Lexus upgrades NX300

Lexus upgrades NX300

For the 2018 model year, Lexus has changed the naming designation for models in its NX range of mid-sized SUVs – and simultaneously implemented a number of styling and specification upgrades.

What was the NX 200t has become the NX 300 to reflect the power and torque outputs of its four-cylinder, turbocharged, 2,0-litre engine which, according to company claims, become more or less equivalent to those of a normally-aspirated, 3,0-litre plant – 175kW and 350Nm. The model is available in E, EX and F-Sport trim grades.

Supplementing the line-up is a hybrid derivative – the NX 300h EX – which utilises a four-cylinder, 2,5-litre Atkinson cycle engine in combination with an electric drive to produce about 150kW, the derivative’s primary focus being fuel efficiency.

The model under scrutiny here is the baseline NX 300E, which features a front-wheel drivetrain as opposed to the all-wheel equivalent utilised by siblings, with transmission through a six-speed automatic gearbox.



Styling upgrades include a revised front end that incorporates a chrome-framed spindle grille which conforms to the brand’s signature look – its thick proportions contrasting with thin, angular headlamp clusters – and a bumper designed to emphasise the vehicle’s width.

Daytime running lights that underscore the headlights take the form of slivery zig-zags, while colour-coded outside mirrors – which are heated – incorporate chrome trim that ostensibly helps to express strength and luxury.


In keeping with the front-end theme, a variety of sharply angular shapes grace the flanks while, at the rear, long, slender, two-part tail light housings wrap around the corners of the body to form wing-like outlines on the sides.

The bumper incorporates geometrically shaped twin exhaust pipe outlets set either side of a low-mounted, centrally placed diffuser. The vehicle rides on 17-inch alloy rims wrapped by high-profile, 225/65 rubber.



Inside, the cabin is light and airy, from a space perspective able to accommodate four adults in comfort and five at a pinch, the central seat on the rear bench being suitable for a child. Head and legroom is acceptable.

Though the 500-litre boot is of a respectable size for a mid-range SUV, its volume is less than that of some rivals and, while the square shaped aperture through which loading takes place is wide, a high lip means more lifting effort is required to get objects into the cargo bay. Rear seats fold forward in a 60/40 split to extend the load area to more than 1 500 litres.


At the front, an eight-inch, high-mounted touch screen takes centre stage, with revised switchgear helping to reduce clutter on the underlying fascia. The instrument cluster is set in an adjustable, TFT multi-information display.

Imitation leather, chrome and thick carpeting tend to dominate the interior’s look, the indulgent appeal of the cabin helped by satin finishes on door handles, contrasting stitching on dashboard and consoles and soft touch materials in high traffic areas. The colour of lighting in the multi-information display is linked to the drive mode switch, changing with each selection.

Standard features include an audio system with eight speakers; a multimedia linkage function, with controls mounted on the steering wheel, to enable the display of mobile phone caller information or audio track titles; automatic, dual-zone air conditioning; a smart entry system; auto-sensing windscreen wipers; three drive modes – sport, normal and eco; cruise control and fuel-saving, stop-start technology.


Stability control; hill assist control and trailer sway control are among a host of driver aids, while standard safety features include anti-lock brakes, emergency brake assist, a tyre pressure monitoring system, eight airbags, a rear view camera and park distance control.  

In terms of handling upgrades, the vehicle’s underpinnings have been refined with a view to improving comfort and reducing body roll. Revised front damper settings, a stiffer rear stabiliser bar and firmer bushings contribute to a ride that is firm but compliant.


From a performance perspective, the model is credited with a 7,1-second time from zero to 100km/h, with top speed measured at 200km/h. Fuel consumption in the combined cycle is rated at 7,9 litres/100km, with CO2 emissions of 184g/km.


On the road the car feels stable and lively, its steering light but accurate and its ability to ride bumps well controlled. The gearbox shifts intelligently, helped in sport mode by what Lexus has dubbed AI shift control, which quickens the cog-swapping pace to optimise acceleration through the gears.

The NX300E is priced at R599 900, representing reasonable value for a premium product in a market segment that offers a stack of rivals – some of which cost a lot more.