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2015 Lexus NX 200t F Sport, 300h First Test

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 9/29/2014 Jonny Lieberman, Motor Trend Staff
2015 Lexus NX 200t F Sport, 300h First Test

The goal of every marketing person is having the right product on sale at the right time. Think back a couple of years. If only there was something smaller and lighter than a laptop but still large enough to watch movies and read books on Meet the iPad! In the car world, the hottest segments right now are the ones featuring small SUVs/crossovers. This is especially true in the luxury market, where not only are sales red-hot but the vehicles are much more profitable. Let me re-emphasize the fact that this segment is poker-in-the-fire hot. Lexus has already revised its initial sales estimate of the new NX from 35,000 to 40,000, and the thing's not even on sale for another two months. Keep in mind that the Lexus RX is selling in huge enough numbers that it's (still) the best-selling luxury product in the country. Yes, with more than 100,000 sales annually, the RX outsells the BMW 3 Series. But should Lexus be fiddling with the NX numbers so early on? In other words, is it going to sell as many as it thinks?

Speaking of fiddling and numbers, we got the chance to beat up on both the NX 300h (hybrid) and the NX 200t F Sport (turbo) at our test track. My big takeaway? They're both heavy. And weirdly, the 200t weighs a little more than the 300h, even with all of the latter's batteries and extra motors. Things get even weirder. Lexus claims that although the NX and the Toyota RAV4 share a few basic things (wheelbase, suspension mounting points, speaker holes), the NX is 90 percent different. You know what? I totally believe Lexus. Reason being that the last RAV4 we tested weighed in at 3423 pounds. The NX 200t F Sport? 4175 pounds. That's more than 750 pounds! What? How? Where? Why? Now, of course, the RAV4 we tested was FWD and had a 2.5-liter I-4. The 200t has a 2.0-liter turbo I-4 and AWD, but, I'm sorry, there's no way an extra driveshaft, two half shafts, plus a turbo and some plumbing clocks in at 750 pounds. Leather? Sound-deadening material? Lead? All are possibilities. For those wondering, the 300h weighs 4123 pounds.

MotorTend Image© Provided by MotorTrend MotorTend Image All that said, as AMG bossman Tobias Moers is fond of saying about weight, "Don't overestimate it." Meaning that heavyweights are just as capable of racking up sales as featherweights. Probably more so. Remember, the best-selling AMG product in America is the G63. The mass majority of consumers simply don't care how fat their car is. They might not even care about performance numbers. At least Lexus is hedging its small-luxury-SUV bet that way. For example, the NX 200t F Sport hits 60 mph in 7 seconds flat. You can't call that quick. But then again, the Audi Q5 with a 2.0-liter turbo I-4 takes 7 seconds flat, too. And believe you me, the good looking, fast selling Audi is the crossover the NX is going after. I should point out that the Q5 TDI hits 60 mph in 5.7 seconds, while the 300h (the high mpg NX) does so in 8.3 seconds. That's half a second behind a Chevy Volt. Also, because if you're shopping for a Q5 or an NX you've probably at least glanced at the BMW website, the X3 xDrive28i (the one with the 2.0-liter turbo I-4) hits 60 mph in 6.1 seconds.

Getting back to the NX 200t F Sport, it runs down the quarter mile in 15.3 seconds at 90.7 mph, stops from 60 mph in 116 feet, and goes around our figure-eight track in 27.2 seconds, with a max grip level of 0.79 g. Meanwhile, the 300h eclipses the quarter mile in 16.3 seconds at 83.5 mph and stops from 60 mph in 115 feet. The little hybrid goes around the figure eight in 27.8 seconds -- that's bordering on full-size truck territory -- though its max lateral grip is 0.80 g.

Here's the big takeaway: While not an athlete, the NX is still a pretty groovy little trucklette, never mind the hybrid version that will only account for 10 percent of total sales. Going up against the Q5, the NX is a little less expensive and, of course, comes with that unbeatable Lexus reputation for longevity -- something that Audi simply doesn't have. The looks of the Lexus are absolutely polarizing, but that only means half the people will love it. Combine the above with a luxurious, high-tech cockpit and I think Lexus will be doing even more numbers-fiddling than it already has. Do you disagree? Put another way, would you bet against the NX? Not me, man. Not me.

MotorTend Image© Provided by MotorTrend MotorTend Image

2015 Lexus NX200t F Sport 2015 Lexus NX 300h
BASE PRICE $37,000$41,000
PRICE AS TESTED $46,000 (est)$45,000 (est)
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUVFront-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 2.0L/235-hp/258-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-42.5L/154-hp/152-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4 plus 141-hp front and 67-hp rear electric motors, 194 hp comb
TRANSMISSION 6-speed automaticCont. variable auto
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4175 lb (56/44%)4123 lb (56/44%)
WHEELBASE 104.7 in104.7 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 182.3 x 73.6 x 64.8 in182.3 x 73.6 x 64.8 in
0-60 MPH 7 sec8.3 sec
QUARTER MILE 15.3 sec @ 90.7 mph16.3 sec @ 84.5 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 116 ft115 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.79 g (avg)0.80 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 27.2 sec @ 0.65 g (avg)27.8 sec @ 0.63 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 21/28/24 mpg33/30/32 mpg
ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY 160/120 kW-hrs/100 miles102/112 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS 0.82 lb/mile0.61 lb/mile

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