2022 Lexus NX 350 F Sport Review : Add a little glug of fun
Singapore - When Lexus launched their second generation NX SUV last year, there was just one (two variant) model available, the NX 350h. Now the range has been completed with the NX 450+, which is their very first PHEV, and this… the only full ICE variant, the Lexus NX 350 F Sport.
When we first got hold of their new SUV, we actually thought that it was an extensively facelifted version of the previous NX; since it has many of the same styling cues seen on the older car. In actual fact, the all-new NX is built on the group’s GA-K Global Architecture, which also underpins the Toyota RAV4 which we recently went for a drive in
So while the angular styling and signature spindle grille is retained, Lexus has pumped their styling juices a little more. This time round, the NX has a more refined look, and a stronger presence. Lexus designers have tamed the door panels, and have included way less fussy headlamps. While the rear styling of the previous NX made the car look smaller than it really was; the new car has bolder, pushed-out L-shaped LED lamps, which are bridged by a light strip.
The F Sport kit adds a black frame around the grille, and a silver lip to the base of the front bumper. You also get a set of blacked-out 20-inch rims, framed in body-coloured fender guards.
2022 Lexus NX 350 F Sport - inside
The interior is a notably huge improvement over the previous car. Once inside, you can quickly tell that quality is just about everywhere you look. Little touches, like the compartment on the centre console, which opens both ways, tells of the effort Lexus would put into a vehicle. What can I say? Perhaps the Digital E-Latch door switches are a bit of an overkill.
The new Tazuna Concept of the dashboard, first introduced by Lexus in their LF-30 Electrified concept in 2019, leans on the idea that the cockpit should be human-centred. A good example of this is the Touch Tracing Operation, which lets you keep your eyes on the road. While using the touch sensor switches on the steering wheel, calls up a simplified menu on the HUD.
Lexus has taken serious strides too with its infotainment unit. It now is voice activated, responding to the activation phrase “Hey Lexus”. While it is not anything close to the Operating Systems 7 and 8 found on BMWs, it is still pretty good. The infotainment system is fronted by a massive 14-inch touchscreen, which easily eclipses even the facelifted BMW X3’s 12.3-inch unit (the latter already eclipses both the Mercedes-Benz GLC’s 10.25-inch and the Audi Q5’s 10.1-inch screens). To keep your mobile device juiced up, there are both USB-C and USB-A ports available at the base of the dash, and also an all-important charging pad. While Apple CarPlay is offered wireless, Android users will unfortunately have to still make do with a cable.
On longer drives, I appreciate that both front seats are ventilated. And though the air-conditioning controls are mostly virtual buttons, they are not buried within the interface. Rear passengers have sufficient leg and headroom, and headroom is more-than sufficient for the average adult passenger.
2022 Lexus NX 350 F Sport - the drive
Under the bonnet, the NX 350 F Sport gets a 2.4 litre turbocharged inline-four, good for 275hp and 430Nm. This is put to all four wheels via an 8-speed Direct Shift transmission, which I would prefer over a CVT, since the word “Sport” is in this Lexus’ last name.
While the NX 350 F Sport clocks 100km/h in a more-than-respectable 7 seconds, what is more important, is how it delivers its day-to-day drive. There is a hard-to-match smoothness here, which the transmission delivers. Lower your right foot, and the engine happily obliges, accompanied by some manufactured engine noise through the speakers. The Direct Shift 8-speed slips less than some other gearboxes, allowing engine torque to reach the wheels quicker.
I also like that the gearbox is also able to skip a few gears in a go when kicking down, which means that the SUV responds very quickly, to a heavy right foot. But the performance it delivers comes at a price. Lexus says that it does 8.1L/100km, but we nailed 9.9L/100km, so you may think twice before downing that right pedal.
While all is good going in straight lines, the NX 350 F Sport is not built to handle with the same sharpness as the BMW X3. The AWD system feels more front-biased to neutral; and even in Sport+ drive mode (interesting right? It actually has one), the suspension is still pliant enough to not rattle your teeth out. While I say this, The Lexus SUV still knows how to carve a corner well enough to put a smile on your face.
But on most normal days, where driving is a more relaxed pleasure, this is where the Lexus-ness of it all comes together. The NX 350’s driving refinement, is equally matched by how the lovely interior almost coddles you.
And if coddling is what you yearn for, the Lexus NX 350 F Sport does very well in what Lexussesses do best.
PHOTOS Clifford Chow and Jay Tee
2022 Lexus NX 350 F Sport
Engine 2393cc, inline-4 Turbo
0-100 km/h 7 seconds
Top Speed 200 km/h.
Fuel Consumption 8.1L/100 km