Tested: Lexus NX200t

The wake-up call

Competition is healthy. There’s nothing like feeling the warm breath of rival products on the back of your neck to drive excellence and innovation of products. Although our market is pretty much sorted for luxury compact SUV’s, Lexus just decided to give all other makers a wake-up call with their new NX range.

For those of you who don’t study Lexus brochures in your spare time, “X” denotes all-terrain vehicles of which the luxury Japanese brand had two so far: the suave RX mid-size SUV and the massive LX based on a Toyota Land-Cruiser. This new NX model follows a similar route by being loosely based on the Toyota RAV4.

Had I not mentioned this connection, you may not even have noticed the slight resemblance. And in my humble opinion it is just that – slight. Lexus did more than just drape their trademark sharp lines over a RAV; this car has amazing angles and aggressive shapes to make up its unique shape. Job well done.

…this one gets a hearty slow-clap from me.

Its interior is even bolder and certainly lifted a few levels above its modest parent company’s products. My OCD can’t handle most new Lexus cabins but this one gets a hearty slow-clap from me. The pinched dashboard mirrors the car’s pointed spindle grill with delicious layers, shapes and materials accentuating it.

Machined dials, cool white needles and a high-resolution multi-mode display make up the instruments while a lovingly crafted analogue clock sinks into the middle of the climate controls. A 7-inch VGA monitor protrudes bolt-upright from the dashboard to display infotainment, navigation and vehicle settings.

Its main controls lie on the central tunnel between the front seats and offer, among preset buttons, a touch-pad for piloting the car’s user interface. Intuitive controls on the adjustable steering wheel offer more convenience and the chance to pit your accent against the Lexus voice command system.

Seat comfort is excellent and Lexus has nailed that elevated car feeling so many SUV drivers crave. Rear passenger space is very decent and the seat backs tilt a few degrees for extra comfort; or fold flat to extend the boot space. Under its carpeted floor, the NX features extra storage and an emergency spare wheel.

Although also available as an NX300h petrol hybrid, the NX offers three 200t models with escalating specifications (E, EX and F-Sport). Lexus being Lexus, even the base car has impressive features like pleather trim, cruise control, keyless entry, LED lights, Bluetooth as well as many powered and automatic goodies.

Our EX test car topped that with park sensors and rear camera, a bigger audio system, auto wipers, seat heating and electro-chromatic rearview mirror. All NX’s feature seven airbags, a full vehicle stability system with selectable hill hold and traction control, gear shift paddles and a three-way drive mode setup.

Eco, Normal and Sport adjust the response of a brand-new 2-litre four cylinder turbo-petrol engine, which is sent to the front wheels via an equally new 6-speed automatic gearbox. Thanks to AI Shift Control, Dynamic Torque Control and an electronic front differential, it can also send up to 50% to the rear wheels.

Lexus can be jolly proud of their new motor with peak outputs of 175kW (238hp) or 350Nm thanks to direct fuel injection, twin-scroll turbo, square bore ‘n stroke, integrated manifold and other innovative bits. Its power delivery is smooth ‘n linear but, when really irritated, can lead to a smidgen of torque steer.

The NX200t’s traction and stability control cuts in with precision but only if you really over-drive it. Keep below this threshold and the new Lexus offers sporty response and admirable grip levels. Combined with the aforementioned car-like seating position, Mum or Dad can enjoy a spirited drive home from school.

Keep it pinned in a straight line and the NX200t will hit 100km/h in 7.1 seconds (ours did 7.3), topping out at 200km/h. Claimed average fuel consumption from the 60L tank is 7.9L/100km, although our average hovered around 11 a lot. We think 7.9 is a little optimistic but with a bit of care, nine should be doable.

First on a non-hybrid Lexus, the NX200t has a selectable start/stop system and various eco displays to encourage thrifty driving. We found the system to be reasonably gentle and intelligent as it educates you on its ideal operation; like pressing the brake pedal further down to call up its services.

…the new NX200t impressed us on every level.

Most modern vehicles have such features yet the new NX200t impressed us on every level. The distinctive styling and many fine details of this car – like its L-shape LED light bars, futuristic-looking door mirrors and handles – means it can actually cash the cheques that its superlative-rich marketing brochure is writing.

Prices for this EX model currently start at N$579,900 with a 4-year/100,000km warranty and service plan. Lexus’ amazing customer service is the final plus for a vehicle which doesn’t re-write the compact SUV rule book but should have the competition seriously worried.



0-10km/h: 0.43 seconds
0-20km/h: 0.93 seconds
0-30km/h: 1.47 seconds
0-40km/h: 2.10 seconds
0-50km/h: 2.75 seconds
0-60km/h: 3.54 seconds
0-70km/h: 4.38 seconds
0-80km/h: 5.26 seconds
0-90km/h: 6.21 seconds
0-100km/h: 7.35 seconds
0-110km/h: 8.72 seconds
0-120km/h: 10.10 seconds
0-130km/h: 11.69 seconds
0-140km/h: 13.83 seconds

0-100m: 6.68 seconds @ 94.08km/h
0-200m: 10.01 seconds @ 119.52km/h
0-300m: 12.84 seconds @ 136.55km/h
0-400m: 15.36 seconds @ 149.17km/h

Maximum acceleration G-force: 0.67G

Altitude: 51m

All data captured by Racelogic® Performance Box

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