First drive: 2015 Lexus NX 200t in the UAE
In a surprise move, the 2015 Lexus NX 200t has made its GCC debut, rather quickly after going on sale in Europe and America just recently. Hitting the ground running, the UAE dealer already has cars in the showroom, and put us in a few of them, although it was just a brief convoy-style drive in traffic.
The NX 200t is the Japanese carmaker’s first compact crossover, having peddled the midsize RX 350 since forever. Unlike the dishonest Germans, the name actually does mean that there is a 2.0-litre turbo engine under that overstyled skin.
With a platform only partially based on that of the Toyota RAV4, the NX is a fairly attractive car that feels completely unique from anything else that the company peddles. While the styling may be divisive based on your personal preferences, we surprisingly liked this car more than the pretentious RC Coupe.
And the reason for that is, again, the brand’s first turbocharged engine. Aside from 235 hp, it’s the 350 Nm of torque from 1650 rpm that makes the difference, as there is never a shortage of kick, whether jumping into traffic from a side road or quickly overtaking slower-moving trucks. It runs out of steam eventually, but the power band is perfectly suited to daily driving.
The 6-speed gearbox complements the engine well, mostly because we don’t remember it doing anything untoward. Our test car had paddle-shifters, but we didn’t need to use them at any point.
Lexus also seems to have worked on the feel of the controls, as there is decent heft to the electric steering as well as a certain amount of feedback, however “simulated” it might be. Even the brake pedal has some weight, so it’s easy to judge braking distances with your foot.
Our “regular” NX’s ride and handling were fine at the legal speeds we were doing around the city, although we heard some of the other journalists complaining about the firmer ride in the mesh-grilled F-Sport variant they were driving.
As for the interior, we didn’t have much time to check out the multimedia tech or even open the rear doors, but we can mention that the ambience from the front seats is nice, with stitched leather and soft-touch surfaces, although there are certain hard-plastic panels that are sneakily tacked on as well, such as the dash area behind the steering wheel as well as the lower half of the doors. Of course we’re nitpicking here, as every single one of its European rivals are guilty of the same.
From our brief drive, it seems like the Lexus NX 200t is a pretty good entry. It’s the first Lexus we’ve seen that’s actually as good as the top dogs and not just a rehashed version of an old model, like all their other models are. It’s priced well too, and with its expected Japanese reliability, makes a very compelling case for being on your shopping list, assuming you’re into pricey little crossovers.
For UAE prices and specs, visit the Lexus NX buyer guide.