The Lexus NX 300 E is now available with two-wheel drive. It’s a bit cheaper than the all-wheel-drive model and still a great family SUV.
The Lexus NX already delivers almost a third of the company’s sales in South Africa. The introduction of a two-wheel-drive model will increase this ratio even further.
The NX is the first small SUV from Lexus and it certainly stands out in a crowded parking lot. It’s a conglomeration of sharp corners, angles and panels; you can imagine it was created by an eccentric Japanese origami artist after a sake party the night before. The design kind of makes sense if you understand who the people are that actually build luxury Lexus cars in Japan. To qualify as a takumi, a master craftsperson, you need to have excellent finger skills. You only become a takumi once you’re able to fold an origami cat with your non-dominant hand – your left hand if you’re righthanded or your right if you’re lefthanded. This takes some doing… Most of us can’t even tie our shoelaces using both hands after a rough night of sake tasting! The result of all the paper folding is a car that looks sharp, fast and aggressive. But it’s all an optical illusion: The NX isn’t a pocket rocket. Instead, it’s a luxurious and comfortable family car that’s filled to the brim with the latest automotive technology. The new model has received a cosmetic upgrade, with new LED lights, an even more pronounced grille, the addition of rain-sensing wipers, selflevelling headlights and a reverse camera (now also available in the cheapest model). The biggest change has taken place in the entry-level NX: going from all-wheel drive to two-wheel drive through the front wheels. Not only does this reduce the overall weight of the car, but it helps to improve fuel consumption and reduce the price (still a sturdy R600 000). The more expensive EX and F Sport models still use allwheel drive. All three models are equipped with the same 2 ℓ turbo-charged petrol engine, which delivers 175 kW and 350 Nm of torque coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission. The fourth model in the range is a 2,5 ℓ hybrid, where the petrol engine is supported by an electric motor to save fuel. It costs R746 700 and it’s especially suited to city commuting. The interior of the NX has also been spruced up and the controls have been simplified. If you’ve never driven a Lexus before, the plethora of switches and buttons – and the mouse-like gadget that controls the infotainment system – might seem overwhelming. But you’ll soon get used to it, and you might even grow to like it. The NX is up against smaller SUVs built by the big three German luxury car makers, vehicles like the BMW X1, Audi Q3 and MercedesBenz GLA. The advantage of the Lexus is that it looks unlike anything a German might build, and it comes almost fully equipped with gadgets and technology – all the things you’d have to pay extra for in other cars. The introduction of a twowheel-drive model to keep the entry-level price relatively low also counts in Lexus’s favour. People who love origami also buy cars, right?