Lexus cranks up craftsmanship level of NX crossover

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Lexus NX 1

THE Japanese call them takumi, meaning “artisan,” and the work of these people is evident in the refreshed version of the Lexus NX compact crossover.

According to Lexus Manila, which earlier this month unveiled the 2018 lineup of the NX, the latest rendition of the model boasts of the “skill and attention” to detail for which the takumi is known. Cited in particular by the company is the revised needlework marking the leather surfaces of the NX’s cabin furniture, which it said are “stitched perfectly straight.” It also noted that the “intricate pattern” adorning the leatherwork “can only be executed with the help of hand-operated machinery equipped with special needles that are resistant to overheating and thread breakage.”

“This is the essence of the takumi way,” said Takeaki Kato, chief engineer of the NX model. “Even if this can’t be immediately seen, an acute attention to details, such as the way the stitching of materials create a subtle pattern, can be felt spiritually to make a difference.”

Lexus NX 2
NX 300’s rear gets a bumper that matches the Spindle grille, longer tail lights and new exhaust tips.

In the Philippines, the NX is available as the NX 300 (formerly called NX 200t, which also comes in F-Sport trim) and the NX 300h hybrid. Lexus explained the NX 200t’s rechristening is the result of the brand having adopted turbochargers for other models as well, a move that will be seen on the rest of the Lexus range. The NX 300 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter, 235hp, 350Nm gasoline engine while the NX 300h’s hybrid drive train combines a 153hp, 210Nm, 2.5-liter engine with two electric motors that together spin out 194hp. Output from the conventional engine is harnessed by a six-speed automatic transmission while that coming from the hybrid is handled by a CVT. In either case, power reaches the tarmac via all four wheels.

Lexus admitted the NX’s performance is unchanged, but quickly noted that “significant improvements have been made to the vehicle’s suspension tuning to enhance ride and handling. The springs, stabilizer bars and bushings have been retuned for improved turn-in response and cornering, and new shock absorbers improve the quality of the NX’s ride, the company said. It added the model has also been fitted with the Adaptive Variable Suspension that’s also found in the LC 500, Lexus’s new grand touring coupe sensation. The system is designed to enhance control and stability.

Also changed in the latest NX300 (offered in F-Sport and trim, is the car’s exterior styling. New are Lexus’s signature spindle grille, which grew even larger while gaining some satin bits, front bumpers, and head lamps that now have three projectors each. The rear of the NX also received an updated bumper treatment that borrows elements from the spindle grille, as well as longer tail lights that have a tweaked black garnish. Reshaped chrome exhaust tips peek out of the bumper’s spoiler.

Lexus NX interior
Cabin boasts of revised needlework for the leather surfaces, and a larger touch screen panel.

“The new NX still possesses the same elements that have made it popular in the past — a sharp design, everyday convenience and driving pleasure that will satisfy all enthusiasts — but the vehicle as a whole has evolved dramatically,” Mr. Kato said.

In the cabin of the F-Sport and hybrid variants is a touch screen display panel that grew from seven inches to 10.3 inches. Nearly all the controls and switches, including the drive mode selector, shift knob and door handles, now have a metallic satin finish (the update cuts across all variants). On the center console, the remote touch interface pad and palm rest have been redesigned for easier operation. The wireless charger tray is also bigger this time so it could accommodate larger smart phones. Plus, the USB ports have increased amperage for faster charging, and the analog clock can now automatically adjust the time, thanks to a satellite link.

Another convenience feature not found in the previous NXs is the sensor that operates the rear hatch — the thing allows for hands-free opening.

Prices for the NX300 range between P2.998 million and P4.098 million.