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?
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The Lexus NX is the Japanese company"s antidote to formulaic European design, face-lifted for a second time since its launch in 2014.
Sitting a rung below the BMW X5-rivalling RX, the NX has been a big seller for this relatively under-represented brand, accounting for almost a third of its European sales and in 2017 outselling the CT200h luxo-hatch at a ratio of three to one. A large part of its appeal has always been the acute, concept-car-esque geometry of its bodywork.
For 2018 the changes are subtle but prolong the impact of the head-turning looks that make it almost a caricature next to the more restrained likes of the Volvo XC60, Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLC. The gaping spindle grille is now more aggressive, and flanked by more deeply recessed air intakes. The bumpers have also been finessed and the LED headlights are not only sleeker in design but now incorporate Lexus’s Adaptive High-beam System. The indicators now illuminate in a ‘sequential’ fashion, in the style first seen on expensive Audis.
Lexus has also given the NX its Safety System Plus technology, which compromises a pre-collision warning and emergency braking system, adaptive cruise control, adaptive high-beam headlights (that is, headlights capable of selectively illuminating the road ahead in such a way that other drivers aren’t constantly dazzled), lane-departure warning and road-sign assist. The last of those reiterates speed limits and such on the infotainment display.