WHISTLER, BC – Lexus chose one of Canada’s most scenic locations for the global unveiling of its new NX utility vehicle. That visual connection is critical since this is one of the most highly stylized vehicles in the relatively brief history of Lexus.
2015 Lexus NX.JPGThe 2015 NX gives Toyota’s luxury division a new entry-level CUV aimed at attracting new and younger people to the brand. The NX enters a burgeoning sector. The compact luxury CUV market is hot, with Mercedes bringing the GLA and BMW the X1 to the fray and Audi due soon with its Q3.
While roughly based on the platform that serves beneath the Toyota RAV4, the NX bears no resemblance to that popular CUV. Its wheelbase and width are the same but everything else, inside and out, including the drivetrain and point of assembly differs.
Every time you look at the NX, you notice something else the design team spent extra time on in the interests of aerodynamics or style, whether it be the LED light clusters at either end, the mirrors or a body panel. Design details abound from the corporate spindle grill to the elaborate tailgate.
Recognizing that nobody uses a key to gain access to a vehicle in this day and age, there is no visible key hole in or near the door handle. Should you actually need to use the key built into the remote fob, the key barrel is hidden, accessed by pulling out the handle, which features integrated lighting so you can do so in the dark.
2015 Lexus NX.JPGThe interior is also heavily styled with nary a flat, uninterrupted surface to be found. The instrument panel has four highly-legible analog instruments flanking a configurable 10-cm TFT display. The centre stack is topped by an 18-cm VGA display used for navigation, infotainment and rear-view camera information. Like similar recent efforts by Mazda and Mercedes, it is meant to look like a stand-alone iPod.
The NX has an electric parking brake and an adjustable colour HUD (heads-up display). The infotainment system is controlled by the latest generation remote touch interface using gesture controls and the sub-woofer of the audio upgrade system is in the rear cargo door.
2015 Lexus NX.JPGThe front buckets are well bolstered and provide lots of support to critical areas of the anatomy. The rear seat comfortably accommodates a pair of adults and folds almost flat without having to remove the head restraints. The rear cargo area is the longest in the segment.
Available features include a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross traffic alert, a camera-based lane departure warning system and radar-based cruise control with a pre-collision warning system.
There are a variety of unique touches including a wireless charging tray, developed by Lexus, for Apple products, a cup-holder that allows you to open a bottle with one hand and a G-sensor on the F-Sport model that allows the driver to monitor acceleration, braking and cornering forces. That instrument is perhaps a stretch since neither cornering nor acceleration forces will test its extremes.
The NX comes from Japan with two available drivetrains, the NX 200t with the first turbocharged engine in Lexus history and the 300h hybrid.
The NX 200t’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine is all-new from crankshaft to valve-train. It has “fan-spray” direct injection, a twin scroll turbo and uniquely operates on the Atkinson cycle to maximize fuel efficiency, switching to the normal Otto cycle when power is a priority. The result is 235 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque.
This engine has undergone more than three-million kilometres of testing in the real world, hidden under the hood of various Toyota and Lexus products. It is paired with a six-speed automatic and full-time all-wheel-drive system.
The NX 300h hybrid shares its drivetrain with the ES350h – a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor producing a combined net output of 194 horspower.
Behind the wheel
Both 200t and 300h versions provide more than adequate, if not impressive, power. They are silky smooth and quiet under all conditions.
The six-speed automatic and F-Sport combination is suited to anyone with a tendency to explore the performance envelope. The CVT-hybrid combination is best left to those who place fuel efficiency atop their priority list and rarely use extended periods of wide open throttle.
2015 Lexus NX.JPGThe MacPherson strut front and independent rear suspension provide a modicum of prowess on the twisty bits but this is still a rather tall and heavy vehicle so don’t expect it to double as an autocross entry on the weekend. The ride quality is composed at all times with no head toss or other signs you are in an SUV.
The 200t can be equipped with a variety of upgrade packages, the 300h comes fully equipped and an F-Sport model will be available in two guises, Series 1 and Series 2 with unique styling inside and out including exclusive sport seats. Its steering, brake and suspension systems have all been tuned for more enthusiastic motoring.
Lexus is in the midst of a concerted attempt to alter its staid image into one more attractive to youth. The NX is a clear example of that change. Due in dealer lots this fall it will be followed by the new RC coupe. Details of pricing and fuel consumption are not yet available.
- See more at: http://www.autofile.ca/Review/270/FI....tbF0Y7xj.dpuf
Over the last few months, the editors of ClubLexus have written a lot about how much we love the aggressive design language Lexus has developed. And when I got to shoot the production-spec version of the 2015 NX? I was impressed. Very seldom does a vehicle make such a smooth transition from concept to consumer--the sharp sheet metal didn't lose its edges in the transition.
And when I got a chance to talk to NX Chief Engineer Takeaki Kato at the press launch, the first thing I wanted to know was how his team was able to deliver a vehicle which looked so close to the concept. He's a super approachable guy who daily drives an MR2 turbo and has a full driving simulator rig in his house. If you truly love cars and the experience of driving, he's exactly the kind of guy you want making the important calls on a vehicle. Now, I know there have been loads of advances in manufacturing techniques in recent years, that alloys are stronger and stiffer than they have ever been, and that we're living at the dawn of the era of 3D printing. So I expected technical points would dominate his explanation--but they didn't.
It turns out that most of the credit for the sexy sheet metal can be attributed to a team of young engineers who worked closely with the production team to insure every element of the bold design would make it to the production vehicle. There was some trial and error, he explained, but every time he was about to make a concession, the production team would ask for another shot. And every time they delivered.
So we know the 2015 NX looks great. It's obvious if you're one of those people who can see out of your eyes. My gut says this baby will set sales records based on its exterior alone. But how does it drive?
Quite well, actually--the beauty of the NX is more than skin deep. I got to sample three versions, the 200t--in both standard and F SPORT trim--and the 300h, and I came away pretty impressed. Kato's team used the IS as a benchmark during testing, and while the elevated view from the windshield means you're never going to forget you're in a crossover, the fun driving dynamics of its sports sedan sibling have definitely been transferred to the NX. I opted to work my way up the ladder, so I started with the base NX, moved up to the hybrid and then spent most of the afternoon flogging the F SPORT model. All the variants performed well, and I particularly appreciated the kickdown feature in the hybrid's new six-speed transmission, which provides the kind of feel you'd expect from a conventional power plant during the hard acceleration.
Unsurprisingly, the F SPORT was the most fun to drive. While the NX is based off of RAV4, lessons learned in building the IS--including the use of laser screw welding and advanced body adhesive--have made for a chassis that's 20% stiffer than the one found in its Toyota cousin. The urethane sealant used to hold the windshield in is actually rigid enough that it allows the glass to act as a load-bearing part of the structure and resist twisting when cornering.
During the pre-drive presentation, Kato used the analogy of trying to hold a 2x4 in your hand and simultaneously drive a nail through it to illustrate the important role rigidity plays regarding performance. I thought it was easy and effective enough that it's now my go-to way to explain the concept. The 2.0-liter turbocharged engine puts out 235 horsepower and 258lb-feet of torque, and while it's not going to set your hair on fire with blindingly quick 0-60 times, it has enough grunt to insure that the NX never feels pokey or slow. One of the features of the F SPORT that I really got a kick out of was the Active Sound Control. Basically, it used a dedicated speaker to allow the driver to adjust the amount of engine noise that's delivered into the cabin. Turn it off and the NX is typical Lexus library inside the womb quiet, but crank the dial up and you can suddenly hear the little mill going to work, and it's pretty cool.
Now, I've been skeptical of these systems in the past--particularly when BMW put a similar setup into the M5--but I genuinely enjoyed playing with it. My sole complaint regarding the ASC was that it couldn't go louder. I wonder how long it will take for some new owner to hack it so can be adjusted to a block-rocking volume? But my favorite element of the NX has to be the steering. As with other vehicles in the Lexus line up, switching between the various driving modes--normal, eco and sport--makes for a decidedly different feel, and for a system which utilizes electric power steering, it manages to feel incredibly direct and precise. While a direct connection to the front wheels might be going the way of the dodo, the level of confidence and feel the Lexus engineers were able to get out of the system is excellent and bodes well for the future of Lexus' entire performance line.
All the vehicles had a prototype disclaimer--stating that some of the materials and fit and finish might not be up to production standards--on the sun visor, I found everything to be universally Lexus excellent. One of the details which I though communicated the level attention the marque pays to even the smallest elements of its cars was the fact that the cup holders all had non-slip surfaces in the base. Put a beverage in there, and you can twist off the cap without having to hold the bottle. It's the kind of smart, simple touch which makes you wonder why companies haven't been doing this for years. The NX is set to hit American showrooms in the early fall, and I predict it'll be a big hit with the mid-30s first-time luxury buyers Lexus is targeting. Expect to see a lot of these babies on the road next year.
Scroll down to check out all my pictures from the drive and to check out the official documentation on the latest addition to the Lexus lineup!
While Land Rover arguably invented the concept of a luxury SUV with their first Range Rover, the 1998 Lexus RX is the vehicle that's had the single biggest impact on the luxury industry. Initially derided by the press as a lifted Camry with delusions of grandeur, calling the RX a run away sales success would be an understatement. Lexus' original crossover now accounts for over a third of the brand's total volume in America and holds the crown as the best selling luxury vehicle on our shores. Trouble is, the RX has grown over time and is now a half-step too big for European tastes. In the hopes of dominating a third of Lexus brand sales in Europe, Lexus engineers went back to the drawing board and created s little brother for the RX: the 2015 Lexus NX.
Lexus NX Chief Engineer Takeaki Kato has spent 28 years in vehicle development at Toyota, starting in advanced safety engineering and later overseeing development of the second-generation Lexus IS sedan and the current RX crossover.
The new NX compact cross-over was a different animal. At the vehicle's press launch in Vancouver, British Columbia, Kato spoke with Staff Reporter Mark Rechtin about the challenge.
Q: How much of the NX platform is shared with the Toyota RAV4?
A: From the center to the rear is basically new, with no commonized parts. The front bumpers and crash box are totally different. But while the inside rocker panel is reinforced, the outside structure is the same.
For some parts, there was no need to change. We could carry over the wheelbase because the RAV has a good package, with good legroom. But things like the suspension bushings are different. We used the same geometry of suspension, but all the parts are different.
Things like the rear suspension members were retooled to make a tighter chassis. We retooled all the RAV tooling to make it more severe, with better fit and rigidity. The accuracy of the parts was very important, to get the body rigidity tighter.
Could the NX come down the same assembly line as the RAV4 in Woodstock, Ontario?
Technically, we could do it, but much investment would be needed. We have different rigidity in the body.
There is more high-tensile sheet metal, and more use of adhesives, laser screw welds and spot welds. I think it's too different.
Why a turbo instead of a V-6?
The trend globally has changed to smaller displacement engines with turbos.
You want the NX to have a sportier feel. So why not have a dual-clutch transmission, like Audi?
Dual clutch makes a good point for fuel economy and more direct feeling, but the sacrifice is some slight shift shock.
What was the biggest challenge in taking such a radical design to production?
The production engineers were challenged by making such a deep crease in the side sheet metal, which meant a deeper pressing in the rear door opening. But that also would have meant a smaller interior space, and we needed to keep the capacity of the cabin. They were motivated to succeed.
The numbers for the 200t aren't particularly impressive and essentially tie the competition.
The NX needs a diet, and the 200t needs an 8AT.
2.0t gets slightly better mpg than Audi Q5, Hybrid gets a lot better mpg than diesels.
Weight is surprising but i guess it should not be. Luxury weights! They did not joke about using 90% of unique parts.
What I found interesting was the trunk - as we could see in pics, it is pretty large... but the rating makes it very low. This is US spec rating. And all the journalists commented how small the trunk is. I would guess it is due to trunk cover and it is rating up to it as it is firm cover.
What was hilarious is that same car, under Canadian and Australian specs, has large boot and these journalists commented how large the boot is.
So after all that, reading the reviews - probably overall best reviewed Lexus vehicle to date. They are extremely positive on pretty much everything (except US for boot capacity).