Joel Helmes road tests and reviews the 2015 Lexus NX 200t.
Lexus has added a turbocharged petrol variant to its NX small SUV range and its known as the Lexus NX 200t.
I drove the hybrid version of the NX – the 300h in January and you can check out that full review here. In a nutshell, I had a couple of complaints, primarily the dull performance from the hybrid drivetrain and a somewhat nervous feel on the road.
Here, with a 2.0 litre turbocharged petrol engine in the 2015 Lexus NX 200t you get a much more significant 175kW and 350Nm and the difference is remarkable.
Where the hybrid versions 147kW/210Nm output left the Lexus NX SUV feeling flat and uninspired the turbo-petrol version is much more interesting and even easier to drive.
If you need to dash across an intersection or overtake then the petrol engine is up for the job, the hybrid though just doesn’t give that reassurance.
Perhaps a touch noisy when at work, the new 2.0 litre engine shows a bit of turbo-lag when the revs are down, though that 175kW soon gets things moving and quite well.
You can also choose between three different drive modes – Eco, Sport and Sport+. Even in Eco mode the Lexus SUV moves along swiftly.
Not surprisingly it uses more fuel than the hybrid, I averaged 10.7L/100kms in a week of city driving – the official claimed consumption rate is 7.9L/100kms, 2.2L/100kms above the NX 300h.
The six-speed automatic transmission in the NX 200t is smooth and responsive, though it can be VERY clunky when shifting from reverse to drive when the car is still moving (a common procedure when reverse parking or completing a U-turn).
Regarding the nervous and jittery feel observed in the Lexus NX 300h, I felt this version felt a lot more confident and enjoyable. I’m thinking the lack of the heavy hybrid battery pack makes a big difference.
The NX 200t was also the F Sport designation which comes with wider 235/55 series tyres on 18” alloys, that’s over the 225/60/18 tyres on the Luxury grade of the hybrid (as tested).
When it comes to pricing, the NX 200t starts from $52,500 and there’s a $2,500 price premium across the three model grades if you opt for the hybrid. Entry-level models with both drivetrains are front wheel drive, the balance being AWD.
My test car was also fitted with the optional Enhancement Pack 2 and this adds features such as a sunroof, premium Mark Levinson sound system and lane departure warning.
It also adds a head-up display that projects speed and other info onto the windscreen for the driver to see. Clear and very well executed the head-up display only comes with one downside – a large leather pod on the top of the instrument cluster.
For the record, tick the box for this enhancement pack and you’ll be paying your Lexus dealership an additional $9,000!
Aside from the optional pack the Lexus NX 200t comes well-stacked with standard features including dual-zone climate control, cameras front, side and rear (that work great), heated and ventilated front seats, electric seats (driver and passenger) and electronic tilt and reach steering adjustment.
Cruise control, sat-nav and an electric tail-gate help finish the package.
A five-star safety rating features across the entire Lexus NX range.
Summing it up; the 2015 Lexus NX 200t is streets ahead of the hybrid-powered NX 300h. Sure, it uses more fuel, but if you want a luxury small SUV then I don’t think for most people that’s going to be too much of a concern. It drives better, feels more stable and sure-footed and is a much more complete package than the hybrid.
The noticeable ‘clunk’ when moving into drive though is a concern – this is the first time I have experienced this new engine/transmission combo in a Toyota/Lexus vehicle and I hope it’s something that they can get sorted.
I gave the Lexus NX 300h a rating of 7/10, the NX 200t is significantly better and just about ticks all the boxes for a small, luxurious SUV and deserves a 9/10.
NUTS and BOLTS – 2015 Lexus NX 200t
Engine: 2.0 litre turbo-petrol producing 175kW and 350Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic (only)
Safety: Five stars
Price: From $52,500, F Sport from $63,500