Lexus was once known as a brand for retirees and avid golfers, but a new styling direction has quashed that image. One of the edgiest designs in the razor-edged range, the mid-sized NX SUV, has been treated to a refresh in Shanghai. The changes are subtle, but add a touch of polish to one of the weirdest looking cars in production.
Okay, so the refresh hasn't changed the most polarising part of every new Lexus: that nose, which was launched on the IS back in 2013. The Spindle Grille is now instantly recognisable, and the nose on the NX has been massaged to better integrate with the front fenders and bumper. New chrome detailing also brightens things up, and Lexus has also tweaked the twin-element headlight design, dropping the old look for a neater, flatter setup.
The changes are a bit more subtle down back, where a set of wider taillights and a lower rear bumper are essentially the only tweaks of note. Lexus has also revised the black cladding on the rear end to better highlight the L-shaped detailing in those new taillights.
Its styling direction might have taken a curious turn, but nothing has changed when it comes to Lexus interiors. Forget about tarted-up Toyotas, the interior design team does a great job of turning out attractive, functional, reliable cabins to match the best from Audi. The cabin of the NX is no different.
Gone is the seven-inch infotainment screen from the old car, and in its place is a 10.3-inch widescreen unit. The fiddly old climate controls have also been given the boot, and the clock has been redesigned to automatically adjust to different timezones – useful during daylight savings transitions, or if you're driving across Europe.
Thankfully, the mouse-style infotainment controller from the old car has been replaced with a newer trackpad, although we're not sure why Lexus won't just bite the bullet and run with a rotary controller like BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Mazda, Infiniti and... you get the idea. In a nod to the changing shape of phones, the design team has made the wireless charging tray in the cabin bigger, and the USB ports in the glovebox have been made more powerful.
Power will come from a range of compact four-cylinder engines, headlined by a hybrid option. Lexus hasn't made any changes to the any of the powertrains on offer, but it has reworked the car's suspension with sportier springs, stabilizer bars and bushings for sharper turn in. There are also new dampers, but the biggest change is the addition of Adaptive Variable Suspension to the options list.
Borrowed from the upcoming LC500, the system is able to instantly adjust rebound and compression based on the road surface. It has 650 possible combinations, as opposed to just 30 on the system fitted to the outgoing NX.
The updated NX is on show in Shanghai at the moment. It'll be on sale before the year is out, with prices expected to stay similar to the current car, which starts at US$36,000.