Pros: electric driving range, premium finish
Cons: less powerful than rivals
The polarising sharp lines of the Lexus NX have softened slightly with this all-new second-generation model. Its arrival also sees the introduction of a plug-in hybrid version for the first time, and that is expected to become the dominant seller in Ireland.
Lexus NX Design
There’s no mistaking the Lexus NX for anything else, though those sharp lines, bold origami-like grille and slender LED headlights seem a touch less divisive than in the previous generation. The proportions are largely the same with only a 20mm increase in length, but more importantly the wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels) gets a 30mm stretch to the benefit of passenger space. The front and rear axles are also wider by 35- and 55mm respectively, which brings a further enhancement to the NX’s on-road handling.
One of the positive benefits of Lexus’ use of its new Global Architecture - K platform is that it was designed to accommodate plug-in hybrid tech from the outset. That means the 545 litres (expandable to 1,436 litres) of boot space is unaffected by the battery, a feat that many of its competitors cannot match. That electric tailgate also opens and closes in half the time as in the previous NX, and the Lexus name is now spelled out across the rear of it.
Lexus NX Interior
On the inside Lexus has upped its game in terms of in-car technology, and most obvious is the large 14-inch touchscreen display and new infotainment system. It is far quicker to react to inputs than on the last NX and looks good, too. Only the entry-grade Executive model gets a smaller nine-inch display. The infotainment system isn’t quite as slick as in some cars, but the availability of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration gets around this.
Elsewhere, every switch and button across the dashboard has a high-quality feel to it. The centre console has two cupholders and beneath the centre armrest (which opens both ways) there is a wireless charging pad. Rear passenger space is quite generous too, with easy ingress and egress through the wide door apertures and decent levels of head- and legroom.
Lexus NX 450h+ Performance & Drive
Powering the Lexus NX 450h+ is the same 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that is in the conventional hybrid. This engine is accompanied by a 40kW electric motor that draws its energy from a lithium-ion battery, providing enough power for up to 76 kilometres of electric driving over a combined cycle, and, Lexus claims, as much as 98 kilometres in city driving conditions.
The plug-in hybrid system enables the NX to accelerate to 100km/h from rest in 6.3 seconds and it can drive in pure electric form at up to 135km/h. By maximising the use of its battery the Lexus is theoretically capable of some incredible fuel economy figures, with the official consumption being as low as 0.9 litres/100km - or 313mpg in old money.
That figure will require some dedication to achieve, but with little effort, and after depleting the battery’s full charge, we still saw a very respectable 3.9 litres/100km over a day of driving on mixed routes. The best performance from the Lexus comes when it isn’t being hurried along. It is a car that’s setup to deliver a comfortable and smooth ride rather than one to be driven in a more sporting manner.
Keep this in mind and you’ll appreciate the smoothness of the engine when it does get pressed into use. A combined power output of 309hp sounds promising but the car isn’t quite as rapid as you might expect, as the torque levels aren’t as high as in some of its closest rivals. Nevertheless it puts in a particularly good account of itself, managing its mass well in corners and keeping a significant degree of noise from seeping into the cabin. We wouldn’t say that the NX is engaging to drive — it’s a car that’s more about pure driving comfort rather than outright dynamic ability.
Lexus NX Pricing
Pricing for the Lexus NX is not yet available. Whereas only one specification grade will be available for the NX hybrid, the 450h+ PHEV will be available with three different equipment levels — Executive, F Sport and Premium — all of which are generously equipped.
Carzone Verdict: 4/5
Aside from the huge levels of standard equipment, the NX also continues to uphold Lexus’ reputation for executing an elevated level of quality within its interior. Years of experience with hybrid technology means the PHEV Lexus NX 450h+ has turned out to be a splendidly polished car that is wonderfully comfortable to drive and capable of exceptional fuel efficiency.