The Lexus NX has been on the books for almost six years now, sharing its platform with the previous-generation Toyota RAV4. So, it's not much of a surprise that Lexus is keen to move a few more of these before the model presumably gets an update sometime next year.
Enter stage left, the 2019 Lexus NX300 Crafted edition. This limited model comes with extra features, plus the benefit of drive-away pricing and a sharp finance offer, but is it worth spending money on?
Priced from $62,888 drive-away (with a 4.99 per cent finance comparison rate), the two-wheel-drive NX300 Crafted (as tested here) comes with a 360-degree camera system, a tilt and slide moonroof, unique 18-inch alloy wheels in machined/black finish, black exterior accents (front grille and mirror caps), illuminated ‘Lexus’ front-door scuff plates, and a smart key card in addition to its standard specification.
Despite its age, the Lexus NX still looks pretty fetching. The design is edgy and still looks futuristic enough to stand out in traffic. It also doesn't look anything like it belongs close to the bottom of the range, which is pleasing to see.
Once you close the cabin door, there is a typical air of Lexus silence. The doors close with a soft thud, while every part of the interior is softly padded for your leisure. They even thought of small things like padding on the sections your knee will make contact with while driving.
Lexus maintains quaint touches like the analogue clock in the centre of the cabin, along with a CD player – something you won't find in a lot of new cars on the market today.
The NX also comes with a five-star ANCAP safety rating (from 2017), along with low- and high-speed autonomous emergency braking (AEB), a front and rear, side and curtain airbags, along with driver and front passenger knee airbags.
But, it's not all smooth sailing. The infotainment system is very poor. The 10.3-inch infotainment system is laggy with menu items impossibly buried deep within other context layers. The touchpad-style controller for the infotainment is hard to use on the move and barely yields any benefits over a traditional wheel.
Changing radio stations is a confusing process, which is made even harder with the advent of digital radio bands containing countless stations. It's also let down by a poorly integrated voice-recognition system that requires fairly precise inputs to function as it should, as opposed to more generic voice commands.
Thankfully, it's helped along by a decent 10-speaker sound system that provides excellent clarity and plenty of bass.
The first row of seating is very comfortable with sumptuous seats that provide ample support. Head and leg room are excellent.
Leg and head room in the second row are good, but it feels slightly cramped if the driver or front passenger has their seat a way back. The front pews are pretty large and slightly rob second-row passengers of space.
Second-row occupants get a centre armrest with cup holders, and a row that folds in a 60:40 split-folding fashion.
Cargo space comes in at 500L with the second row in place, expanding to 1545L with the second row folded flat. Beneath the cargo floor is a space-saver spare tyre.
Under the bonnet of the NX300 is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that produces 175kW of power and 350Nm of torque, which is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that exclusively sends torque to the front axle.
Lexus claims a combined fuel economy figure of 7.7 litres of fuel per 100km. We're not sure how Lexus managed to come up with this figure – the best we achieved, even with incredibly light-footed driving, was just north of 11L/100km.
That's partly thanks to the engine hitting its peak torque figure between 1650–4000rpm. Beneath that it's barely awake and requires a confident prod before surging into turbocharged fury.
It gives you a decent shove in the back as it gets up and goes, but hearing the thrashy 2.0-litre engine, even with Lexus's excellent sound deadening, almost always means you're sucking through juice at a rate of knots.
It's a shame because the engine is confident and punchy, and the six-speed automatic is reasonable, but there's no hiding the fact it weighs just under 1800kg in front-wheel-drive form – that's a lot of weight for an engine like this to haul efficiently.
That can be felt when cornering. Even with electrically assisted steering, the NX feels heavy behind the wheel and doesn't have the nimble feeling its competitors have built into their chassis for a more confidence-inspiring drive.
On the clock it'll zip from 0–100km/h in 7.3 seconds, and requires a diet of at least 95RON fuel.
While the fuel use is enough to put most buyers off, it's surprisingly the harsh ride and heavy feel behind the wheel that really seal the deal.
Despite riding on 18-inch alloy wheels with generous 60-profile rubber, the car crashes over bumps and doesn't have anywhere near the level of comfort you come to enjoy from newer Lexus products.
It's much smoother on the freeway, but the way it rides in and around town really leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
Importantly, visibility out the front, sides and rear is very good, with a good quality 360-degree view camera and both front and rear parking sensors.
Lexus offers a four-year warranty with 12-month, 15,000km service intervals, whichever occurs first. The average service cost over a four-year period is around $660 per year.
The Lexus NX had a good run, but it's starting to show its age. Just like the Toyota RAV4 saw a quantum leap in every way with a move away from its old platform, Lexus will likely follow suit when the new NX hits the ground sometime next year.
Until then, it's worth giving this one a miss if you're spending most of your time in and around the city. There are far better options in this price bracket, like the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLC.