Lexus NX200t F Sport first drive review

Lexus NX200t F Sport first drive review

The Japanese company’s new BMW X3 rival has plenty going for it, but frustratingly it looks better than it drives

The new Lexus NX is that rare, maybe even unique thing: a production car that looks better than the concept that inspired it.The new NX was born out of last September’s LF-NX concept, a BMW X3-sized compact SUV that looked like Edward Scissorhands had led the exterior design team.Pretty it was not, but no one questioned the idea of Lexus making a premium compact SUV. After all, Toyota’s luxury arm is still looking to gain real traction in Europe after more than two decades of competing against increasingly bigger and stronger German opposition. Indeed, if the NX ticks enough boxes, it could even prove a breakthrough model for the firm, such is the growing size and significance of compact SUVs in the premium market. Lexus already expects it to add a third to its European sales and become its best-selling model in Europe.The handsome – yet still striking – production car we’re testing for the first time here thankfully does without Scissorhands’s input. Lexus says the concept car still inspired the look of the final NX, an edgy, eye-catching design that manages to be anything but conservative while still retaining everyman appeal. Not just another German bland box, in other words, and a notable achievement from a car loosely derived from the hardly inspiring-looking Toyota RAV4.The pleasing styling is not the only headline in the new NX, for the new SUV gets the first airing of Lexus’s new turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine as one of two powertrain options, an efficient petrol-electric hybrid being the other choice and likely best seller in the continued absence of diesel from Lexus’s range.The NX300h hybrid comes with standard front- or optional four-wheel drive and reaches the UK from October priced from £29,495. The NX200t petrol model due next March is exclusively available in four-wheel drive and F Sport trim. It will cost around £35,000 and it’s this model we’ll deal with in detail here.

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