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Author: Ben Selby

Lexus NX

Hot property: The Lexus NX needs to go home with you

When Lexus launched the NX back in 2014, it very quickly became hot property for buyers in the luxury compact SUV market, with its groundbreaking design, quality and attention to detail. Fast forward to 2018 and the old favourite has been given new life by way of a few updates, so we went to find out exactly what’s what.

Lexus NX

Lexus has a unique design philosophy that couldn’t be more Japanese. The same striking Transformer like angles and curves carry on, but it offers an updated front end, accompanied by the trademark wide grill and LED headlights are fitted as standard.
There are four models that make up the revised NX range. The entry level NX300 in two-wheel drive, the NX300 in four-wheel drive, the F-Sport and the Limited spec, with the latter two available with an optional hybrid set up.
The NX300 AWD featured in our test, is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four cylinder engine producing 175kW of grunt and 350Nm of torque. Mated to a six speed automatic box, the AWD returns 5.7L/100km respectively. A 2.5 litre petrol engine works in conjunction with hybrid models and eco, normal and sport drive modes still make an appearance.
The major overhaul as far as tech is concerned is with driver safety, with all models now coming standard with adaptive cruise control, automatic high beam headlights, lane keep assist, lane departure alert, rear cross traffic alert and blind spot monitoring.
The 7-inch infotainment screen, displaying sat nav, air con, media and other bits and bobs has grown to 10.3 inches, giving much more clarity. Plus the Mark Levinson sound system, which has been a regular feature in past models, makes a welcome return. All features can be controlled via Lexus’ laptop like touchpad, though this is not quite as cutting edge as I was expecting.
The sumptuous heated/air-conditioned leather chairs are perfect for slobbing out on the commute home. For rear seat passengers, head room can be a little restrictive however, this can be remedied by titling the electric reclining 60/40 split folding rear seats.
On the move, the turbo four pot pulls well, with most of its 175kW coming to life low in the rev range. The new NX range benefits from retuned suspension so cornering smoothly is an effortless pastime.
Select sport mode and flick down a paddle for the often mandatory overtake and the NX performs this task with ease. The NX’s coup de grace is ride quality, even the pothole-ravaged roads of Christchurch are hardly noticeable. Simply stick it in eco mode and waft away.
Prices for the 2018 NX range start at $82,400 and, after spending a week in its company, the Lexus NX’s little updates all add up to make a better all rounder and leaves little doubt that it’s future in this very competitive market is secure.

Volvo XC60

New kid on the automotive block: Volvo XC60 review

Volvo’s history is littered with the wacky and wonderful, but in musical terms, its greatest hit single of recent years has to be the XC60 SUV, the Swedish firm’s best selling model ever. Now, there is a new XC60 on the block, boasting more tech, more comfort and more style than ever before.

Volvo XC60
A NEW XC60 ON THE BLOCK BOASTING MORE TECH, MORE COMFORT AND MORE STYLE THAN EVER BEFORE

The new XC60 is built on Volvo’s ‘Scalable Platform Architecture’ which it shares with its bigger sibling, the XC90 and, both inside and out, the XC60’s stunning lines leave it almost identical to its flagship brother, apart from some rear light cluster tweaks.
The XC60 shares a range of 2.0 litre engines made up of two diesels (D4 and D5) and the T5 and T6 petrol. The addition of a very clever top of line T8 Twin-Engine utilising plug-in electric hybrid technology has also contributed to the new XC60’s bragging rights. Our test car was fitted with the T5 petrol engine with 187kW of grunt and 350Nm of torque, while returning a very respectable 7.3litres/100km.
Our car also featured the range topping R-Design style package, which includes a sportier chassis, gorgeous 5-triple-spoke alloy wheels, matte silver door mirrors made for a visual feast when passing shop windows.
Interior appointment is something Volvo does extremely well. Every button you press oozes quality and the centrepiece touch screen infotainment system is clear and easy to operate. The XC60 comes with plenty of kit as standard but the optional Premium Pack would definitely be worth considering, which includes air suspension, heated front seats, tinted glass and the truly epic Bowers and Wilkins Sound System, which endured plenty of Hans Zimmer while on test.
Front and rear, the XC60 is very spacious with copious amounts of head and legroom. Boot space is good but not massive at 635 litres, though unless you are hauling tombstones, this is not really an issue. Plus the size increases to 1,432 litres with the rear seats folded flat.
Moving off and you feel snugly cocooned within the cabin, leaving it easy to see that Volvo is pathological about your safety. Volvo’s proven City Safe system is always on alert, ready to detect if a car is too close in front and put the brakes on quicker than you would yourself. Coincidentally the XC60 was named 2017’s safest car by Euro NCAP with their coveted five star safety rating.
On the move in comfort mode and despite the sporty Pirelli P-Zero rubber, every pothole and rough surface feels almost non existent. Performance can best be described as brisk but not super sporty. Then again, the XC60 is more about relaxed progress. In the bends the car does feel heavy, but turn in is crisp and sharp in dynamic mode. One would happily head to Wanaka and back in one of these.