Off-road? Space? All nice bonuses. But what makes an SUV really attractive is the incomparable feeling of security that the mobile defenses convey. The Lexus NX does this particularly consistently.
The stylistic device of aggressiveness is usually used in automotive design to convey a thirst for aggression. With the NX, the almost spiky body with its tips, corners and edges looks more like a defensive bulwark. The bulky radiator grille shield stands upright against the environment, with the headlights deterringly looking past the jagged flanks. And as an occupant, you take a seat behind a high parapet and look down on the environment through embrasure windows. More castle is not possible in the SUV middle class.
The impression continues in the generally narrow interior. It is narrow and a little dark. The driver is densely walled by a massive center console, high door panels and the armor of the tight-fitting sports seats. The (optional) dark headlining reinforces the effect. Depending on the psychological disposition, this either causes claustrophobia or a homely feeling of complete security. You may or may not like the design of the NX - but the design is in any case coherent, made very carefully in detail and quite original. In the already exhausted shape of the SUV class, Lexus sets its own accents here.
In theory, the NX is also suitable for a different reading than that of the defense bulwark. Because the angular aggressiveness of the body also has something offensive - like with a jet fighter or combat ship. However, a thought of attack or frenzy passes quickly when you get behind the wheel. The NX is available with either a 145 kW / 197 hp hybrid drive or - as in the test car - with a two-liter turbo gasoline engine and 175 kW / 238 hp. If the hybrid is basically not a high-performance drive in the Toyota understanding, the brand new four-cylinder petrol engine has to struggle above all with the high vehicle weight and the somewhat hesitant six-speed automatic. There is still enough of the nominally rich performance to push the four-wheel drive confidently over the highway, but that doesn't make the NX an offensive sports car. Anyone who tries to use vehement gas has to expect clearly double-digit consumption values. And even if the driving style is withdrawn, you should be happy with a nine before the decimal point. A diesel would certainly be the better choice here. Nevertheless, the turbo engine is a huge step up from the phlegmatic V6 vacuum cleaner used as the standard alternative to the hybrid in the larger Lexus models.
In any case, the turbo engine is very sophisticated. Even at higher speeds, the loudest noise inside the fans is the standard automatic climate control. When it comes to chassis, a test of the series range is worthwhile. The test car, on the other hand, was equipped with the optional “F-Sport” package including an adaptive sports suspension, which tends to ensure rough handling, without compensating for this with superior sportiness when cornering. Ultimately, the 5.000 euros for the sports package are probably better used elsewhere, for example in the practical head-up display (2.200 euros including high-beam and lane departure warning assistant) or the all-round view camera (1.350 euros including blind spot and rear space -Assistant).
A little bit of thought is needed when configuring the NX anyway. Even the basic model with hybrid and front-wheel drive costs 39.800 euros, if you want the gasoline and all-wheel drive, you have to invest 43.400 euros. Should it also be the “F-Sport” equipment, the dealer quickly writes 54.450 euros and more in the purchase contract. The German competition in the form of the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes GLC is no longer more expensive.
The bottom line, as is so often the case, is the desire for a special automobile route for the luxury exotic from Japan. In this case, in addition to the exclusive rarity, there is also a good shot of real originality. Anyone who likes it tight and sheltered in the SUV will not be better served anywhere else.
Author: Holger Holzer / SP-X