Lexus de­liv­ers mix of style, tech

Winnipeg Free Press - Section F - - FRONT PAGE - By Haney Louka

IDON’T nor­mally think of Lexus as a late­comer to the party. For ex­am­ple, the brand al­most sin­gle­hand­edly rev­o­lu­tion­ized the luxury car mar­ket when it ar­rived, with all of the oth­ers try­ing to em­u­late its com­bi­na­tion of luxury, qual­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity.

But with the new NX, Lexus is the Johnny-come-lately of the pint-sized luxury cross­over util­ity ve­hi­cle cat­e­gory — a group of en­tries that have but one job: to pro­vide an en­try point for as­pir­ing own­ers of pre­mi­um­branded rides who don’t want a sedan.

Granted, this is a new seg­ment, one made nec­es­sary by the con­stant growth of those mod­els that once held the en­try-level CUV la­bel for their re­spec­tive pre­mium mar­ques. But the Lexus RX, Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLK have all moved up in terms of size and price, mak­ing space for a gag­gle of new­com­ers to form a class only three years old. The BMW X1, Audi Q3, Mercedes GLA and Range Rover Evoque are all that age or younger. With the NX, Lexus is say­ing loud and clear it wants to play in the sand­box, too.

There’s no deny­ing the NX’s dis­tinc­tive de­sign will get it no­ticed. While the sig­na­ture spin­dle grille has made its way into ev­ery model in the lineup, it’s more suc­cess­ful than most in this it­er­a­tion.

Step into the driver’s seat and there is more of the same: the IS/RC re­sem­blance is im­me­di­ate, and re­flec­tive of Lexus’s de­sire to re­duce the me­dian age of its cus­tomers. The cock­pit has a low-slung, sporty ap­pear­ance yet man­ages to in­cor­po­rate the ex­pected Lexus luxe feel. It’s not im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous when sit­ting in the front seat that this isn’t a sports coupe.

The driver is treated to in­ti­mate sur­round­ings, with a fo­cus on con­trols be­ing where they’re ex­pected. Though I’d choose a touch screen in an in­stant over any knob-con­trolled user in­ter­face, Lexus has come up with a win­ner con­trolled by a touch pad po­si­tioned be­hind the shifter for a nat­u­ral reach. One doesn’t need to look down to the con­sole to find it, and the hap­tic feed­back pro­vided by the touch pad

PHO­TOS BY HANEY LOUKA / WIN­NIPEG FREE PRESS

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