Lexus NX 300h: Gorgeous Looking Thing But Is It Any Good?

 

2014 Lexus NX 300h F Sport

2014 Lexus NX 300h F Sport2014 Lexus NX 300h F Sport

2014 Lexus NX 300h F Sport2014 Lexus NX 300h Luxury

 

Lexus called saying we had to take the NX out for a spin, so we did.

OUTSIDE:

It’s certainly looks the business. It is deeply sculptured, very modern and adorned with LEDs front and back. The face is handsome and rugged, just the thing for an aspiring SUV. The high-tech tail lenses have delicately carved trails of light like the expensive Europeans. It all looks very positive from the outside.

Although diminutive for an SUV, the highset body gives those with back trouble easy access, and those who like a high driving position will be very happy. Lexus owners will no doubt have a country seat to which they escape on the weekends. Those piles have long driveways which can be troublesome in inclement weather. They must be careful when getting out as big glugs of countryside have adhered themselves unattractively to the underside of the car. Getting out often results in schmutz on a clean pair of tweeds as the legs touch the side of the door opening. This isn’t a problem with the doors on the NX which extend right down keeping the outside surface clean.

I like the crispness of the design. It is hard to do much with the exterior of a slab-sided SUV, and NX manages to look a bit different.

INTERIOR:

Delicious is my word du jour. Smart entry/start gives you access to a tasteful and classy cabin. The heated/cooled seats have perforated high quality leather coverings, just the ticket for tired execs fresh in from snorting up random chairmanships.

Once seated, the instruments all makes sense. They easily fall to hand, and there is even a concealed detachable vanity mirror in the centre console for last minute touch-ups. The materials are of a high quality, including the analogue clock front and centre. The surfaces of the cabin have been wrapped in leather and leather-look material. I don’t mind Pleather as long as it doesn’t bring back awful memories of sliding off vinyl couches as a child in Queensland summers. The other plastics feel solid but I’d like to see a little less of the grey pretend-metal. A veneer of the real thing looks much better and the finish lasts much longer. No matter how good the quality is, metalised plastic never looks good after a few years wear because it is easily scratched. Once scratched, the underlying ugly base plastic shows through. This instantly ages the surface and although easily replaced, rarely is.

The dashboard has a lot going on. There are swoops and lines and deep recesses all over it. It’s even got a CD player which feels a bit last millennium, after all, when was the last time you used one. I haven’t tried playing a movie or music direct from it but the thought of carrying hundreds of discs on a road trip doesn’t fill me with masses of undiluted pleasure.

Interestingly, Iphone 5 was not compatible with the NX’s audio streaming (either USB or Bluetooth). After a short period of co-operation, the system has a wobbly and kicks the feed off. You then need to fettle it to get you BT or USB back. It took many hours of hair-pulling experimentation to discover you can’t have both switched on at the same time. If you’re using the USB cable to charge from the port, you have to BT disconnect the audio streaming. If you want to charge while BT streaming you will need a car charger. Is it just me, or is that almost unforgivable.

I don’t particularly like options being under layers of menu either. And, as most vehicle functions are controlled through the console, it’s a busy place whenever you want to make changes to the setup. The radio has no direct station select buttons on the console so tuning can be a bit of a faff. It is a small misdemeanour but it ruins an otherwise great experience and drives me nuts, but the sound from the upgraded speakers is rich and full so one mustn’t grumble. The Infotainment is driven by the track-pad between the front seats. It is much easier to use than the old Lexus toggle which was oversensitive. In many ways it reminds me of BMWs I-drive, which is not as much of a compliment as it sounds. The menus are complex and tuning the radio can take a while, and certainly not while you’re on the move. In the menu, select pre-set or stations list, then you can move through them with the steering wheel buttons. Once set, you normally don’t need to go into the menus.

Other than that the news is all good. The seats are superbly comfy. As I said earlier, they are heated and cooled meaning on even the hottest days, wasp breathes of lightly chilled air waft through the leather.

I could imagine a long leisurely road trip with crisp packets and drink cans strewn thither, and arriving daisy-fresh at the other end.

THE DRIVE:

Our NX had the tried and tested Toyota Hybrid system and is one that does what it says on the box. Once, owning an SUV of any size meant forking out for fuel hand over fist, but not anymore. We managed 7L/100k around town which isn’t bad for spacious premium transport.

Because the electric motor gives you oodles of instant torque, the green-light sprint is surprisingly perky. Be prepared for a bit of a kafuffle from under the bonnet thanks to the CVT transmission. Sticking the boot in means the revs go up, and stay there. The noise doesn’t go away again until you lift your foot up a bit. It takes a while to get used to but it’s the trade-off for extra fuel savings. Once you no longer need the power, the CVT reduces the revs down as far as it can while still keep still keep you moving. At cruising speed, the CVT will try to keep the revs as low as it can, and since there are no gears as such, it varies as the power is required.

The cabin is fairly quiet and the handling fairly responsive. You get where you’re going with no fuss, in much comfort. When you arrive, you can open the tailgate from the button on the dashboard. Once you press the button turn the system off, the steering wheel moves away to give you more room to get out. After getting you bag, pressing the button on the tailgate lowers it as you walk away. You can do all this from the key fob if you want, so the tailgate will open as you approach with arms full of Christmas shopping. It’s all very civilised. These features are by no means unique to Lexus, but Lexus puts it together in a handsome package.

You can drive all Toyota and Lexus hybrids in electric-only mode. During in normal driving the system will also charge the batteries, switch off at lights, and change between normal mode and EV only without the driver intervening.

The AWD system will take you off-road, but not as far as the full-4-wheel-drive-monty.

Conclusion:

The new NX is a good car. It is comfortable and frugal. The batteries have proved to last much longer than anyone expected and now have an 8 year warranty. The design is modern and the cabin is quiet.

The question prospective buyers will ask is: what else is around for the price. There are full 4WDs that are also comfy and well built, but are also cheaper. Lexus says it is a premium car maker and lists BMW, Mercedes Benz and Audi as rivals. The Germans also have AWD SUVs of various sizes and at around the same price. Lexus has a lot of kit as standard that the Germans charge extra for. Does Lexus have the street cred to compete against the joined rings, the 3 pointed star, and the blue and white roundel? Lexus thinks so.

Would I buy one? No, I would only ever buy an SUV if I wanted 4WD. Jeep’s Cherokee and grand Cherokee are 2 4WDs that come to mind. I like the NX very much and a 4WD option might tempt me.

Price: $60,576 (2wd in NSW) to $82,249 (AWD Sports Luxury in NSW) drive away

Power: 147kw combined petrol/electric, 2.5 4cyl petrol + series p’llel hybrid

Trans: CVT

Subaru pricing shift shock

MY15 Subaru Liberty

MY15 Subaru Liberty 3.6RMY15 Subaru Liberty 3.6R

MY15 Subaru Liberty 2.5i PremiumMY15 Subaru Liberty 3.6R

Subaru Australia has announced a significant price realignment of two new generation model ranges, offering savings of up to 25 per cent – or $14,000 – despite specification increases.

The All-Wheel Drive Liberty and Outback models offer a wide array of new equipment, including the internationally-acclaimed EyeSight® driver assist system in every Liberty.

The multi award-winning vehicles all share an independent five-star rating for occupant safety from the respected Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) and have achieved the highest points tally yet by Subaru models: 35.99 out of a maximum possible 37.    

Subaru Australia Managing Director, Nick Senior, said several factors had prompted the shift: “Most notably the exchange rate, the Japanese Free Trade Agreement and more efficient manufacturing, driving reduced costs.

“Currency is always going to have the biggest impact on imported goods. It is clear that the Yen Australian dollar equation has moved into a more favourable range for us.

“We have factored in the Free Trade Agreement, because we know it will be legislated in the near future. Therefore, it is prudent to act now.

“Also, the Europeans have moved into more mainstream segments and we too have changed strategy with Liberty in particular – making the price versus specification ratio more attractive than ever before.

“Finally, there are obvious benefits from all of FHI’s efforts to constantly improve manufacturing efficiency, leading to reduced costs.

“So, there is a combination of factors that ultimately led to this important pricing statement by us.

“And this will lead to growth in prospect and customer interest in our brand and our products, thanks to our strategic All 4 the Driver initiatives from customer service, engineering and durability to value.”

LIBERTY AND OUTBACK MY15 MANUFACTURER’S LIST PRICING*

Liberty 2.5i CVT

$29,990 (-$3000, or 9.1 per cent)

Liberty 2.5i Premium CVT

$35,490 (-$4000, or 10.1 per cent)

Liberty 3.6R

$41,990 (-$14,000, or 25.0 per cent)

   

Outback 2.5i CVT

$35,990 (-$3000, or 7.7 per cent)

Outback 2.5i Premium CVT

$41,490 (-$2000, or 4.6 per cent)

Outback 2.0D manual

$35,490 (-$5000, or 12.3 per cent)

Outback 2.0D CVT

$37,490 (-$5500, or 12.8 per cent

Outback 2.0D Premium manual

$41,490 (-$2000, or 4.6 per cent)

Outback 2.0D Premium CVT

$43,490 (-$2500, or 5.4 per cent)

Outback 3.6R

$47,990 (-$10,000, or 17.2 per cent)

INFINITI CONCEPT Vision Gran Turismo launching in Gran Turismo® 6 on the PlayStation® 3 System

INFINITI CONCEPT Vision Gran Turismo gaycarboys

 

HONG KONG – Infiniti today lifts the virtual covers off the INFINITI CONCEPT Vision Gran Turismo, a vision of what a high performance Infiniti could look like in the future. It was created through close collaboration with the creators of Gran Turismo®, the racing game franchise developed by Polyphony Digital Inc. that has sold more than 72 million copies worldwide. The INFINITI CONCEPT Vision Gran Turismo will be available for download starting today in Gran Turismo®6 (GT6™) exclusively on the PlayStation®3 system.

The INFINITI CONCEPT Vision Gran Turismo is a project that started as an ambitious global Infiniti Design competition to “design a pure Infiniti GT car.” The winning model was born from the theme put forward by Infiniti’s Design team in Beijing. Part beauty, part beast, its shape is powerful, sensual and audacious – a mix of a track machine and the dream of our Chinese design team to create an ambitious racing language for Infiniti.

The process of developing the design of the INFINITI CONCEPT Vision Gran Turismo started with hand sketching, then refined digitally, refined again by hand sculpting, and then returned to digital for final refinement.

This project went much further than being a mere design exercise. It included thorough examinations and calculations of technical features such as aerodynamics and engine performance. The front mid-ship / trans-axle powertrain enables the finely distributed 45:55 front/rear weight balance that fills users with the joy of driving by actively drifting the rear. As for aerodynamics, the under-floor airflow control, front and back diffusers, and uniquely shaped rear spoiler enable this car to demonstrate high performance without compromising the impact of the body design.

Today, automotive gaming enthusiasts are able to discover that performance first-hand when the concept car becomes available for download in Gran Turismo®6. Drivers who own GT6 will be the first to test drive the virtual concept car on world famous tracks across the globe.

“PlayStation” and “Gran Turismo” are registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.

Jaguar LandRover’s Virtual Windscreen: 360­° View eliminating Pillars

Jaguar Land Rover has launched a research project to develop technologies that will offer drivers a 3600 GAYCARBOYS (2)Jaguar Land Rover has launched a research project to develop technologies that will offer drivers a 3600 GAYCARBOYS (3)

Jaguar Land Rover has launched a research project to develop technologies that will offer drivers a 3600 GAYCARBOYS (4)Jaguar Land Rover has launched a research project to develop technologies that will offer drivers a 3600 GAYCARBOYS (1)

 


Jaguar Land Rover develops transparent pillar and ‘Follow-Me’ Ghost Car Navigation Research

  • Jaguar Land Rover reveals its ‘360 Virtual Urban Windscreen’ research, which uses transparent roof pillars to give the driver a 3600 view outside the car
  • To aid navigation on busy urban roads, a ghost car could be projected in front of the car for the driver to follow
  • The concept uses future Heads-Up Display technology to provide information to keep the driver’s eyes on the road and reduce distraction
  • ‘360 Virtual Urban Windscreen’ and ‘Follow-Me Ghost Car Navigation’ are part of a suite of new concept technologies that Jaguar Land Rover is developing to reduce the potential for accidents

Whitley, UK: 15th September 2014: Jaguar Land Rover has launched a research project to develop technologies that will offer drivers a 3600 view out of their vehicle, uninterrupted by the pillars that support the roof.

A screen would be embedded in the surface of each pillar inside the car and would take a live video feed from cameras covering the angles outside the car usually obscured in the blind spots created by the A, B and C-pillars.

Pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles would be visible all around the car – and by combining the transparent pillars with an advanced high quality Heads-Up display, the movement of other road users could be highlighted to the driver with an on-screen halo moving across the car’s virtual windscreen.

When the driver indicates to change direction, when they move their head to look over their shoulder during an overtake manoeuvre, or as the vehicle approaches a junction, the system would automatically make the left or right-hand side pillars transparent.

Dr Wolfgang Epple, Director of Research and Technology, Jaguar Land Rover, said: “Our ultimate aim is to reduce the potential for accidents and enhance the urban driving experience. The Jaguar Land Rover research team is developing this technology to improve visibility and to give the driver with the right information at the right time. If we can keep the driver’s eyes on the road ahead and present information in a non-distracting way, we can help drivers make better decisions in the most demanding and congested driving environments.”

The full potential for the 360 Virtual Urban Windscreen would be delivered by connecting the virtual windscreen to the Cloud. By connecting the car to roadside infrastructure and businesses in the urban landscape, the Virtual Urban Windscreen could present information ranging from petrol station prices to the number of parking spaces available, so drivers won’t have to look for this information themselves.

The connected car could also enhance navigation by advising the driver to turn left or right at more visible landmarks, such as pubs or shops, rather than just road signs or street names.

While the most intuitive and efficient way to navigate to a specific location is to be able to follow someone who knows the best route – so the Jaguar Land Rover team is developing ‘Follow-Me Ghost Car Navigation’, which projects an image of a vehicle in front of the driver’s car for them to follow, turn by turn, to their destination.

“Driving on city streets can be a stressful experience, but imagine being able to drive across town without having to look at road signs, or be distracted trying to locate a parking space as you drive by,” added Dr Epple. “We want to present all of this information on a Heads-Up Display in the driver’s eye-line, so the driver doesn’t have to seek it out for themselves and take their eyes off the road ahead.”

Mini Review – Entry Level Motoring: Honda Jazz

2014 Honda Jazz gaycarboys  (11)

2014 Honda Jazz gaycarboys  (1)

2014 Honda Jazz gaycarboys  (2)2014 Honda Jazz gaycarboys  (13)

2014 Honda Jazz gaycarboys  (4)2014 Honda Jazz gaycarboys  (9)

2014 Honda Jazz gaycarboys  (3)2014 Honda Jazz gaycarboys  (10)

It’s new, and in a funny kind of way, quite cute.

It isn’t an exciting car by any means, but it is a very practical runabout for those cramped, smelly, smoky, crowded inner city streets. It is a popular choice for the younger and older crowd because it runs on the smell of an oily rag and is cheap to buy brand new. They also retain their value so you get a decent price when you go to sell, so is a win all round.

At around 15 grand plus onroads, the pov model still has a decent audio system and of course those tricky rear seats for which Jazz is known. Bluetooth pairs easily and you can USB charge and stream as well. Most will love the Siri Eyes Free mode so you can use the voice control as you would if you were holding the phone in your hand. That comes in handy for dialling and messaging. SatNav is also part of the system, kind of, via an app on your phone. The interface is a bit clunky and I’d had many long hours trying to get it to work smoothly. It requires an intrusive HDMI cable as well as the USB which sees cables flung about the cabin with gay abandon and looks very untidy. It has conniptions when calls come in with the satnav being interrupted and not resuming. In the end I gave up and used the phone in a cradle instead. That’s the best way. This system is now Honda-wide and I have no doubt this mark I model will be refined as time goes on. That won’t help anyone buying it now though. With Siri the best feature, there is no longer an excuse for barrelling down Oxford St bowling over pedestrians like nine-pins.

2014 Honda Jazz gaycarboys  (5)2014 Honda Jazz gaycarboys  (7)2014 Honda Jazz gaycarboys  (6)

The concept drawing looked stunning with a low wide car that looked fast even when it was standing still, but what we got was a higher roof on a less inspiring mini people mover. OK my blood isn’t furiously pumping and it isn’t the object of my desire, but it is perfect at what it does. Think about parking in the city: those parking spots feel like they’re getting smaller. The traffic is getting worse, and fuel is costing more. It makes sense that a small frugal engine in an efficient well designed, well-built car is best suited to an inner urban environment. City cars have seen an explosion of interest because people are becoming smarter about their choices. All come with air conditioning and lekky windows so the mod cons are taken care of.

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The top Jazz even has lashings of leather for boys who enjoy a bit of luxury, or an alternative lifestyle. There is keyless entry and smart start so you can leave the key in your pocket. There will be no fumbling about in the dark, at least not for your keys. The top model is nearly $26,000 which is top whack for a city car but you do get a lot for your money.

She doesn’t disgrace herself on the road either. The steering is smooth and light and the CVT means no 2014 Honda Jazz gaycarboys  (12)changing gears. In fact the CVT auto gets better fuel consumption than a manual. It sounds strange with the engine at max revs while the speed takes a little time to catch up, but CVTs are common place because of their ability to use less fuel. The revs drop the moment the vehicle no longer needs the power. So with fewer revs, there is less petrol being injected. You may not like a CVT but it does what it says on the box.

She is a bit rolly-polly in the corners but that’s so the ride is comfy on the goat tracks passing as roads in our cities. You won’t be breaking any track records nor would you want to take 4 adults on a long trip, but that isn’t what Jazz was designed for.

There is a sense of playfulness about the Jazz. It doesn’t take itself too seriously but is still reliable and comfortable. It’s cheap to buy, cheap to run, easy to park and easy to drive.

Think of Jazz as the Mini of the 21st century sans dire electrics.

Would I buy one: Yes, but I’d buy the manual pov model and have a convertible for the weekends.

Price: $16,990 – $25,726 (on road for auto)

Engine 1.5 petrol, 91ron fuel, 88kw/145NM, 5.8L/100k (auto)

Mazda develops bioplastic for exterior car parts

 

Hiroshima, Japan: Mazda Motor Corporation has announced that, in conjunction with Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, it has developed a new bio-based engineering plastic that can be used for exterior design parts for automobiles.

The new plastic will help Mazda to reduce its impact on the environment in a number of important ways.

As the plastic is made from plant-derived materials, its adoption will help to curb the use of petroleum resources and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Furthermore, the material can be dyed and emissions of volatile organic compounds associated with the painting process reduced.

Dyed parts made from the bio-based engineering plastic feature a finish of higher-quality than can be achieved with traditional painted plastic. The deep hue and smooth, mirror-like finish of the surface make the newly-developed plastic suitable for external vehicle parts with a high design factor.

Mazda will display prototype “Mazda Biotech material” parts made from the bio-based engineering plastic at Eco-Products 2014.

One of Japan’s largest exhibitions of environmental technologies and environmentally-friendly products and services, Eco Products 2014 is a three day event staged at Tokyo Big Sight starting today.

Mazda has been proactively developing technologies in the biomass field for a number of years.

To date, under the “Mazda Biotech material” name, the company has succeeded in developing the automotive industry’s first high-strength heat-resistant plant-derived bioplastic for auto interior parts, and the world’s first biofabric for vehicle seat upholstery made entirely from plant-derived fibre.

However, to be suitable for exterior parts, plastics are required to possess not only a high quality finish, but also excellent weather, scratch and impact resistance in order to stand up to harsh environmental factors to which they are exposed. Achieving this combination of characteristics with bioplastics has posed a technical challenge.

Now, Mazda has succeeded in making a material suitable for both interior and exterior parts. This has been achieved by optimising the composition of a newly developed, highly mouldable and durable bioplastic base material with additives and colouring agents (patent pending), and optimising moulding specifications.

This will enable the company to produce parts that are as durable as conventional painted ABS plastic parts yet feature a higher quality finish.

This bio-based engineering plastic will make its debut on interior parts for All-New Mazda MX-5 which will be launched globally in 2015. Moving forward, it will be used for exterior parts in other production models.

Mazda will continue to proactively develop unique technologies to help achieve a sustainable society with the aim of developing products that provide both driving pleasure and outstanding environmental and safety performance.