Safe and sound

Motoring | C Hung 22 Aug 2019

With an enhanced safety package, the upgraded 2020 Lexus NX series makes an effort to be more appealing to its largely conservative clientele.

The NX was once the smallest member in the Lexus SUV range when it was first unveiled in 2014. Now that recognition goes to the UX introduced early this year - although the latter is more of an urban crossover instead of a SUV.

The urban driving-oriented NX received a minor facelift early last year with modified front end and headlights. The upgraded version retains the appearance. Little was changed aesthetically, save for the two limited-edition black or blazing carnelian body colors.

What's new about this latest Lexus NX is the employment of the safety package called the Lexus Safety System+.

Similar to offerings from other more premium or safety minded brands, the Lexus Safety System+ is an umbrella package of several key safety and driver-assistance features - among which are the pre-collision system, the dynamic radar cruise control, the lane trace assist, the lane departure alert, the automatic high-beam and the adaptive high-beam system.

More interesting are the last two features, which make use of a camera mounted on the front side of the inner mirror to detect vehicles.

They serve distinct purposes: the automatic high-beam automatically switches the headlamps between high and low beams, increasing visibility in dark environment while the adaptive high-beam system automatically blocks certain headlamp areas to avoid causing distraction to drivers of oncoming traffic.

The mechanicals of the latest NX, including the two engine options, are unchanged.

The NX300 employs a two-liter turbocharged engine capable of producing 238ps and 350Nm, which is delivered to the front-driving wheels via an automatic continuously variable transmission.

Customers of the NX300 can select between three trim levels: the entry-level Superior (HK$459,900), the Ultimate (HK$489,500) and the F-Sport (HK$539,500) car reviewer William Chan test drove.

The latter two comes with the added comfort features such as the power rear gate with movement sensor and panoramic sunroof, while the F-Sport features sporty body-kits, two-tone leather sports seats, metal pedals and sports dampers.

The NX300h (HK$559,500) has a hybrid powertrain made up of the 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine coupled with an electric motor with a "combined system output" of 197ps. This powertrain's somehow lack of absolute power is more than made up by its exceptional fuel efficiency.

The car manufacturer claims that a liter of unleaded fuel can return 18.1 kilometers of driving, compared to 12.7 km for the NX300. Like before, the hybrid version comes only with the Ultimate trim.

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