Lexus, through its close family links to Toyota, has form when it comes to the electrification of fossil fuel-powered vehicles.
More than 20 years ago Toyota set its cap to petrol-electric hybrids when it put out the Prius.
The sedan’s asymmetric hybrid fuel saving system became the mainstay of the automobile maker’s electric vehicles, even becoming the powerplant of choice for taxis around the world.
Needless to say, this did not go unnoticed with Toyota’s luxe auto partner Lexus plugging in to the development for its range of saloons and
What’s it cost?
Latest model to take the petrol-electric path is the NX, Toyota’s most popular SUV.
The range consists of the entry-level NX250 petrol FWD, selling for $60,800, plus on road costs, NX350 turbo-petrol, NX350h petrol hybrid and 450h+ AWD plug-in hybrid rounding out the range at $89,900.
NX350h, which looks like being the best seller of the range, is the only variant across all three specification grades – Luxury, F Sport and Sports Luxury.
It is also the only NX offering a choice of front or all-wheel drive.
The Sports Luxury variant, at $77,900, plus ORCs, came our way.
Front and rear tracks have been increased by up to 35mm and 55mm (F Sport) respectively, providing the NX with a powerful presence.
The hallmark spindle grille is now more upright, accentuating the elongated bonnet and improving airflow into the engine compartment.
The grille of the NX 250 and the Luxury and Sports Luxury grades comprises tall U-shaped blocks and replaces its chrome-plated frame with a stronger 3-D look.
Signature L-shaped daytime running lights frame new headlights, aligning with the bonnet’s lines to further emphasise the spindle shape.
F Sport and Sports Luxury grades have standard four-unit low/high-beam structure combining three projector LED modules with the advanced adaptive high-beam system, while fog lights and (on F Sport and Sports Luxury) cornering lights are housed in the lower corners of the front fascia, integrated into the expressive side garnishes, once again giving further depth to the spindle grille.
The rear is distinguished by muscular fenders and new L-shaped LED light clusters with signature blade lighting in a bar that spans the width of the vehicle.
The tailgate has dropped the Lexus stylised ‘L’, replaced by the spaced out ‘L E X U S’ name for a more modern look.
Sports Luxury variants boast 20-inch wheels with a five twin-spoke design complemented by smaller spokes, finished in a premium metallic coating applied after machining.
Run-flat tyres dispense with a spare wheel.
The NX cabin is boosted in F Sport and Sports Luxury by a 14-inch touch-display with satellite navigation, digital instrument cluster and a colour head-up display with steering wheel controls.
Sports Luxury further includes a 17-speaker Mark Levinson premium audio system and a digital rear-view mirror
NX scores a five-star ANCAP rating. From entry level up, Lexus-first technologies including safe exit assist incorporating new e-latch electrically activated door handles, which can detect cyclists or vehicles passing close to the vehicle and can keep the door closed to avoid a collision.
New across-the-range safety technologies include NX-first intersection turn assist and emergency steering assist, plus a pre-collision system with pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection, parking support brake with obstacle and vehicle detection, blind-spot monitor, dynamic radar active cruise control, lane tracing assist and road sign assist.
What’s it go like?
Comprising two permanent magnet synchronous electric motors for AWD versions, a compact and lightweight lithium-ion battery and 140 kW/239Nm 2.5-litre petrol engine, the NX 350h produces a 179kW total system output, making it the most powerful four-cylinder Lexus HEV sold in Australia.
This level of power ensures acceleration from standstill to 100 km/h in 8.7 seconds for front-wheel drive versions and just 7.7 seconds for all-wheel drives.
Inspired by Japanese pen ink, leather-accented trim upholstery and open-pore walnut ornamentation are finished in Sumi Black.
Exclusives include black window surrounds, scuff plates, perforated leather-accented steering wheel and gearshifter, alloy pedals, sports seats, and Hadori aluminium ornamentation.
NX AWD models are offered a $3000 optional Enhancement Pack, which includes a panoramic moonroof – the first time such a roof has been offered on a Lexus NX.
Enhancement Pack 2 for the NX 350h Sports Luxury AWD includes heated steering wheel and rear outboard seats, power-operated folding rear seats and Intelligent Parking Assist.
Before setting off and after parking, it is necessary to grapple with the new e-latch electric door handles, which replace standard versions.
Okay, they help with stopping accidents opening the doors but they take some finding in their ‘hidden’ spots in the doors.
On the upside, the hit-and-miss mouse-style touchpad on the centre console controlling many of the vehicle systems has been replaced by a well-laid out set of knobs and switches.
Cabin space is generous all round. Upfront, driver and passenger can get comfortable thanks power adjustable seats. They’re heated as well.
The back seats take advantage of the extra 20mm in wheelbase. Head room follows suit with no skimping here.
There’s 520 litres of cargo space with all seats in operation, which expands to 1141 litres with the second-row seat backs folded flat.