Lexus Malaysia has officially launched the 2019 Lexus NX 300, an updated version of the facelifted first-gen SUV that first surfaced in 2017. The facelift has been here since early last year, but the 2019 Lexus NX now combines lowered prices with improved equipment levels (majoring on active safety kit), making it a more attractive proposition.

The company has dropped the hybrid NX 300h, leaving the Urban, Premium and F Sport as the available trim levels here. All are powered by the familiar 2.0 litre turbo-four with 235 hp and 350 Nm of torque from 1,650 to 4,000 rpm (the NX 300 name replaced NX 200t in the facelift). The twin-scroll turbo 8AR-FTS is paired to Dynamic Torque Control AWD and a six-speed conventional automatic transmission with shift paddles. 0-100 km/h is done in 7.1 seconds and top speed is 200 km/h.

The biggest news is the addition of Lexus Safety System + (LSS+) on all variants. Lexus says that the suite of safety systems addresses three key areas of accident protection: preventing or mitigating frontal collisions, keeping drivers within their lane and enhancing visibility during night driving.

LSS+ includes Pre-Collision System (PCS) with Brake Collision Assist, Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) and Lane Departure Alert (LDA), Active Cornering Assist (ACA) and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC). The latter, which is a radar and camera-based active cruise control, operates from 0 km/h and has low-speed follow, which means that it can be used in city crawls as well.

Also new and available across the board is an Adaptive High Beam system (AHS) for the three-beam LED projector headlamps that came with the facelift. AHS has 11 independent LED chips that will turn on/off as and when required to maintain maximum brightness while reducing glare for other motorists. Customers won’t notice this in the showroom, but they would definitely catch the sequential signal lamps (front and back), which moves along the NX’s signature “tick” LED daytime running lamps.

As for the rest of the safety kit list, the 2019 NX comes with eight airbags (including driver’s knee airbag and front passenger cushion airbag, the latter supports seatbelt restraint by lifting the front edge of the seat cushion) and a reverse camera with dynamic guidelines. However, Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert is only available on the Premium – the Urban and F Sport don’t get these.

We move on to equipment. Besides LSS+ and the LED headlamps with AHS, the NX 300 range gets 18-inch two-tone alloys (225/60 tyres), front LED fog lamps with cornering function, powered steering adjustment, dual-zone auto air con with rear vents, electronic parking brake, eight-inch screen with remote touch controller and the Lexus Premium Audio system. The latter has eight speakers, an eight-channel Class D amp and Miracast/Bluetooth compatibility.

Going for the Premium over the Urban nets one a handsfree foot-activated rear hatch, smart card key, leather and wood interior trim (silver trim for Urban), electrochromic side and rear view mirrors and smooth leather (synthetic NuLuxe leather for Urban).

As for the seats, the Urban comes with eight-way powered front seats, while the Premium upgrades the driver’s chair to a 10-way powered one. The Premium also gets ventilated/heated front seats and power 60:40 folding and reclining rear seats. Buttons for the latter are located on the boot wall and below the driver’s AC vent. As mentioned above, BSM and RCTA are reserved for the Premium.

Colour options include Amber Crystal Shine (dark brown), Red Mica Crystal Shine, Sparkling Meteor Metallic (blue), Sonic Quartz, Sonic Titanium, Graphite Black Glass Flake and Blazing Carnelian. The latter is the new orange-like colour you see in these pics.

The NX 300 F Sport gets a more sporty appearance, plus a slightly different set of equipment. It does without the Premium’s smart card key, powered rear seats, foot-operated rear hatch, electrochromic side/rear view mirrors and BSM + RCTA.

What it gains is exclusive F Sport kit, which includes “performance dampers” and Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS, with 650 auto levels instead of 30 in the pre-facelift), which always comes with an additional Sports S+ mode on the Drive Model Select dial (Custom mode also available). Looks wise, look out for the jet black spindle grille with F-mesh pattern, and the 18-inch rims with Dark Premium Metallic finish, wrapped with wider 235/55 tyres.

The F-Sport also comes with exclusive colour options, in and out. The cabin comes with “Naguri-style” F-Sport Metal Film trim and can be had in black, Flare Red or Mustard Yellow. F-Sport-only exterior paint options are Heat Blue and Lava Orange. Lastly, this sporty range-topping trim comes with special F-Sport seats; perforated leather for the steering (with F-Sport logo), gear knob and seats; and a unique meter panel with boost gauge and g-map.

Prices for the CBU Japan-made SUV have been revised downwards. The NX 300 Urban is now priced at RM313,888 (it was RM326,000), while the NX 300 Premium is yours for RM333,888 (previously RM345,000). The NX 300 F Sport gets the biggest price reduction – from RM404,000, it now goes for RM349,888, a drop of more than RM54,000. All prices are on-the-road without insurance. Lexus Malaysia offers a five-year unlimited mileage warranty.

Understandably, some equipment had to be sacrificed for the lower RRP and addition of new kit. The glass roofs have been deleted (previously, the Urban and F Sport came with a full panoramic glass roof, while the Premium featured a moonroof) and wireless charging in the old Premium and F Sport are no more. The previous RM404k F Sport had a 10.3-inch screen and Mark Levinson audio system, this one doesn’t. Overall, a good trade, we think.

We also think that the Lexus NX is a good alternative to the usual German SUV suspects. It has been five years since yours truly rode in this car, and a short drive to Port Dickson and back in the latest NX 300 Premium reminded me of the Lexus’ qualities.

I shared driving duties with colleagues Hafiz (BM) and Jason (CN), and we all agreed that the NX excels as a high-speed cruiser. Sure, it’s fast and responsive enough, but it was the NX’s effortless driving experience and comfort that stood out for us. Compared to its European rivals, the NX’s NVH levels are low. Between this and the similarly-priced and powered Mercedes-Benz GLC 250, the German is a fair bit stiffer, noisier and less friendly as a daily ride, IMHO. The Lexus also has a more comprehensive safety kit package and practical features such as ventilated seats.

While seat comfort is good, the NX cabin isn’t the largest around. It’s feels nice and compact in front, and while there’s adequate head- and knee-room at the back, it’s clearly not the best for lounging. The electric recline function is nice, though.

Whether you like the NX’s super sharp exterior design and button-heavy cockpit or not, will depend on personal taste. If you’re agreeable to its unique style, you’ll be happy to hear that the quality of materials used for the cabin are very good for its class. All touch-points are covered in supple leather or substantial-feeling plastics (save for the steering button shrouds), and there’s an overriding sense of solidity that doesn’t always accompany a premium badge.

The NX’s audio system is notable. There’s no Mark Levinson logo around, but it sounds great. You don’t need to be an audiophile to rate it higher than the equivalent Merc’s Burmester or BMW’s Harman Kardon systems, but I asked one anyway. According to resident ICE-man Jason, the NX’s system is among the best he’s heard in the premium segment, and that’s because it does the basics – such as the “face” – right.

The final note is with regards to the LSS+ Lane Tracing Assist function, which can tug at the steering wheel pretty hard when you’re out of line. Its tenaciousness can be quite disconcerting if you’re new to steering assist, or slightly annoying if you’re fully sober. Of course, LTA can be dialled down or turned off if you wish. The rest of the LSS suite works as advertised – it’s a good addition to the model.

GALLERY: 2019 Lexus NX 300 Premium