It had been a long time since I had been into a Lexus, notably since attending the international premiere of this second generation NX in May of this year, and the most surprising thing is that I had precisely the same initial impression of the car in this particular reunion. You have to check how it compares to its predecessor for a 2014 model! And it's not something negative, but exactly the contrary. You are aware that when a manufacturer makes such judgments, it is typically because he has hit the nail on the head. The new Lexus NX enters the scene via the eyes; it is contemporary, technical, and smart... However, you immediately recognize it as a Lexus. The best part? He now has other reasons that are more compelling than his image.
When you look closely, you'll see a lot of allusions to the Lexus UX, the vehicle that started this progression in the brand's design language and is now being carried on by the RX. Toyota premium brand new vehicles are a more solemn and elegant point, and this NX is no exception, all while preserving numerous angular and sharp lines, as well as the roof's fall in its rear section.
The front grille is more generous and vertical, the hood is slightly longer and more extended, and the front light groups with standard LED technology are no longer divided and the rear ones are joined together, though they retain the house's trademark L-shaped light signature. It is now finished off with the legend "Lexus" on a more sober gate that is attached to the 20-inch wheels of our test unit -Luxury finish and 235/50 R20 tires- and the wide wheel arches There is little doubt that we are witnessing a positive aesthetic growth based on a solid foundation.
As a result, the dimensions do not differ significantly, and we are talking about a new generation NX, which is organized on a recently developed chassis: the GA-K platform. It is just 5 centimeters higher, 2 centimeters longer, and 2 centimeters broader than its predecessor, with a 3-centimeter increase in wheelbase. The suspension is McPherson at the front and double wishbones at the rear, but the main benefits of this new mechanical foundation are two: compatibility with the Lexus Safety System+, a package of unprecedented driving assistants for the brand, and the option of having plug-in hybrid mechanics with an all-wheel drive system. But, before I put both to the test, let's have a look inside.
Lexus: you breathe quality
A classic-style handle with touch control allows us to open the doors of our NX 450h+ and enter a cabin that oozes excellence on all four sides. Ample seats upholstered in perforated leather wonderfully cradle both my body and that of my partner, and from them, we keep a very loose separation, almost more characteristic of excellent category SUVs than sector C. Because it is actually tall, the driving posture will be even more appealing to most buyers shopping for a car of this sort. You have the impression that you are regulating the road and doing it from a type of spacecraft because of such a deployment! The dashboard and the center screen are combined into a single component that is raised and has a slightly curved surface that is aimed toward the driver.
Beyond the futuristic aesthetic that it imparts to the interior, the solution convinces me because it allows you to keep your eyes on the road while operating the infotainment equipment and finding the data you're looking for from the trip computer because the controls have a quick and easy reading, almost as much as the latest generation head-up display that also equipped our test unit. The air conditioning wheels, which are flawlessly integrated owing to their glass surface, are yet another obvious illustration of how Lexus emphasizes ergonomics and convenience of use in the day-to-day operation of its vehicles over the trendy technological elements. That does not imply that you will discover an ambient lighting system with up to 64 color options or the previously stated door opening system known as E-Latch, which will ensure that no one runs away from you if you do not know it.
On the other hand, it rides nicely in the back, particularly in the two side seats, as is typical in this sector. The height level is more generous than it appears, and because the back of these chairs reclines, even the tallest people will not have difficulty. Of course, the middle square is relatively limited, and not only in terms of breadth, but both the front chairs and the central cabinet take up significant leg room. In exchange, we have enough ventilation, alternative entrances, hand grips, and lights.
What about the trunk, you may wonder? I have fantastic news because it not only provides good access but also regular forms and others. It also has a spacious and attention-grabbing volume of 545 liters in this 450h+ plug-in hybrid variant over the regular one without PHEV or 4x4 system. Yes, the loading mouth is higher than I would like, and if you carry the wires on your back, you will lose some room along the road, but that is already in your hands.
Has more spark
On the road, the Lexus NX 450h+ delivers a smooth, polished, and progressive ride, but you can tell right away that this version has an ace up its sleeve. The steering is gentle in the city but becomes stronger as we accelerate, and the suspension does not reduce confidence. The NX's tread is superb, and the same suspension that filters potholes and road irregularities well is enough and more than enough to restrict body motions in cornering zones, and the soundproofing is excellent.
When pushed to its maximum, everything revolves around the new batch plug-in hybrid system, which combines a 2.5-liter gasoline engine with an Atkinson cycle with two electric motors, one on each axle, to produce 309 horsepower. This is the distinguishing feature of the Lexus NX as compared to previous hybrid SUVs, such as its predecessor, but also to virtually all of its competitors today. Why? Fundamentally, because we are dealing with one of the rare PHEVs that uses minimal gasoline even when its batteries are down. Furthermore, the advantages of this NX 450h + are excellent.
It accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.3 seconds and has a peak speed of 200 km/h thanks to its complete traction and progressive power delivery to the ground. When we combine this with a 76-kilometer range in electric mode, the average consumption of 1.1 liters per 100 km, and CO2 emissions of less than 25 gr/km -all of which are homologated in the WLTP cycle- it is clear that we are dealing with a vehicle designed to be extremely efficient, but I was aiming for you, so let's see how these figures translate into sensations behind the wheel.
The Lexus NX450h+ battery is lithium-ion, with a capacity of 18.1 kWh and a power rating of 6.6 kW. In other words, it isn't the most competent, or the one that recharges first, or anything like that, because you don't need it either. This NX allows you to drive up to 135 km/h in 100% electric mode, go more than 70 kilometers in real-world mode, and have an energy cost of less than 19 kWh while in 100% electric mode. The greatest part is that at the conclusion of its 100% electric autonomy, this almost two-tonne SUV revealed a diesel consumption of 5.8 gallons per 100 kilometers in our regular test section. Yes, I'm always relatively contained with the accelerator.
The 450h+ may operate in electric mode, hybrid mode (combining its engines for increased efficiency), or 'battery charge' mode (putting the gasoline block to generate energy for the batteries). Furthermore, these are paired with the standard Eco, Normal, and Sport settings, which alter throttle response, climate control intensity, and gear shift management. The NX shines out in all of them for its mechanical elegance as well as a more satisfying throttle response than expected. In this regard, the larger worldwide power of the set 309 CV is felt strongly, which reduces the sliding impact of the CVT shift, which remains the same as in the rest of the Toyota group cars.
To all of these enhancements, we must add another feature that increases the NX's driving pleasure: the enhancement of its driving aides. We were able to test the adaptive cruise control, lane keeping, and traffic signal aid, as well as the pre-collision system, which now assesses the risks of an accident while turning at a junction, in this Luxury version, the highest in the range to yet. They are unquestionably less obtrusive, and the alarms are really intelligent.
Get out the calculator
The tested version's tariff price commands respect and warrants the quotation marks in the title "you can" purchase yourself. We're talking about 76,500 euros, which are, of course, out of reach for most people and represent a world apart from the 49,500 that one of the new NX's entry-level models, the Business 350h 2WD, costs. Furthermore, an Audi Q5 Sportback S line 50 TFSIe Quattro-ultra S Tronic with comparable power and performance starts at 70,990 euros, the BMW X3 xDrive30e xLine starts at 66,850 euros, and the Jaguar F-PACE 2.0 PHEV AWD is somewhat more costly at 77,500 euros and has 404 horsepower! Is this justified? It has, without a question.
The NX is the only car in its class with a trim level that offers almost all options as standard. From the aforementioned driving aides to the infotainment system with a 14-inch central screen, the Mark Levinson audio system with 17 speakers, the Head-Up Display, the navigation, the 20-inch wheels with run-flat tires... Except for the metallic paint, everything is included. So, sure, it is pricey, but not as much as it appears.