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First Drive

First Drive: LEXUS NX450h+

LEXUS NX450H+ PREMIUM PLUS PACK
The story: The NX is Lexus’s biggest-selling model in the UK and Europe, and the all-new version of the mid-sized SUV now gets a plug-in hybrid powertrain with an EV range of over 40 miles for lower BiK tax.
Category:Premium SUV
Key rival:Audi Q3
Price:£53,400
Efficiency:256.8mpg
Emissions:26g/km
On sale:January 2022

The new Lexus NX is a big renewal of the Japanese premium brand’s mid-sized SUV. According to Lexus, 95% of parts are new.

There’s also a PHEV powertrain for the first time in a Lexus, with a system very closely related to that already installed in the Toyota RAV4. It offers a tax-busting 42-mile official EV-only range, giving the NX a handy BiK position in the 7% tax band for this year, and 8% for 2022/23.

The PHEV, which will get a 244hp regular hybrid sibling next year, has a total of 305hp from its combination of 2.5-litre petrol engine and electric motor. It can get from 0-62mph in 6.3 seconds.

Lexus says the new NX is more aggressively styled to reflect agility and dynamism, and it is also the first model to feature the full Lexus name across the tailgate, rather than on a small badge.

The cabin gets a big and very welcome change with the adoption of a new touchscreen infotainment system in place of the previous touchpad system, which was borderline unusable on the move. The screen is available in 9.8 or, as driven here, 14.0-inch sizes, and is a huge improvement. The only drawback is the lack of a ‘home’ button that would negate the need to work through the Apple CarPlay screens to get back to the main system. It’s also the first Lexus to be fitted with technology that can be updated over the air.

Internal stowage is good, and rear space isn’t bad; credit is due for the large space under the front seats that rear passengers can slide their feet into.

Overall, the cabin feels a little cosy, a feeling created at least in part by the high window line, narrow rear window and very chunky rear pillar that doesn’t help over-the-shoulder visibility. The boot also feels smaller than the 545-litre official figure would have you believe.

The driving experience, not traditionally a Lexus forte, is much improved. The powertrain has a great delivery, flicking well between petrol and electric, although there is still a bit of a din under hard acceleration and a degree of road noise. The steering feels direct and responsive in a way Lexus doesn’t  usually achieve.

Paul Barker

 

Green Focus On: Lexus

The verdict

The new NX stacks up on paper and as an ownership proposition, with the new infotainment system and driving experience both huge steps forward.