The Lexus NX300h is a fashionable, premium machine with a young heart and a green conscience.
THE NX 300H is the newest offering from Lexus, a luxury brand which is known the world over for its customer experience and superlative, premium products. The NX 300h is Lexus’ entry level crossover offering for the Indian market, where the brand has quite a few other more expensive products on offer. The NX in the nomenclature of this cool-looking machine stands for Nimble Crossover, while the h stands for its hybrid drive-train. The NX 300h is positioned as a stylish crossover for a relatively young audience between 30–45 years of age who want a compact, stylish crossover for their everyday commute and the odd weekend getaway. It’s not a full-fledged SUV or a family machine though, and is focused more towards style, character and features.
The funky styling of the NX300h is very edgy and quite different from anything else on the Indian roads. The LED front lighting with automatic levelling, the bold spindle grille and a very idiosyncratic approach to the overall styling makes the NX300h stand out.
The NX 300h is powered by a 2.5 litre engine and a bunch of batteries which get charged during braking or decelerating. The petrol power by itself stands at 153 hp, while the full hybrid system delivers a peak output of 197 hp. Peak torque is rated at 210 Nm. The car does its 0-100 km/h run in around 10 seconds while the fuel efficiency is rated at around 18 kmpl by ARAI.
DID YOU KNOW?
Lexus is a division of Toyota created in 1989 to develop a new premium sedan. It specialises in luxury vehicles.
Now, those numbers aren’t exactly enthralling for a car that breaches the Rs 50 lakh mark for price, though the NX300h compensates for its relative lack of performance with its features packed interior, solid build quality and a long list of creature comforts.
The NX300h is available in two trims – Luxury and F-Sport. While the Luxury variant gets a grille with vertical slats, chrome accents, and a relatively less aggressive bumper at the lower end, the F-Sport version gets a honeycomb mesh for the grille, flared lower wings for the bumper and a different set of alloys as well. There are some differences inside the cabin as well, though overall the two variants are closely matched in terms of the equipment, performance and to a large extent in terms of styling as well. The F-Sport, though, is the more expensive variant of the two.
Key features on the NX 300h include a high quality Mark Levinson audio, heated and ventilated seats, heated steering, HUD, a single piece panoramic sunroof, reclining rear seats with heating function, trackpad for browsing the central screen, and top notch safety including eight airbags.
The car rides and handles well, thanks to its adaptive damping feature, with decent performance, although it’s not too sportily oriented and not meant for an out-and-out driving enthusiast. The performance off the block is good, although the petrol engine on this car in not a very high revving unit and is oriented more towards delivering a good low and mid range punch. That engine character makes the NX300h a fabulous car to potter around within the city what with its smooth e-CVT transmission and torque-rich hybrid power-train.
However, try playing rough with this one, and its limited ability comes to the fore where its acceleration and involvement from a driver’s perspective isn’t too great to write home about. With its luxurious, well-insulated cabin and tons of creature comforts, the NX300h is best driven in a relaxed manner, where it delights with its smoothness and refinement. The F-sport variant, however, comes with a cool trick where an artificial engine noise in channelled through the speakers to add some aural theatrics to the act.
Lexus NX300h Luxury: Rs 53.18 lakh
Lexus NX300h F-Sport: Rs 55.58 lakh
Powetrain: 2.5-litre, petrol electric hybrid
Power: 197 hp
Torque: 210 Nm
0-100 km/h: 9.1 seconds
Top Speed: 180 km/h
Inside the cabin, the dashboard gets a layered design and the overall feel is as edgy and funky as the exterior. The quality of the materials and the way everything is put together is top-notch, although the sheer number of buttons on that dashboard may intimidate a few amongst us. The colours and varieties of materials on the inside vary based on the trim level you’ve opted for, although the quality is consistent across the whole gamut of options. Having said that, some parts of the switchgear and a few other bits are shared with Toyota cars (Lexus being a Toyota brand), and do not match the exemplary quality exhibited by the rest of the cabin.
While the quality of materials and features inside are top notch, the same could not be said about the cabin space. The headroom at the rear is quite limited, and those with a height above 5’ 10” would find their heads brushing against the roof. The legroom is decent, though it isn’t too generous. What counters that relative lack of space in the big single piece panoramic sunroof, and endows the cabin with a feeling of airiness opening up the skies for the occupants, and elevating the premium feel of the cabin by several notches.
As the case with the cabin, the boot space isn’t too generous either. The NX300h comes with a full sized spare, which is a must-have in our opinion for all cars in Indian conditions, though it raises the boot floor significantly, resulting in a rather small boot space for a car this size. In effect, the boot space works for a small weekend getaway for two, but if you wish to take you family out with proper luggage, that space won’t be sufficient.
From an equipment perspective, the car comes loaded with stuff like a head up display, a trackpad with haptic feedback to control the menus on the 10.3 inch central screen, heated steering and front seats, reclining rear seats, wireless mobile charging, paddle shifters, hands-free tailgate opening function, a G-sensor and many more. The 14-speaker Mark Levinson audio system is one of the very best in business and delivers absolutely top notch audio quality.
The car also comes with driving modes which control the engine character, shift points for the transmission, steering weight and suspension stiffness to suit a specific driving style better. The instrument console, for example, by default shows you the charge on the battery and the power being drawn from them. However, as you shift to Sport mode, the digital instrument console turns into a tacho to know the revs you’re doing and helps you drive in a sporty fashion. Being a hybrid, the car also displays whether the batteries are being charged through regenerative braking, or if the power is being drawn out of them when you accelerate hard. The car can also function purely as an EV for short distances, by say, up to one kilometre when the batteries are fully charged and you drive with a very light foot at very slow speeds.
Lexus prides itself for delivering a customer experience unmatched by any other brand, and one has to believe them for their claim as they have been topping the customer satisfaction surveys the world over. Also, the service and spares cost for a Lexus is significantly low as compared to other premium brands from Germany, Sweden or the UK. In essence, buying a Lexus is more about buying a brand experience than just about buying a product, and the company goes out of its way to ensure that it delights each one of its customers, not just with its products, but more so with its service and luxury experience which extends to every aspect of ownership.
At Rs 53.18 lakh (Luxury variant) and `55.58 lakh (F-Sport Variant), the NX300h isn’t exactly a bargain for your money. This isn’t a car for the family guy either, owing to the limited space inside. This one, however, stands out among its peers for its unique styling, hybrid powertrain and an interior which is loaded with features and luxury. So if you’re a 30 or 40 plus guy who wants a car to travel mostly to work, and occasionally for the odd getaway, are very conscious about your image, then this one’s for you.