit with multiple media inputs, navigation, and doubles as a screen for the panoramic view cameras. The system is controlled via a remote touch controller located on the centre console which is neat but not very intuitive. Audio playback is done through a Mark Levinson 14-speaker system that sounds great to the ears – available on the F Sport and Hybrid only.
Drivers will benefit from a power adjustable steering column, high contrast analogue clock plus a coloured 4.2" Multi Information Display (MID). On the F Sport variant, the interior is exclusively available in black and dark rose two-tone combination (the demo unit here), Qi-standard wireless charger, and various F Sport badging and for those who want something sporty to look at, the MID will even display the turbos’ boost pressure and G-force readouts.
The entry-level 200t misses out on the above-mentioned items so you’ll have to look towards the Premium variant and upwards for a more substanstial equipment list.
With the new Lexus crossover, potential buyers have alternatives to vehicles such as the BMW X3, which does have a more subtle look inside and out when compared, but is priced higher than the most affordable NX which offers a similarly impressive package paired to good build quality.
The Lexus NX is therefore the perfect alternative in the luxury compact crossover segment and this 200t F Sport is suited for those who want that little bit more style to stand out from the regular model and who can blame them. The regular car is already quite a looker but it looks even better with the F Sport’s wire mesh spindle grille and dual five-spoke darken wheels.
Add to that a formidable powertrain, copious amounts of space, and effortless convenience while behind the wheel and you have a winning formula for Lexus.