We drove the Lexus NX300h: where bold styling meets ingenuity…

The Lexus NX is quite popular in its segment, and is one of its bestsellers in the European market. It has been facelifted twice now since its introduction in 2014. Its futuristic styling and angular contours make it stand out from its rivals, and for some this is also the reason to buy one. It carries of course the perfected and well honed hybrid technology the Japanese lucury brand has been well known for, and that is one of the more rational reasons to take this car among your favorites…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Rakish linear perfection

The grille of the facelifted NX is even more accentuated, as are the overall body contours and accent lines. This Lexus makes a (futuristic) statement, and this it does also in the dark. The sleeker headlamps now have Lexus’s Adaptive High-beam System, and the indicators now illuminate in a ‘sequential’ fashion.

This futuristic flair is also found in the interior, with a rather dramatic looking central console and instrument cluster. Nevertheless, the virtual screen sports classic round dials, and even a rev counter is seen in the “sport” mode.

On the central dash one finds the commands for infotainment and navigation , through a sensitive large pad which takes some getting used to in its feedback and responsiveness to your finger movements, and we were totally spoiled by the Levinson sound system.

Seats are well upholstered, and are electrically adjustable to every thinkable driving position. The steering wheel also nicely pulls back when you leave the car.

 

Finish is beyond reproach, and certainly enhances the premium feel when you sit and drive in this car.

Refined, “zen” progression.

This premium feeling is further underlined by the sheer refinement of the powertrain. A trusted, 2,5 liter  Atkinson cycle engine does the work, assisted by two electric motors, totaling 194 HP.

Driving with restraint, progress is then mostly done using the E-power, and this makes driving in tight urban traffic conditions a very relaxing and pleasant affair.

Needless to say that urban consumption is greatly improved by all this, and the manufacturer quotes 5,1 l/100 km and 117 g/km CO2 emissions.

In urban driving, it was easy to get around 6 liters/100 km, and overall, the economy benefits from a restrained, smooth driving style. The NX is reasonably quick of the mark, with an acceleration time from 0 to 100 in 9,2 seconds, and a top speed of 180 km/h.

Flooring the accelerator will result in the CVT transmission letting the engine rev high up, and this fussiness feels subjectively somewhat out of place, and therefore this Lexus does not really invite you to drive it with abandon. Flowing smoothly with the traffic and constant speed cruising is rather more where it has been designed for. When braking, the batteries are (re)charged, a neat feature we find on most hybrids.

The Lexus steers with zest over curved roads, and feels remarkably stable; the suspension is superb on smooth tarmac, yet feels a bit harsh on pavés and cobblestones. The NX has an adaptative variable suspension, which is steered trough the Drive Mode Select, but nevertheless even in the economy mode we found the suspension still rather on the firm side on our well known pavé stretch.

Driving aids are of course present on this premium Lexus. Full range Panoramic View Monitor, All Speed Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert, Park assist, Blind Sport Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, you name it.

As we said, seating comfort is superb, and also the rear passengers are spoiled with a large central armrest with space for cups.

Conclusion

A masterfully built and designed SUV, stylish and very refined. Also built for the future, ,with its EV power capabilities and its excellent drive manners in urban traffic conditions.

Add to this the seating comfort, the top class mechanical refinement as long as you flow along with the traffic, and you understand that this Lexus has a lot going for it…

Hans Knol ten Bensel