Omotenashi is the Japanese word for the highest level of hospitality. It is about treating your guests as you would welcome them at home; anticipating their needs and exceeding their expectations. It is a concept so dear to luxury car brand Lexus, we discovered during a 24 hours trip in and around Antwerp with the all-new Lexus NX.
Omotenashi defines the way in which Lexus designs features that make the driver and passengers feel well, safe and comfortable at all times. Omotenashi goes hand in hand with refinement expressed in a luxurious cabin that is finished with high quality materials applied with expert crafmanship and attention to details. That luxury quality is extending in every element of the car and not only to those elements which are visible. Lexus always tries to find better ways to do things and to push the boundaries of what is possible to provide an enjoyable experience to any driver. The all-new NX actually is the perfect presentation of how all these values are brought together. The launch of the all-new NX marks the beginning of a new chapter for Lexus which will be marked by a sustain flow of new and re-newed products no less than 20 by 2025.
Luxury quality at Lexus is extending in every element of the car and not only to those elements which are visible.
The all-new Lexus NX – which is the second generation NX – replaces a model that has been very succesful contributing to about one third of Lexus sales in Europe. More than 180,000 NX have been sold since it came into production in 2014 the vast majority to first time Lexus buyers. It is also a global success with more than 1.1 million sales since the launch. To beat this success the engineers knew they had to do better. “So we looked at every aspect of the car and asked ourselves how can improve it”, says Tanguy Lejeune from Lexus Europe. A staggering 95 percent of the parts of the car are new. So it truly is a new generation product with a new exterior and interior design, a new cabin architecture with many new features, a new multimedia system, a new platform, a series of new powertrains and even new safety and driver assist features. Even going beyond content and technologies we also aim to achieve a new level of joy and engagement. A rewarding driving experience and superior stance of control which we call the Lexus driving signature.”
A staggering 95 percent of the parts of the new NX are new.
“The first generation NX marked a clear disruption with its polarizing design identity that strongly contributed to its success”, says Lejeune. “So now for this second generation we didn’t need another revolution in design as it still is very much valued by our customers. A smooth evolution in line with our design philosphy called L-Finesse would do. L-Finesse is the application of leading edge design and technology with finesse. So we wanted the L-Finesse design to be more refined, sophisticated and natural, yet keeping its muscular character. At the same time we believe that design must serve performance. Many front, side and rear design items were developed in order to improve the stability of the car, reduce noises and optimise aerodynamics. Inside we have introduced a new cabin architecture with a driver oriented cockpit and a more open space for the passenger. In fact the NX is the first Lexus to use the new Tazuna cockpit layout. Tazuna is a Japanese word to describe the reins of a horse. In NX it is about the driving, feeling more intuitive control of the vehicle, following the principle of ‘hands on the wheel, eyes on the road’.”
We clearly can feel what the engineers wanted to accomplish with the Tazuna cockpit layout. The cabin finish is rich in examples of Lexus Takumi craftsmanship, using high-quality materials that look and feel good. We feel as if we are sitting in a luxurious lounge.
Another dimension of the cabin is hospitality. In terms of hospitality or ‘omotenashi’ NX welcomes us with a gentle illumination sequence that starts from the moment we approach the car. Once inside a brand new ambient lighting program or a Lexus mood selector gives us a taste of no less than 64 different colours out of which 14 preselected moods to suit our taste. Another illustration of Omotenashi spirit is the new electronic door opening system called e-Latch. It is actually inspired by the one movement operation of the sliding doors in Japanese homes. Instead of pulling a handle, you just open the door by a gently push on the button. It is extremely smooth. E-latch has also a safety dimension (more on that and pictues in Part 1 of this sequel click here).
The multimedia system
The in cabin experience in this new NX has been clearly taken to the next level by a brand new multimedia and connectivity system. Its 14 inch touchscreen is one of the largest in its class and it connects you like never before. Providing new and smart technologies to offer smart and seemless connected experience. It has a high definition resolution and it is a touchscreen which of course is more convenient but for our convenience Lexus also kept a few physical buttons for the most frequently used controllers settings like for instance audio volume and climate controls/temperature.
The multimedia system feels completely new, much faster much more responsive, and its navigation system is an always connected navi that benefits from continuous updates and that will give you for instance the last traffic information, the road events or the available parking spot at your destination.
Another brand new feature is the ‘Hey, Lexus’ smart voice assistant. Its like having a natural dialogue with your car. Just say ‘Hey, Lexus’ and the assistant will be there to help you in hundreds of different ways. It will understand not only direct instructions which you give to your phone or navigation, it will also understand the context. If you say for instance that you are hungry it will give you details of the nearby restaurants. ‘Hey Lexus’ can also interact directly with the vehicle like closing all the windows for instance, adjusting the climate control and also when the local connectivity allows you to it can give you cloudbased information like the price of the fuel nearby. Convenience is also provide by the Lexus Link app which allows you to control your vehicle remotely. For example (un)locking the vehicle, opening the tail gate, controlling the airconditioning and defrost the winsdcreen, checking the car battery level or to locate your car even in the busiest car parks and share it.
The sound of…
In terms of audiosystems, the new NX is standard equipped with a high quality 10 speaker system. It is designed to provide a realistic live performance atmosphere with a surround effect. For those who want an even better quality Lexus offers the new optional Mark Levinson sound system with 17 speakers, 1,800 watts amplified power and 7.1 surround sound decoding for impressive aural entertainment.
“We wanted to give the new NX the Lexus driving signature which is about delivering an enjoyable driving experience to any driver”, Lejeune says. “We aim for a perfect combination of ride comfort, smooth refinement, and responsiveness. The drive is in fact very predictable, so it inspires confidence. And it is also very quite and comfortable. This is achieved thanks to a new platform, a new suspension, new braking and new steering systems that have been developed especially to reach that goal. In terms of powertrains we are introducing two new powertrains. The first one is the NX 350h, this is a selfcharging hybrid system. Its technology combines petrol and electric power and is designed for smooth and comfortable drive yet eco-friendly and fuel efficient. With this engine no plug is required as the hybrid battery charges itself when driving, slowing down or breaking. This is a very efficient powertrain and is a great alternative for those customers that seek an alternative for diesel or petrol but that are not yet ready to take to a plug-in hybrid or electric car. Lexus has more than 15 years of experience in this technology and it has sold over 2 million of hybrid vehicles worldwide. Year after year, generation after generation Lexus continued to improve its hybrids.
The NX plug-in hybrid has an EV combined driving range up to 74 km and even up to 100 km in city environments. That is in fact more than twice as much as the direct competitors.
Plug-in hybrid electric model
Besides the NX 350h engine Lexus also introduces its first plug-in hybrid electric model, the NX 450h+. Best in class in terms of CO2-emissions (20 to 25 grams), fuel economy and EV driving range. You can drive zero-emission up to 135 km/h. The NX plug-in hybrid has an EV combined driving range up to 74 km and even up to 100 km in city environments. That is in fact more than twice as much as the direct competitors. With the NX when the EV battery is depleted the NX 450h will operate as a highly efficient full hybrid vehicle. This brings to NX significant benefits in terms of fuel consumption compared to its direct competitors. Actually according to our test 23 percent lower consumption in all wheel drive and up to 30 percent less consumption in dynamic drive.
Once in the car we notice that there are different driving modes. The first driving mode by default is the EV mode. In this mode we enjoy zero emission even when full acceleration is command. In the Auto EV hybrid mode the engine will restart when maximum acceleration is required. And then there is the Hybrid mode that will maintain the battery state of charge for later use. `
Safety and driver assist features
The NX comes with the third generation Lexus Safety System+ which is a comprehensive package with seven new and improved safety functions. One of the smartest new features and our favourite is the safe exit assist that in essence will warn the driver and cancel the door opening from the inside when a vehicle or bicycle is coming from the rear. This is made possible thanks to the E-latch new electronic door opening system from Lexus. “We at Lexus believe that more than 95 percent of accidents caused by dangerous opening of doors can be avoided with this system”, says Lejeune.
Lexus also used the camera and radar of its safety system to introduce new convenience and assistance features for instance the Advanced park system that will park the car automatically and later this year Lexus will introduce a remote parking function.
Our opinion: the new NX is more than we expected. It feels more agile than it’s predecessor and offers more comfort. We drove the Lexus NX 350h (the standard hybrid) and could appreciate it’s sporty tightness of the suspension, however the sound of the CVT when flooring the throttle we couldn’t get used to. Our average consumption? 8,2 liter/100 km.
Price for Belgium from 51.750 Euros onwards (for the Lexus NX 350h, FWD).