There was much excitement at THEGAYUK headquarters with the arrival of the new Lexus NX. A car I had been looking forward to reviewing ever since I had a play in the bigger RX.
The adverts interspersed in between my favourite Channel 4 drama, Humans further heightened thus feeling. Sadly like a domestic synth, it left me feeling a little cold.
Dynamically it is a marvel. A true powerhouse of an SUV this time living up to the Sport in the title. You can hustle it along the road and it will reward you with as much grip as you could wish for in an SUV while also remaining poised and neutral. Unlike the bigger RX, the NX doesn’t lean into corners. Sitting high up it also didn’t throw you off your senses. I was sure all SUV’s should be like this or so I thought.
The steering was nicely weighted. When overriding the CVT gearbox with manual inputs the gear changes were smooth. Only when pressed hard, the CVT gearbox would show its one true weakness inherent in these systems and that was high revs, a lot of noise and a sense of not a lot happening propulsion-wise. That said, most of the time the intrusion was minimal because it got to where you needed it to very quickly.
Speaking of quickly it belies its 0-60 time of 9.2 seconds. Pulling out in traffic it could be frighteningly rapid with wheel spin curtailed by the traction control system. The accelerator pedal did exactly what you wanted it to.
However, there are faults aplenty in this £34,000 machine. For a start, the spec sheet looks a little lame compared to the bigger RX model and others within this SUV segment.
There were no parking sensors fitted.
For something so big, so premium and with many gadgets, the lack of these is a fundamental flaw. Having them as an added accessory for £800 was a bit of an insult.
That said, they are well worth it, if a little expensive. The front and rear extremities are very difficult to judge. While you should be able to park a car you own, the sensors do make it a touch easier. The reverse camera helps but it doesn’t show where the bulbous curves of the rear wheel arches are in the dark.
It was delivered to me with just 40 miles on the clock. It was at 70 miles old that I almost added the first dent while reversing into my drive!
There is also the absence of the Lexus touch and that is the retracting steering wheel. Many Lexus models I have tried over the years have had this. It is a bit gimmicky I know but I look at it as a Lexus signature piece. It’s a bit like the electric windows that slow just moments before they shut to reduce noise.
These add up to make a Lexus more than a dressed up Toyota.
Living with the NX is a bit hit and miss too. The boot is a good size. Very easy to load things into and all the space is available. However, the rear door doesn’t rise high enough for me. That was the miss. Or not as it proved when I clonked my head against it.
The hit is that it is quite a vehicle. Over its RX sibling, the NX can be hustled around with great ease. The road manners retain a squat feel when hard cornering or taking S bends at rapid speed. It shouldn’t really feel like it should behave in this kind of way.
Four up and in a hurry, no one said slow down. The only thing that lets it down when going fast is that CVT gearbox. It doesn’t really make the best of the engine’s torque. Revs stay high up at and the engine screams. It doesn’t pay to keep your foot planted into the carpet if it isn’t necessary. The engine is too vocal without sounding sexy. The V6 of the RX is far better.
Again this gearbox system, that I am not a real fan of, ruins the fine ambience of luxury. Thankfully you can override the gearing and I found selecting 4th, 5th and 6th gear made it far more pleasurable to the ears while not leaving it vulnerable when pulling out in city traffic and rush hour madness to getting in the way of other traffic.
The hybrid system on the NX is in keeping with the Lexus brand and used as a supplementary system only using it for brief periods or in slow traffic. Most of the time it goes into petrol mode. This didn’t really damage the impressive fuel figures Lexus state or what were achievable in the real world.
The fit and finish in the NX are above and beyond what you would expect. It was all nicely wrapped up and made to make you feel like you have spent your money wisely. I just can’t get over the missing pieces in the spec sheet.
It all adds up to an expensive car. As a proposition, I have to say that for the money the more expensive Audi Q7 is far better value even without the bonus of a hybrid system. It has more kit on it. And at £17000 less than the Lexus RX450h I tested.
I am inclined to say beg steal or borrow the extra and buy the RX. And then there is Toyota’s C-HR that is some £5k cheaper. Now that is a strong contender to consider even if it is in a class lower. It’s where I would be looking.
Lack of equipment
Car – Lexus NX300 h Sport
Price – £34,640 (as tested)
MPG – 54.3mpg (combined)
Power – 115bhp @ 5700rpm petrol (bhp 197 for electric motors)
0-62mph – 9.2 seconds
Top Speed – 112 mph
Co2 – 121(g/km)
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