Lexus NX300h F Sport

HYBRID cars got edgy with the launch of the Lexus NX300h late last year.

Lexus NX300h F Sport

Engine: 2,494cc, four-cylinder petrol and twin electric motors

Power: 195bhp and 152lb.ft. of torque

Performance: 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds and 112mph

Economy: 54.3mpg (combined)

CO2 emissions: 121g/km

Price: £38,095

Lexus proved that it has well and truly brushed-off a reputation for building cars driven by the kind of people who like to stick a vintage RAC plaque on the grille and a straw Trilby on the back shelf with a couple of scatter cushions.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

When the hard-edged LF-NX concept broke cover at the Frankfurt Motorshow of 2012 it looked more likely that you’d find Darth Vader’s light saber rolling around back there and the asthmatic sci-fi super-villain sat behind the wheel.

Following hot on the heels of the striking GS and LS saloons, the NX SUV has completed the transformation of Lexus’ styling with an angular aplomb.

Tested here in its most dynamic guise — £38,095 NX 300h F Sport — its space-age styling is at its most impressive.

Privacy glass, a gloss black finish to Lexus’ spindle grille and 18 inch alloys all add to tall, muscular rear end and riot of creases, convex and concave surfaces to create some dramatic visuals.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

And Lexus’ energy-efficient LED lights are part of the drama, each headlamp cluster housing six high-brightness LEDs with an additional 23 LEDs in the hockey stick-shaped daytime running lights and 16 in each turn indicator.

Five NX’s are available (S, SE, Luxury, Premier) with prices ranging from £29,495, but all come with the 300h hybrid drivetrain until the arrival of the NX200t in mid-March with its 235bhp two-litre turbocharged petrol.

The NX300h combines a 2.5-litre four-pot petrol engine, electric motor and E-CVT automatic transmission to generate 195bhp.

A run to 62mph will take 9.2 seconds and a 112mph top speed is claimed by Lexus, making it slower than key diesel-engined rivals from Audi and BMW.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It counters with 121g/km CO2 emissions — making the NX300h a gift for tax-conscious company car owners — and claimed fuel economy of 54.3mpg at the cheaper, green pump.

But these stats are bettered by the Volvo XC60 Drive-E, which boasts 64.2mpg and 117g/km along with an 8.5 nought to 62mph time and 130mph top speed.

As standard the F Sport comes with performance suspension dampers to add some dynamic appeal and my test car was fitted with optional (£750) Adaptive Variable Suspension which adapts in as little as 20 milliseconds to driving style and road surface.

From the outset the NX’s suspension boasts a compliant primary ride but a firm and decisive control thereafter.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Smaller bumps are neatly absorbed, therefore, but larger road imperfections and pot holes can provoke a clunk through the cabin.

Such instances are perhaps only made more noticeable by the whispery silence of the drivetrain and refined interior.

Generally, the NX exhibits strong road-holding and corners with minimal lean.

It does, however, favour an understeering balance.

The F Sport comes with the E-Four system which employs a second electric motor to metre power between the rear wheels in addition to one at the front axle.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Fast getaway’s did illicit a slight scrabble but much of the time the NX handled like a front-wheel-drive car with impressive traction.

Acceleration was extremely smooth, too, the CVT gearbox working the engine hard and noisily under hard acceleration but proving refined at a cruise.

Transitions between the combustion engine and electric motor were barely noticeable.

Drive Mode Select allows the driver to tailor the car’s responses through Eco, Normal, Sport and Sport+ settings and the variations are marked.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Eco numbs the car to a near-frustrating degree. In Sport, however, the NX300h’s performance feels on-par with that of a gutsy turbodiesel.

Following recent experience of Lexus’ GS and LS I was a little underwhelmed with the NX’s interior.

Dramatic shapes and a jutting dash stay loyal to the exterior’s styling, but there didn’t seem to boast the same quality as its two siblings.

Too much of the titanium-coloured brightwork felt plasticky and, despite the ample leather trim, there was a slight lack of tactility that set it behind its German rivals.

Technology abounds, however.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Colour displays on the dash top and instrument cluster provide sat-nav, Bluetooth connectivity, a rear parking monitor, real-time drivetrain monitoring, access to a 835 watt Mark Levinson Premium Sound System and even and even a G-force meter.

Dials adapt in-line with the Drive Mode Select system, denoting power output and regeneration in a blue hue until Sport modes turn the colour scheme red and switch the dial’s function to that of a tachometer.

And innovation resides between the two front seats where a wireless phone charger — the functionality of which is dictated by your phone — and a touch pad controller for the infotainment system’s functions reside.

Adaptive Cruise Control, keyless entry and engine starting and blind spot assistance are also standard fayre.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Before motorists even learn of the NX300h’s hybrid drivetrain, many will love its individual and dramatic styling.

It turns more heads than anything else in its class.

Ultimately, rivals offering more tactile interiors and outright performance may still appeal to the masses more, but there is no doubting that Lexus has tapped into something special with its styling direction from the dark side.


Related topics: