The brand hopes this car will increase its European sales by a third. It’ll certainly change the way a lot of people feel about Lexus.
Push the starter button here and the only sound you get in a Lexus NX 300h hybrid like this one is the soft whirr of the steering wheel departing from its raised entry/exit position to your memory setting. The dials will spark into life and you can then ready yourself to slide away purely on electric power by pressing this EV button down here.
Get to jogging pace and the four-cylinder 2. 5-litre petrol engine this NX has borrowed from Lexus’ IS and GS hybrid saloons sparks up with a transition that is, again, ultra-polished. In town, there's really no other SUV of this size that even comes close to the seamless waft of propulsion this car provides, so if you're looking for the most relaxing and refined compact SUV you can buy for shopping and school run duties, you can end your search right here. This is it.
The speeds stats are the same whether you choose your NX 300h in two or four-wheel drive form – Lexus insists on offering the hybrid model with both options, despite the fact that even the E-Four AWD version powers through its front wheels nearly all of the time.
Remember when Lexus models tried to look like their competitors? Seems a bit quaint now doesn't it? Those days are long gone and in this NX, what we’ve got instead is one of the most individual designs on offer in the current market, its styling an absolute riot of contrasting angles, swage lines and details all competing for you attention.
All this being the case, it would have been particularly disappointing if on the inside, Lexus had served up something more conventional. Fortunately, they haven’t done. Here instead, the look and feel is more deliberately modern, with sharp angles and bold slashes of wood and metal. It's all evidence of Lexus' growing confidence as a car maker.
The urban bias of the Lexus NX emerges again when you consider its fuel economy – or at least it does if you’re looking at this 300h hybrid version which around town, brings the full benefits of its petrol/electric powertrain to bear. At first glance, the one mile limit for progression under all-electric propulsion seems a bit feeble but in practice, you use that allocation only in very small chunks between which the battery resource is constantly being replenished by brake energy regeneration. As a result, in built-up areas and stop-start traffic, the engine’s nearly always ready to function in silent all-electric milk float-mode.
Which explains why this petrol model can deliver running cost figures that better those of rival diesels, specifically 54. 3mpg on the combined cycle and 121g/km of CO2 in the 4WD version.
So there you have it. The NX may be a little too individual to sell in the kind of numbers its maker would really like – but then that’s all part of its appeal. It's not perfect but it's never boring. And in a market sector that's getting just that little bit stale, it's a breath of fresh air.