Lexus NX 200T

Combo of pricing and style

"The first-ever Lexus with a turbocharged engine"

"The name NX stands for Nimble Crossover"

"On the move, the NX200 behaves predictably smooth and refined"

"The overall handling was a pleasing experience" said Ershad

It's never too late to do something. The compact crossover segment was almost unknown to Lexus and when things developed, they seem to make an impact. Such is the case with the all new Lexus NX 200t, the first-ever Lexus with a turbocharged engine. The name NX stands for "Nimble Crossover". Targeted to attract young buyers in the region, the model is pretty much self-content to achieve every objective.

Currently, the crossover segment is fairly crowded and sometimes it takes a while to catch up with the trend. Just after revealing the NX at Beijing in April 2014, Lexus barely took time to get the cars in showrooms. So we took the car out for test, and the F sport version the week after. I'll be going through both variants at once.

The NX 200t has a striking appeal. When I first saw the model in Dubai, my initial thought was to check with designers about if they took any tips from an ex-Lamborghini. I mean, the razor sharp lines and aggressive stance suggest the sporty part of it. Signature Lexus spindle grille and L-themed headlights express the bold design. Strong shoulder line with a reclining rearward profile makes a nice athlete of the NX. The wide wheel arches add to the muscular look and LED headlamps with DRLs tick with modernity.

On paper, the model is closely related to Toyota's RAV4, but let's be fair, it's just the wheelbase which remains common - the rest is all Lexus. NX is also the first to feature door handle mechanism with hidden key barrel; in short, a keyhole-less handle.

The F-sport version features mesh black grille which is integrated with a metallic coated lower bumper molding and black side mirrors. It's got a set of 10 spoke 18 inch alloy wheel designs.

Lexus interiors are known to be lavish and comfy. They are no different here; in fact, they add more to the techy and sporty aspects. There was enough room for the driver and front passenger with easy access to controls. The center stack looks modern and layered.

Everything inside, including the buttons, dials, display and a tricky mouse pad were just about "enough size". The model features the first application of a new Lexus Remote Touch Interface (RTI) with a touch pad, for easy access to the driver. Through the touch pad we can control audio and navigation and view them on a 4.2 inch Multi-Information Display in the center. It is also the first Lexus to offer a Qi Wireless Charging Tray. Ideally, we can charge a smartphones or a mobile by just placing it in the tray. My phone wasn't compatible, so I couldn't try Qi charging.

A leather wrapped vanity mirror was placed just below the touch pad - weird, but a first of its kind. And for entertainment, we've got a Mark Levinson premium surround sound system featuring 12 channel amplifiers to drive 14 ultra-high efficiency speakers. Lexus, hence a customary color head-up display to keep a track on speed, tachometer, audio and navigation system.

The highlight in terms of comfort was the world's first power folding 60:40 split/recline rear seat. We can adjust the seat reclining angle using switches and this is a great deal for rear passengers, especially on long drives.

In the F-sport edition, we have tight-cuddling, premium seats in a special red. Brushed metallic gearshift and a steering wheel with perforated leather surface are other additions. Drilled non-slip aluminum pedals and footrest as the manufacturers say is inspired by LFA. It was quite awkward to see a G sensor display along with other gauges - kind of too much.

Let's talk about the engine. A 2.0 liter, inline 4 cylinder, direct-injection twin scroll turbo charger engine with a 6 speed automatic transmission on a 4WD set up. It can deliver 235 hp at 4800 - 5,600 rpm with 350Nm of torque from 1,650-4,000 rpm. Dampers are further refined by advanced coil springs and gas-filled shock absorbers.

The F Sport features an Adaptive Variable Suspension system. Here they have performance dampers to ensure better handling and stability.

On the move, the NX200 behaves predictably smooth and refined. The size of it makes it pretty much a city car. Steering wheel was nimble, nicely weighted with a decent feedback. The fun part, however, was the torque in low revs. It's got that odd kick; odd because it was unexpected. In corners, we noticed a bit of understeer but that was likely for this size, wasn't it? For a better grip and control, Lexus has introduced pre-load front differential. It's a system that gets into action for stability when while cornering there's an imbalance between the right and left wheels. Honestly, I didn't catch that part in my drive. Gearshifts were seamless without hiccups and so the overall handling was a pleasing experience.

The drive goes on a firmer side in the F Sport NX and that's due to the special suspension and dampers which were quite reactive. A little more punch can be added by just switching the mode to Sport or Sport plus. Then comes a cheeky add on for some more excitement - partly fake though. Active Sound Control (ASC) that can be adjusted to raise the sporty note of the engine noise inside the cabin. The whole point being: full on action in and out. I'd go for the F Sport edition over the normal NX any day, and that's all for the super cool fascia.

Verdict
The NX 200t certainly shouts for a long stay in the compact crossover league. It's got style, the Lexus refinement, gadgets and a comfy ride to offer. I am pretty sure the model is already marked well by the likes of BMW X3, Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLK and Volvo XC60 as the NX has a nice combo of pricing and style.

Pros: stylish design, premium cabin, handling, safety, rear reclining seats, city car
Cons: rear visibility
Rivals: BMW X3, Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLK, Volvo XC60
Engine: 2.0 liter, inline 4, twin scroll turbo charger engine, 235 hp @ 4800 - 5,600 rpm, 350Nm @ 1,650-4,000 rpm
Transmission: 6 Speed Automatic, 4WD
Performance: 0-100 kph: 7.2 sec, 8 L /100 km, top speed: 198 kph
Chassis: 1791 kg
4 STARS 
One word: stylish

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