Originally Written for Destination Luxury, July 2017
Already known the world over as an industry leader in the luxury-utility class, the Lexus NX 300h Hybrid is back for 2017 and boasts more features and refinement than ever. In a category that is becoming increasingly cluttered with various crossover attempts, the team at Lexus have kept their vision clear and delivered yet another aesthetically stunning car that pushes technological innovation to the absolute limits. Step aside clunky and slow; walk on by impractical and over-designed – the NX 300h is here to show us how it’s done. Luxury is going green.
Thanks to its dramatic front grill, swept back LED lighting and sumptuous curves, there is no denying that the Lexus LX is a thing of abject beauty. With its arched back and generous height, the body of the LX is poised not unlike that of an athlete at the starting line of a race. To the rear, a clean-angled tailgate and integrated spoiler only further enhance the athletic appearance. Yet despite this sporty, slightly aggressive stance, fine details such subtle LED exterior lighting reminds you that this is indeed a Lexus at heart.
And at the heart of this athletic being is the world-renowned Lexus Hybrid Drive system, which demonstrates that luxury and utility can most definitely go hand in hand with economy and efficiency. The combination of a 2.5L engine with a small yet high-torque electric motor, working together either independently or in harmony, form a system capable of developing no less than 194bhp. Most impressively, all this is achieved with a fuel economy that can reach 33mpg.
In their quest to minimise any loss of energy at all, the engineers at Lexus have equipped the NX 300h with their latest Regenerative Braking system, meaning that some of the kinetic energy lost whilst braking is converted to electrical energy which can be stored in the on-board battery. In the right conditions, the NX can travel for almost a mile at low speeds using just the electric motor for propulsion – an almost eerily quiet and smooth experience. For those interested in the behind the scenes workings of their car, a 4-inch screen provides a live info-graphic of how power is being generated and distributed throughout the system. This potentially allows the driver to monitor the impact of their driving style to maximise fuel efficiency further.
Feeding this complex propulsion system through to the wheels is an intelligent all-wheel drive (AWD) system which electronically optimises the traction of the rear-wheels using two secondary electric motors. Factor in the rigid body structure and advanced suspension systems, and the ride quality that results is more akin to a sports coupe than a luxury SUV. This feeling is further enhanced by the cockpit design, which is built around the impressive centre console and a wonderful set of instrument dials. Sculpted front seats, touch-controlled lighting and premium trim options remind you that you’re driving a luxury vehicle, despite the overwhelming practicality of the design features.
And that is perhaps where the NX 300h triumphs most of all: It is mind-blowingly practical. The rear trunk features no less than four storage compartments beneath the cargo floor giving plenty of room to store your valuables out of sight. Optional power-assisted folding rear seats make increasing the cargo area as simple as flicking a switch, and the power liftgate ensures loading and unloading is as effortless as possible. Within the cabin, there is no shortage of smart storage solutions for practically anything you can think of. Glove boxes, a large centre console, cup holders and even sun glasses holders are hidden discreetly yet accessibly throughout meaning no more lost accessories. Electronically adjustable steering column and a driver’s seat that adjusts in no less than 10 different ways guarantees the perfect driving position, and dual zone climate control eliminates those ‘too hot/too cold’ battles with the kids, making this the perfect luxury car for trips of any length.
The other item that can be found in abundance within the NX’s cabin is speakers. For some time now, Lexus have been considered industry leaders in delivering top-quality in car audio, and the NX 300h continues this tradition with pride. Bluetooth connectivity comes as standard, and for Apple users, Siri is fully integrated with the multimedia system, allowing you to keep your eyes fully on the road. Running low on battery? Simply pop your device on the wireless charging pad within the centre console to top up your charge without the need for messy cables.
All these features, including the advanced Lexus navigation system with traffic prediction, are controlled through the intuitive 7-inch touch screen. New for 2017, however, is the addition of a small square mouse-pad near the driver’s spare hand which Lexus has dubbed the Remote Touch Interface. In essence, this is just yet another way for either front seat passengers to interact with the vehicle’s systems, which is particularly easy to use for existing smart-phone users.
As you would expect, the NX 300h is also an incredibly safe car to drive, giving peace of mind on those longer journeys with the family. An ultra-stiff steel body structure is complements with no less than 8 SRS airbags throughout the cabin. Intelligent seatbelts lessen the risk of whiplash should a collision occur, and the high-resolution back up camera is there to make reversing a piece of cake. With Lexus’ 72-month warranty, you also have the peace of mind that, should anything go wrong with your pride-and-joy, you will be taken good care of.
Ultimately with the NX 300h, what we are seeing is Lexus doing what they do best. And doing it brilliantly. Unlike many other Luxury Crossover SUVs on the market, the design team at Lexus have looked at what the consumer really wants – no more, no less. With a starting price of just $39,720, what you get is the very essence of practicality, lovingly wrapped in the trademark Lexus luxury trim and delivered with a fuel economy which is truly class-leading. The NX 300h is not just new for 2017, it perhaps defines 2017.