What is it?
Lexus’ 4th offering in the Indian market, first Hybrid in the mid-size crossover segment.
How does it look like?
In a word- Fresh. The NX offers that dose of freshness that was highly needed in this German-dominated segment. The front-end looks very aggressive and modern – thanks to the ‘boomerang’ like DRLs coupled with some sharp LED headlamps. Lexus family grille adds to the overall flavour with some chrome inserts and as I mentioned a couple of lines above- it is a neat departure from it’s German rivals, aesthetically. Move over to the sides and you are bound to realise that the roofline slopes down towards the rear- making you realise that it isn’t a full size SUV. The ORVM’s get a nice dash of chrome (something that our country loves) and the blacked out 18-inch alloys look the part. The back again with slightly blacked out tail lights adds to the overall character of the NX- the overall slingback design is carried forward here too.
How about the interiors?
The same freshness has been carried forward to the interiors as well. First up, you are most likely to appreciate the infotainment unit which sports a nice widescreen 10.3-inch display which can be used with the joystick present below the gearbox. You can navigate through all the menus(though it takes a bit of time getting used to it) and it even supports like pinch to zoom for the maps. Next up, the heads-up display is one of the best I’ve seen in a car priced south of Rs. 1 Cr. It’s aptly bright and offers just the right amount of information that one needs to know without taking them eyes of the road.
It sadly misses out on Google Play or Android Auto but you can cast your phone on the screen using MiraCast. This screen also doubles as a display or the dynamic reversing camera as well as the incredible 3D 360-degree panoramic camera. Another really noteworthy bit here inside the cabin is the 14-speaker Mark Levinson setup- it sounds incredible and can surely satisfy the audiophile inside you. The seats offer nice cushioning and all-around support and can be heated or cooled according to your need, the latter being a boon in our climatic conditions. You can also drop and fold the rear seats using a button below the steering wheel which can be a fun party trick but I could never really understand the utility of the same.
How does it perform?
Under the hood of the NX300h is a 2.5-litre petrol motor which is paired up with a 205 cell NiMH battery. This is a similar hybrid setup as the es300h and the Toyota Camry Hybrid. Surprisingly, power output in the NX300h stands lower than these two sedans at 197PS of peak power and 210Nm of max torque.
You start off most of the times using only the electric motor in pure EV mode. A sign on the left-hand side of the instrument cluster signifies that. The petrol motor kicks in at around 10-15kmph(very silently though) and you can also drive it in pure EV mode for a few kms, provided you have enough charge in the batteries.
The ride offers a decent balance between comfort and sportiness. The hybrid motor has been tuned and feels best at home at city speeds, sudden acceleration or posting fancy quarter mile timings isn’t the main forte of the NX and it even has no intentions to do so. Zero to hundred kmph run is achieved in about 9 seconds and the car maxes out at around 180kmph. The gearbox, in my opinion, is a bit of a letdown- it is an e-cvt unit and you just cannot help but notice the typical rubber-band effect that CVT boxes are known for. With all the fancy gadgetry a hybrid tech on board- the NX is not a ‘light’ car by any means and you do tend to feel all of its weight when you are pushing it hard into a corner. Again, as mentioned above, the NX feels best at home when you are strolling around at city speeds or cruising at early three digit figures on the highway. You get different driving modes too – Eco, Normal, Sport, Sport + and EV. Normal and Eco modes try to get you the best of kmpl from every little drop of fuel and once you engage Sport+ , the batteries and the petrol motor both work in tandem to power the wheels, which you can literally see in the ‘energy monitor’ display on the infotainment unit.
Shall I buy one?
Freshness– if that is the thing that you are looking for in your new car, getting the NX300h makes a lot of sense. Having said that, there is some really stiff competition from the Audi Q5 and the Volvo XC 60 which are more dynamic and fun to drive. But if you reflect back to the first word of this review and this paragraph, yes that, the NX300h will make sure will break the German- Brit clutter in pure style!
Price – 53,18,000 (Ex-Showroom)
Engine- 2.5-litre Petrol Motor + 205 cell NiMH battery
Combined Power- 194bhp ; Combined Torque – 210NM
Transmission – E-CVT, AWD
Acceleration – 0-100 kmph – 9.2 seconds ; Top Speed- 180kmph