The 2018 Lexus NX 300 AWD F-Sport comes at a price premium above most other medium SUVs, so the question we need to answer is whether it’s worth paying the extra to get into the Lexus.
Straight off the bat though you can see and feel that the Lexus an ambience that requires respect.
The vehicle is also fitted with an array of special features and technology.
From the front, the NX 300 has that now familiar Lexus look, with a strong grille especially below the bumper line.
There are the side lights in the shape of the Nike Swoosh.
With black guard panels over the wheels, 18” rims and a waist line crease down the side that has a slight, flowing wave pattern they have clearly given an effort to detail.
The distinctive sloping rear window, more Nike style rear lights and a faint crease line below the roof, adds to the fastback look.
From the side it is far more sports wagon than plain but functional SUV wagon.
The boldness extends, to some extent, with the nine exterior colour options.
Two of the four interior colour options have bright highlighted inserts, either Tuscan Sun or Flare Red.
The other colour inserts are white or black and Naguri-style aluminium is present in all options.
The centre dash has controls in several layers that are designed like an up-market apartment block where each subsequent level is set back from the one below it.
A large 10.3” screen protrudes from the top of the centre dash and with a hint of refinement, there is an analogue clock.
The large screen is much wider than it is tall but can still present detailed information, such the sat-nav map and the directions.
The system has SUNA Live Traffic Alerts as well.
There’s plenty of accented leather trim and all models have heated seats.
Dash/dials are fairly easy to read although the centre 4.2″ Colour Multi Information Display is a bit cluttered.
The Head Up Display can show various information including vehicle speed, lane keep assist tachometer, navigation instructions, audio and cruise control and tachometer. I liked it.
The seats hold your firmly and a 10-speaker audio system is standard across the NX range.
A Mark Levinson surround sound system is an optional upgrade.
The F-Sport has extra features such as ventilated front seats, wireless phone charger and driver’s seat memory.
A Panoramic View Monitor displays birds-eye images from cameras mounted on the front, sides and rear of the vehicle.
While the second row of seats do fold down with a 60/40 split, they do not fold quite flat.
This is one area where other mid-size SUVs, including the Honda CR-V, have a better system.
An electronic automatic opening tailgate is standard across the range with 500 litre cargo storage with the rear seats up and 1,545 litres with the seats down.
Lexus says the boot can hold “four 9.5-inch golf bags, or two suitcases (77cm x 2)”.
Apart from mixing the measurement units, I presume the 9.5” golf bag refers to the diameter otherwise its only good for the four-year old’s plastic golf set.
This grade of Lexus NX comes standard with:
- Power adjustable steering (tilt and telescopic)
- Dual-zone climate control
- Front, side and rear cameras
- Autonomous Emergency Braking
- Front and rear parking sensors
- DVD player
- Electric front seat adjustment
- Adaptive cruise control
- Powered tailgate
Drive and Engine
The NX 300 F-Sport is available in two-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations.
There are two engines on offer – a 175kW/350Nm two-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, or 147kW petrol/electric hybrid.
The conventional engine is mated to a conventional six-speed auto transmission, the hybrid gets a CVT.
The AWD models have a Dynamic Torque Control system automatically adjusting the front/rear differential torque split to suit the prevailing conditions.
I find Lexus vehicles are particularly well suited for touring. The smaller vehicles don’t necessary give you a huge punch in the back, but they get along quite nicely.
The NX F-Sport fits this description.
It held the road, coped with bumps and enjoyed the sweeping bends with enough power for overtaking on rural roads.
You can select eco, standard and performance-oriented drive modes which can now be programmed to remember drive mode, chassis and air-conditioning settings.
And the engine note sounds pretty good.
The suspension has been improved in this 2018 model with the F-Sport and Sports Luxury having Adaptive Variable Suspension to provide greater continuous damping adjustment over varying surfaces.
Don’t think of this as an SUV or an off-roader. It is an SUV sports wagon made for the bitumen.
The fuel consumption for our F-Sport AWD is rated at 7.9L/100km and for the 2WD you only gain 0.2L/100km.
By comparison the AWD hybrid rates at 5.7L/100km and you gain only 0.1L100km if you go for the 2WD.
It is pleasing to see that all the safety features offered in the Lexus Safety System+ are standard across the range.
The package includes pre-collision warning and autonomous emergency braking, radar cruise control, lane keep assist and rear cross traffic alert.
The Lexus is rated with a towing capacity as 1,000kg with a braked trailer although it seems an academic figure.
It’s hard to see owners with a trailer full of rubbish going to the tip or a camper trailer on the back.
I would take the car on graded dirt roads but not much rougher.
- Very quiet, comfortable ride (as you would expect)
- Hybrid Option
- Does nothing wrong
Not So Good Bits
- Archaic cruise control stalk left over from the old Toyota days – why isn’t it just buttons on the steering while like everyone else?
- Lane-keep and adaptive cruise was hit and miss
- Seating not as flexible as others in the class
- Space saver spare
Starting at $54,800 adding on road costs and a colour and trim cost of $1,500 that seems to be an additional cost you cannot avoid, will mean it to get on the road is around $62,000.
The cost to step up to a four-wheel drive system is $4,500 while the additional cost to go to a hybrid powertrain is $2,500 which I think is surprisingly low.
The NX 300, which is the bestselling model for Lexus, has been improved significantly.
It has a stand out design and a comfortable, competent driving experience.
With more standard features including safety technology, it is a credible car in the prestige category.
Facts and Figures: 2018 Lexus NX 300 F-Sport
- Engine: 2.0 litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol producing 175kW/350Nm or 147kW hybrid
- Transmission: Six-speed manual (petrol), or CVT auto (hybrid)
- Safety: Five stars
- Warranty: 4yrs/100,000km
- Origin: Japan
- Price: from $60,800