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.

go! - - Contents - BY PIERRE STEYN

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?

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