Lexus delivers mix of style, tech
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