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August 31, 2014

The Game Has Changed: Lexus Launches All-New NX

Lexus is finally getting into the highly-competitive premium compact crossover segment with the launch of the all-new NX. Following in the track of the GS and IS sedans, the NX marries Lexus’s bold, dramatic design with a platform engineered with the help of racers. Inside out, it’s a crossover truly inspired by performance vehicles.

From the outside, the NX features the boldest interpretation of the signature Lexus spindle grille and L-finesse design. The NX looks as if it was styled from a single piece of metal. Using the die of the spindle grille as a base, they poured molted steel over it to see how the shape would naturally form. The result inspired the NX’s angular, integral shape. The C-pillar is angled and wide to optimize internal storage width. In fact, four golf clubs can fit longitudinally across the cargo area instead of being wedged diagonally. The sharply raked tailgate and integrated spoiler are punctuated by L-shaped light clusters featuring seamless LED lighting while the tailgate itself echoes the front spindle grille design.

Going into the details, the NX is a product of stirring design. The light clusters are sights to behold. The headlamps use a two-color molding method giving the thick-walled lens a crystal glass-like appearance even when unlit. The same goes for the rear lamps. The door handles also reflect the fine attention to detail that has distinguished Lexus recently. There is no visible key hole, nor is there a gap between the handle and the cover (the design actually allows the key to be inserted behind the handle if necessary). The solid, soft feel and sound of the door closing comes courtesy of a special latch design and specially formulated rubber molding cushions.

Stepping into the Lexus NX feels like stepping into a sports car. The seats, featuring think bolsters and power adjustments, coddle the driver and front passenger as you’d come to expect from a Lexus. The cabin itself, with its leather-wrapped metal over high-contrast metallic elements provides visual depth and flair. The design combines structural elements with luxurious yet functional materials and textures. The center console is the undeniable focal point, echoing the exterior spindle grille. This bold silver-colored architectural element features kneepads on both sides.

The NX driver faces a sculpted metal-faced instrument cluster with a three-dimensional speedometer and tachometer that emphasize its intricate dial markings. Spin-processed faces for the main gauges and the analog clock create the impression of genuine metal. A 4.2-inch TFT LCD in the center of the instrument cluster provides full-color multi-information display. In the NX 300h, a hybrid indicator shows power output and regeneration in real time. The hybrid-specific dial changes to a tachometer when sport mode is engaged. Like other Lexus vehicles, switches are grouped for sensible, intuitive use and have a premium tactile feel.

The NX is a smartly packaged vehicle that offers plenty of room for both passenger and cargo. For passenger comfort, the distance between the front and rear hip points is a generous 962 millimeters while the high-roof design provides excellent headroom. At the back, aside from being able to swallow four golf bags, the NX features storage compartments beneath the cargo floor keeping valuables out of sight. Plus, instead of the more common pull shade-type cargo area cover, it comes with a folding tonneau board that eliminates the gaps at each side of the deck trim leaving a flush surface for an elegant appearance. The board is also removable and can be stored under the floor panel. The NX also offers the brand’s first power-folding 60/40 split-fold-reclining rear seat. The seats can be lowered or raised individually using switches on the instrument cluster, on the side of each rear seat and within the luggage compartment. The NX also has a power tailgate with memory height function.

Initially, Lexus is offering the NX in the Philippines in one guise: the NX 300h. The NX 300h uses a tuned version of the 2AR-FXE 2.5-liter gasoline engine. Enhancements made especially for the NX include a water-to-oil cooler for the electric drive motor and a revised front drive reduction ratio for improved fuel economy and hill climbing. This engine is mated to a new electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (CVT) with a kick-down function for greater acceleration performance.

Underneath, the NX 300h employs a unique AWD system called E-Four. The rear axle is driven by an electric motor while the front axle is propelled by gasoline or electric power, or a mixture of both. This sophisticated system varies power distribution to the rear wheels depending on driving and road conditions. Meanwhile, an electronically controlled braking system known as ECB-R provides stopping power and regenerative braking while saving on vehicle weight.

Thanks to the engineering team’s vast racing experience, the NX has nimble driving characteristics. Benchmarking the new IS sedan, the NX’s foundation in producing a sublime blend of handling agility and riding comfort is a highly rigid body structure.  The NX uses a MacPherson Strut front suspension with high-rigid components and low-friction moving parts. A newly designed trailing arm double wishbone rear suspension separates the coil springs and dampers to optimize agility, stability, and ride comfort while also providing an unusually low floor for a crossover. Specially reinforced suspension components help minimize the shake and shudder.

The all-new Lexus NX 300h is now available for viewing at the Lexus Manila showroom in Bonifacio Global City for a suggested retail price of P 3,908,000. The NX 300h will be joined by the more performance-oriented NX 200t and NX 200t F-Sport in January 2015.

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