What’s the difference between 200 and 300 as far as Lexus’s crossover is concerned? Damien O’carroll reckons not much, other than an opportunity for a freshen up and a reminder that ‘luxury’ and ‘Lexus’ are synonymous.
Clearly making an effort to catch up with the European premium brands, Lexus has changed its model naming system to the point that the numbers no longer bear any relation to reality. Previously this model was called the NX 200t, denoting it was an NX with the 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine. Now, however, it is the NX 300 because, I dunno – 100 more of nothing at all is better? Lexus says the change aligns with “the new Lexus naming convention for its 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine models,” which means it’s going to become just as confusing with any other models that use this engine too. However, while this name change may be pointless and confusing, it has given Lexus the chance to give the NX a bit of a refresh at the same time. On the outside, the Lexus signature “spindle” grille and the front bumper have been redesigned, the F Sport and Limited models get three low-beam LEDS and an individual LED for the adaptive high beam system and they also get sequential turn indicators. At the rear, the bumper has been broadened and the tail lights elongated to make the car look longer and wider, while there are also larger chrome exhaust tips integrated into the lower bumper. On the inside, the NX is every bit a Lexus, meaning that it is beautifully made from high quality materials and boasts a wonderfully modern and bold design. It is also beautifully and intuitively laid out, but cursed with one of the most frustrating infotainment interfaces invented by man. True, Lexus’ new touchpad-based system is nowhere near as annoying as the old joystick system, but it comes a close second with its abrupt jumps and overly sensitive touch controls (they can be reduced in the settings, but not by enough). Annoyingly, there is still no phone mirroring functionality (Android Auto, Apple Carplay or Mirrorlink), although the sound quality is still thoroughly excellent, which makes up for a lot. In terms of driving position and comfort, the NX is absolutely top notch as well. The driving position is nicely adjustable and getting it absolutely perfect is a surprisingly easy task, with the seats being absolutely superb in their armchair-like cossetting, while still offering excellent lateral support. As far as handling is concerned, the F Sport has been sharpened up with suspension revisions that improve steering turn-in and offer a new “custom” drive mode which allows you to mix and match powertrain, steering, air conditioning and suspension settings. The adaptable suspension now has continuously variable control, featuring 650 levels of damping, able to automatically adapt to changing conditions, or you can just stick to the pre-selected modes, which go all the way up to Sport+ in this model. Delightfully different looking and superbly comfortable, the NX 300 F-sport comes packed with standard equipment, but then it should do for its hefty asking price. The NX 300 F-sport retails for $94,800, which is rather eye-watering, but it is a deeply impressive package that is quick, frugal and impressively luxurious.