2015 Lexus NX200t F Sport Review
The all-new Lexus NX is one of the best-looking new crossovers in the segment, and we've been big fans of its edgy and cool design since it was first shown as a concept last year.
As the sportiest F Sport turbo model arrived for a week-long test, the excitement was writ large across my face. The F Sport styling upgrade makes the NX feel like a year 2020 concept sketch. Its hypercar creases across the entire bodyside of the truck makes this the most advanced, futuristic SUV ever made --- yet it is available today with pricing from $35,000!?
Is the beauty of the NX more than skin-deep? Does it drive with BMW X3-beating poise on hard throttle, or does it fall to pieces at the sight of the first corner?
Read on for the answer! Standard headings of Exterior, Interior, Performance and Pricing are augmented by two HD drive videos, an animated colorizer and 200 gorgeous photos of the NX around Charleston, South Carolina.
HD DRIVE REVIEW VIDEO
The Lexus NX F Sport has visual appeal unlike any other mid-size crossover to come out this year. The low, lean style is like a giant rally car from many angles, with a pinched windowline and raked rear glass steeper than anything this side of the old Audi A6 Avant from the 1990s.
The windshield is also quite raked-back, leaving the rest of the NX design in a great position to feel as sporty as the BMW X4 and X6.
It would have been easy for Lexus to phone in the rest of the details, but they went the other way: designing outrageous creases, edges and ridges into the integrated fender flares and 3D beltline. Just look at that wild crease flowing out along the door-handles! You can see it all from the rear-view mirrors, where the spaceship feel of the rear fenders really comes to life.
The incredibly deep panel stampings on this NX are at least a half-foot deep - yet the car is extremely beautiful and well-resolved. There is a cohesive feel to the design overall; it gels together fantastically well.
The F Sport is totally unique from the base NX200t and NX300h in the nose: where the Hybrid is extra pointy in profile, the F Sport has a deep lower splitter in contrast-silver. The front overhand is slightly long versus the BMW X3, yet far tighter than the Audi Q5 and Mercedes GLA250.
From the pure front angle, the NX200t F Sport is extremely sexy and aggressive. The giant spindle grille is rimmed in chrome for only the top half of the design. The lower edge flows nicely into that splitter and integrated vertical vents on the edges of the face.
LED LIGHTING EXEMPLAR
All other cars should take a lesson from the new NX's LED lighting. Even without the optional triple-LED low and high-beams, the NX200t F Sport is one of the coolest night-time rides available at any price. HID low-beam projectors pair with LED foglamps and the free-standing LED arrowhead DRLs in a bright white.
Flip the turn signals on, and those white LED arrows do not go off -- the LED slash of bright amber is right atop these white LEDs. No switchback weirdness here, just fantastic future-tech -- executed brilliantly.
L-shaped swooshes in the tail are solid bands of LED light - looking very, very cool and ultra-modern at all times.
OPTION LIST MUST-HAVE?
The incredibly striking and unique LED triple low and highbeams make this LED exemplar even sweeter. Plus the big glass roof and heated/vented seats. All good things.
NX200t Premium Package $2,890
- Expansive moonroof
- Heated and ventilated front seats
- Enhanced LED daytime running lights (DRL) with integrated turn indicators
Inside the NX200t F Sport, things feel 'just-right' from first sitting. The power seats adjust to a fantastic and low-slung base height, and the steering wheel has rake and reach adjustments to get into an RC-F level of lowness from behind the wheel. You instantly feel cool and comfortable in these firm yet enveloping leather seats. A unique F Sport design for the leather stitching is cool, as is the dark headliner and the thick-rimmed steering wheel. Metallic shift paddles behind the wheel set the tone for hard driving. A drive control knob lets you choose Sport or Eco in addition to the normal modes.
Sport is our preference, with is eager throttle and transmission kickdowns and slightly firmer brake and steering feel.
The NX feels wide inside, with really solid visibility from up front -- despite that sexy roofline and small glasshouse.
A low dashboard helps the cabin feel airy and spacious, and the multi-layered design of the console and center stack all feels premium, advanced and modern. The Lexus synaptic touch-control lets you control the nav system via just a finger - with precise inputs. It snaps to the option choices you have on screen, so the pointer is never lost on screen. Operates easily even while driving, with a double-tap to select confirmed by a zing of feeling in the touch-panel.
Climate controls and audio settings offer duplicate controls in the form of buttons below the main screen -- making it the best of all worlds.
We loved the perfect driving position and metal pedals of the F Sport package, along with huge and comfy arm-rests at level height in the doors and center console.
If there is one curious element, it is the exposed screw-head in the side of the console. It is not scratchy on your fore-arm, but does seem out-of-place considering the quality everywhere else.
The second row of seats is remarkably roomy, wide and full of legroom. The seat is set well back into the wheelbase, giving great premiumness to the space available. The roofline is pretty low for ingress and egress, along with a fast-angled C-pillar. A slightly small door opening but excellent room once inside.
Another excellent mix of roominess and utility back here. A full-length hard cover for the luggage area lifts open with the hatch, or can be unsnapped and stowed in a custom bin below the trunk floor. The roominess in the cargo area is slightly tighter than many SUVs, but that is the trade-off for the big back seat and sporty roofline.
When more cargo room is needed, the second row folds flat. No need to remove the headrests, either. Just pull the handles and load up!
The performance of the F Sport NX200t is where you really fall in love. Sure, tech and style are great -- but what about handling and fun behind the wheel?
If the NX300h is a cushy cruiser, the NX200t F Sport is the track-day plaything of the group. It really is!
Low center of gravity and a low seating position mean the F Sport is ready to be hurled hard into corners, on-ramps and twisty roads. Almost perfect suspension tuning is grippy and firm, yet calm and fairly supple over most bumps.
The steering feel is best-in-class among front-drive crossovers, and the turbo engine pulls hard from all rev points. The six-speed automatic is a willing partner in hard driving, zinging the turbo to its low redline with glee.
A sprint time to 60-mph of 7.2-seconds feels faster in the cabin than it sounds on paper. Grip is plentiful in the dry, but we'd recommend the available AWD for anyone who wants to drive hard. Check out the launch video below to see it in action.
Overall, the handling balance and precise chassis of the NX200t are far sportier and more entertaining than you might think. A genuinely fun crossover to drive fast.
We have a full colors guide over at the below link, but here is a sneak preview of the shades here. Ultrasonic blue is an F Sport exclusive.
2015 Lexus NX200t F Sport COLORS
Ultrasonic Blue Mica
2015 Lexus NX200t F Sport WHEELS
The NX200t is priced from about $35,000, with the F Sport from about $37,000 and the NX300h Hybrid from about $39,000. With every available option on the NX200t F Sport, the price tops out around $44,000.
NX300h vs NX200t
They both have a similar sporty feel from the drivers seat, to be honest, but the NX300h is just not as quick on full throttle as the turbo. It is also much more mature in its nose design. Sharing a look with the base NX200t, the NX300h has a horizontal gloss grey grille and streamlined pointer nose. The NX300h has blue-tinted Lexus and Hybrid badges to tell it apart from the base NX200t, which starts from $35,000.
The look of the NX300h nose gels well with the overall angularity of the design, even in profile, but is not as cool as the deep chin spoiler and spindle grille of the mid-range F Sport option.
Can you tell yet that we adore the Lexus NX?
It is so good, we can imagine buying one ourselves. That is a huge vote of confidence.
The fantastic blend of cool style, cutting-edge technology and incredible handling is a rare achivement for any crossover. As a Lexus, it also has great rolling refinement and the comfort to chill on a long road trip or tiring commute.
The NX feels perfectly sized, priced and equipped. Our one wish is for more straight-line speed, where the NX is down about two seconds in the 60-mph sprint versus the BMW X3 xDrive35i.
But the turbo powerplant means an ECU upgrade is possible to bump the stock horsepower from 235 to a more-potent 265HP or so. Aside from the slight lack of major sprint pace, the 2015 Lexus NX is almost the perfect luxury crossover.
Perfect for you too? Take a quick drive -- you will be as smitten as we were within the first mile!
Check out the NX colors and options over at Lexus.com.