From £30,2145
Sporting, turbocharged petrol variant of the Lexus NX has style, pace and a premium cabin, but isn't much fun

Our Verdict

Lexus NX

The hybrid-only mid-sized Lexus NX is challenging the likes of the new Volvo XC60, Range Rover Velar and Audi Q5 among others, but is it up to the task?

What is it?

It's a Marmite segment, the sports-SUV class, but whether you love it or hate it, it's increasingly popular, and Lexus wants a slice of the action with its NX200t.

Complete with a new turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol motor and six-speed torque converter automatic transmission, it's almost two seconds faster to 60mph than the hybrid NX 300h model, but it's also more expensive.

Only available in chrome-bedecked, lavishly-equipped F Sport trim, the 200t costs just over £38,000, which seems remarkably expensive until you consider that a Range Rover Evoque Si4 costs more than £46,000 and a base, four-cylinder Porsche Macan (which we haven't driven yet) won't come with half as much kit but will costs more than £40,000. So you can see what Lexus is trying to achieve here. 

What's it like?

It's really not bad to drive provided you just want a fairly fast SUV and not a fun SUV. The engine is quiet at low revs, while the auto 'box slurs through its changes slowly but smoothly and in normal driving is generally in the right ratio and does what you expect it to.

This, added to progressive throttle and brake response and fairly meaty, predictable steering, makes smooth driving really easy.

Drive with some attitude, though, and it all falls apart. Swing briskly into a corner and you wouldn't really know that the four-wheel drive system is - apparently - sending up to 50% of the drive to the rear axle rather than just to the front.

The NX understeers with gusto, just as if it were front-wheel drive only (which it is in steady-state driving), until you back off the throttle in order to point the nose back in the direction you initially hoped it would be heading.

There's little adjustability or playfulness, and while that steering weight and response is fine in everyday pottering, a string and a cup offers about the same sense of connection. 

Added to this the fact that the engine feels strained and sounds unpleasantly whiney at high revs and that the gearbox struggles to respond promptly in fast driving, it's quickly apparent that the sports element of the NX is really only skin deep.

The ride doesn't help, either. It amplifies high-frequency bumps and ruts, so you get a constant fidget over coarse surfaces and thumps over expansion joints and the like; it's not overly harsh, but it rarely settles. The £750 optional adaptive dampers that weren't fitted to our test car may well improve matters. 

But for its straightforward rev counter, the interior of the NX200t is the same as that of the F Sport version of the NX300h, which means you get a great driving position with electric adjustment and plenty of support from the seat.

There's also adequate space for two adults in the back, a decent-sized boot and a real sense of quality to the cabin, although the layout and some of the materials - including what appears to be starched eggbox cardboard around the steering-wheel audio controls - feel overly fussy.

While you do get plenty of luxury kit included, such as keyless go, front and rear parking sensors and heated seats, adding sat-nav will cost you £995 if you're happy with a rotary-controlled affair. The touch-sensitive pad and nav system shown here is a more expensive £1995 option that also brings extra speakers. 

Should I buy one?

You could argue that the NX is unjustifiable as a performance choice thanks to the non-SUV alternatives - Volkswagen Golf R anyone? - that offer a whole other level of performance, entertainment and similar everyday space and practicality for vastly less money. But, clearly, that's comparing apples with oranges, so if you want a top-end, fast SUV, the Lexus looks great and is even reasonably priced next to some rivals.

It's just not enough, though. The Lexus NX200t isn't fun enough to justify the 'sports' tag, and there are better-value fast 4x4s, including the Audi Q3 2.0 TFSI 184, which is a mite slower but also many thousands of pounds cheaper.

Alternatively, if you can afford circa £40,000 for the NX (which it will be after you've added sat-nav), you can probably stretch to £44 for a basic Porsche Macan S, or even an Audi SQ5, which might be a diesel, but it sounds better, is much faster, more fun and comes with everything you could want included.

At least the hybrid NX300h is an impressively cheap company car, but this turbo petrol 200t - good looks aside - is unexceptional in any area. 

Lexus NX200t 

Location Surrey; On sale Now; Price £38,095; Engine 4 cyls, 1988cc, turbo, petrol; Power 235bhp at 4800-5600rpm; Torque 258lb ft at 1650rpm; Gearbox 6-spd automatic; Kerb weight 1735kg; Top speed 124mph; 0-62mph 7.1sec; Economy 35.8mpg; CO2/tax band 183g/km, 29%

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Comments
12

11 March 2015
put this in the IS - in my opinion it needs it - while your at it will it go in the GS as well?

Will this take the v6 spot in the rabge in the gs & is.

11 March 2015
Forester XT much better, apart perhaps from the way it looks, and very considerably cheaper

11 March 2015
You write: "At least the hybrid NX300h is an impressively cheap company car, but this turbo petrol 200t - good looks aside - is unexceptional in any area. " That makes no sense. Perhaps you meant to type "isn't exceptional in any area"? Or "is unexceptional in all areas"?

11 March 2015
What good looks? This is one hideously ugly thing, desperately shouting to get attention.

11 March 2015
Do many cars called an SUV justify the sport tag? Can any car which is heavy and\or tall justify the sports tag? I wouldnt consider am x6M sporty. fast yes, but sporty?
This engine will replace the v6 in the IS. And with those figures could be pretty quick too.
Its another clasic Lexus review though isnt it. Summary : Drive it like no one actually will and its not too good in some areas. Drive it normally and it is.

11 March 2015
Sport SUV?! what an oxymoron unless it is a Macan Turbo or AMG Merc or possibly M BMW,though that is arguable.
I stil despise the "SUV" this is an ugly thing,just buy a Rav-4 if you want some Toyota quality??

Madmac

11 March 2015
But not far off. Do yourself a favour and do a Google Images search for Pontiac Aztek. Wow... The surfacing on the Lexus is almost as bad in its own 2015 way. There's a nice shape trying to get out here but they seem to have gone mad with a ruler and a scalpel at the last minute. A shocking piece of styling.

11 March 2015
It looks like a prop from a science fiction movie, and not in a good way, IMHO. I suppose it looks distinctive, at least. However, in the profile shot, the wheelbase looks way too short: just look at the front overhang and how shallow the approach angle is. I know these will never be driven off-road, but I can think of a couple of multi-storey car park ramps I might think twice about attempting if driving this. If I were in the market for something like this, I spend a bit more, forego the trinkets and buy a Macan instead.

11 March 2015
shame it doesn't have a comfortable ride. I saw one parked up and wanted one badly! it looks so good. It seems apart from the flagship Ls, other models in the range aren't up to snuff. At least they look good now!

11 March 2015
Lexus were so promising when they launched the LS400. But it's been downhill ever since. Now they're all hideously ugly and rubbish to drive. At least if they were super quiet and had a soft ride there'd be some reason to consider them but they're not even that any more. Why would you buy one?

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