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Lexus NX review: Mid-life crisis

The sequel to Lexus' compact SUV looks sharper, but lacks sharpness.

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Lexus engineers worked on the car's suspension and sound insulation to sharpen up its handling and cut down on noise, vibration and harshness.

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Singapore

THERE'S no shame in going for cosmetic surgery once you hit mid-life. Cars do it all the time, which is why, a little sooner than four years after its debut, the Lexus NX has gone under the knife.

The headlights, grille and front bumper have all been redesigned, with the aim of making the car look more sporty and aggressive.

If you could tell that the NX has been facelifted, though, you deserve a prize. Alas, it would be a prize for being the biggest Lexus nerd on Earth, because otherwise you would never have perceived the changes, subtle as they are.

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The car has undergone something of a butt-lift, too, which is easier to spot.

The tail lamps have been elongated, making the rear end look wider, and the tailgate has a new bulge with sharply defined lines. It helps to give the NX a well-toned look, as if it's spent countless hours doing squats in the gym.

Things are also new inside, where the dashboard has been dolled up with new, simpler switches, and a larger infotainment display with a bigger touchpad to control it. Because smartphones have grown, so has the wireless charging pad for them in the NX.

Lexus says its engineers have worked on the car's suspension and sound insulation to sharpen up its handling and cut down on noise, vibration and harshness, respectively.

Be that as it may, the NX 300 (which used to be called the NX 200t) is surprisingly noisy for a Lexus. The 2.0-litre turbo engine is pretty vocal about working hard, which doesn't suit the character of the car.

The hot-looking F-Sport version comes with a deliciously racy two-tone interior, but it rides on firmer suspension, which is also a poor match for the intrinsic nature of the NX.

It's jittery over small road imperfections without being particularly sharp around corners, and it runs out of grip fairly early.

The Luxury version, or better yet, the petrol-electric NX 300h model, would be truer to the car's badge. Even the Toyota Harrier, a sister car, is more refined and feels more like a Lexus than the NX 300 F-Sport does.

Yet, the NX should worry more about outsiders than siblings. Newer models such as the Mercedes-Benz GLC, Volvo XC40, BMW X3 or Jaguar E-Pace are all a reminder that while a facelift can mask the passage of time, it often does little to help you fend off younger rivals.


LEXUS NX 300 F-SPORT

Engine 1,998cc, 16V, inline 4, turbocharged
Power 238hp at 4,800-5,600rpm
Torque 350Nm at 1,650-4,000rpm
Gearbox 6-speed automatic
Top Speed 200km/h
0-100km/h 7.1 seconds
Fuel efficiency 7.9l/100km
Price S$233,800 with COE
Agent Borneo Motors
Available Now