Thursday, 15 January 2015

Lexus NX

Lexus NX - a new direction?

Woah! Been a long time since I last posted. Yeah, life is busy, for everyone, but now I have a bit more time to indulge in my secret hobby of looking at cars. OK, not so secret. 

A few years ago, I worked in a place where some of the staff were amazed at my ability to identify a car from being able to see only the taillights. As it happens, it's not that uncommon an ability (er.. I think..) but I could, within a few seconds, tell what car the person arriving was driving. 

We also had a little game where we would try to guess what that person did for a living, and in all honesty, the car would be as much of a give-away as any part of the person. 

Volvo estate, donkey jacket with patches on the elbows? Geography teacher.

Audi A5, ridiculously flashy suit? Estate agent.

BMW M5, suit with ridiculous shoulder profile? Middle manager.

Lexus, grey hair? Retired. In 1996.

You see, Lexus is a fairly unusual market in Europe. Designed for the American wealthy who are used to half-finished roads and long drives, they are like a little sanctuary where you have total silence, keeping the feeling of being surrounded by red-necks and drug dealers well and truly outside. When Toyota founded Lexus, they targeted the Mercedes market, which by and large consists of elderly, wealthy people. 

So they said, "What do old people like?". And so they went to look at where old people hang out, and, in the mistaken belief that it was typical of what older people like, went to a nursing home. 

They like quiet. They like comfort. They like to feel isolated from the outside world. They like feeling cocooned in a cotton blanket. And so Lexus was born. 

Of course this is total garbage. 

However, in the US, it sold well and overtook Mercedes as the number 1 luxury brand. 

In Europe, the people with the money were the middle aged. As a result, the luxury cars they bought were steroid-fuelled BMWs and, lately, Audis. Luxury is different in America and Europe - European luxury is handling that means you can throw the car round the corner without worrying about it before stepping on the accelerator, letting the back end slip out and getting the kick of acceleration. In America, there aren't corners like we have in Europe. At least, not as many, and as such luxury is how you deal with the fact that the roads were built by people with ADHD. "Got the concrete down Hank? That's cool, let's move onto... Oh look, McDonald's. Let's go and then go see a movie."

So Lexus luxury has always been different to the Germans. Kind of like the luxury you get with Rolls Royce, but without the finishing touches or power. 

Sportier styling

The new Lexus NX is oddly reminiscent of the Mazda CX-5. That's not such a bad thing, it's reasonably stylish. It's got a sportier look, and if what I've been told is correct, it has been selling much faster than can be produced. 

Bizarrely, they have used a gentleman called "William" to boost sales, and he appears to be a "wrapper" or some such nonsense. But I'm told that this will make it cool with the in-crowd, if it was indeed still 2004. 

Size-wise, it's about the same size as the old RX400, however the boot suffers from the slope of the roof, so usable space is actually quite limited. 

The front grille is aggressive looking (which I like) but performance is relatively sluggish. So while Lexus are pursuing a sportier look, it's not matched by performance, but I guess that's 2015, and fuel-efficient is almost as cool as "fast" was a few years ago - have a look at those who enjoy cars and speed - overwhelmingly, they are getting older. Speed is not a young man's pursuit anymore. 

So perhaps looking sporty is the new sporty?

I don't know. 

Style is good, but I bet you won't see that many on the road. Purchasers will be those who need an SUV but don't want to feel like they've lost their youth. Kind of like a mid-life crisis, but while the kids are still at home. 

Anyway, here are some pics to look at:

Lexus NX rear view shot

Lexus NX from the front