Lexus was an early adopter of the SUV trend, introducing the RX model way back in 1998, but it took it a long time to bring in a partner for its largest 4x4. It wasn’t until the angular and striking NX – which stands for ‘Nimble Crossover’ – arrived in 2014 that the Japanese luxury marque’s SUV numbers swelled to two, and both it and the RX have subsequently been joined by the smaller UX. The NX is a mid-sized, premium SUV with a hybrid flavour.
Lexus offered the pre-facelift NX with two drivetrains, one being the 2.5-litre hybrid and the other a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol. However, at the model’s facelift in 2017 (which only subtly enhanced the looks, instead being more of a technology update for the NX), the 2.0-litre petrol was dropped and it was never officially offered here in Ireland, meaning any scant examples you find of it on the used market will be UK imports. Thus, the 300h-badged hybrid is the only NX to consider as a second-hand purchase. It paired a 2.5-litre Atkinson cycle four-cylinder petrol engine, rated at 155hp, with a 105kW (143hp) permanent magnet synchronous electric motor. Combined peak power was 197hp, allowing the NX 300h to record 0-100km/h in 9.2 seconds – all while offering 54.3mpg (5.2 litres/100km) with CO2 emissions of just 121g/km. Lexus Ireland offered the NX in a five-trim range that ran S-Design, Dynamic, Executive, F Sport and Premium, with the first two grades being front-wheel drive and the highest two all-wheel drive; only on Executive NXs was AWD a cost option. All models of NX, be they 2WD or AWD, are fitted with an e-CVT gearbox, which is perhaps the vehicle’s weakest point – under full acceleration, the e-CVT allows the engine to rev right out and stay there, which makes the Lexus noisy when enacting overtakes or nipping out of tight junctions into busy traffic flow.
There’s only one variant to choose from and it’s the NX 300h. Realistically, no one is going to buy the NX because they need a rugged off-roader, so the two-wheel-drive versions should suit most. However, having said that, the AWD-only F Sport looks the best inside and out, and it comes with a very generous equipment list, so it’s worth seeking out.
Lexus NX 300h F Sport AWD
Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol with 105kW electric motor
Power: 197hp (peak combined drivetrain output)
Maximum speed: 180km/h
0-100km/h: 9.2 seconds
Fuel consumption: 5.2 litres/100km
• Distinctive appearance
• High quality, well-equipped cabin
• Hybrid power brings low running costs
• Infuriating interface for infotainment
• Noisy e-CVT gearbox
• Lack of choice in drivetrain department
While there are more polished mid-sized premium SUVs from European rivals, the Lexus NX cuts quite a dash with its origami-like bodywork, and the hybrid powertrain of the 300h model makes it a tempting alternative to the mainstream diesel elite. There are a few compromises to swallow if you’re going to go with the NX, but if you’re tired of smoothed-off, derivative SUVs, the Japanese model is well worth checking out.