The new Lexus NX.
The new Lexus NX.

2014 Lexus NX 300h road test | Loved-up fans start queuing

HEARTS are fluttering in Lexus dealerships across the nation. It was love at first sight when the concept was first unveiled and now this NX SUV is about start building new relationships.

Early buyer interest shows 80% are new to the brand and more than 400 pre orders were taken after some demonstrator models toured the country last month.

Prices start from $55,000 and each NX comes packed with good features.

For now the NX is only available with a hybrid drivetrain, but next year it will touch down with a 2.0-litre turbo which will add some extra pizzazz to this attractive new package.

Comfort

Cockpit interior styling and a range of new features make this a stand-out from the Lexus range.
Interesting angles capture your attention, with the colour screen atop the metallic silver lined centre stack taking pride of place.

There's a new mouse-style operation too, with a touch-pad instead of a controller. Trace over the pad with yoru finger and the a cursor follows.

The 2014 Lexus NX 300h Sports Luxury.
The 2014 Lexus NX 300h Sports Luxury.

Soft-touch NuLuxe-trimmed seats may not be real leather, but most would struggle to pick the difference due to its supple feel. The pews feel lovely once you park your rear end, while equally impressive is the back seat.

Three adults can fit across the rear bench, although two is a perfect fit and with reclining functions it makes the NX an outstanding chariot begging for road trips.

Operationally it's intuitive with well labelled buttons and dials with nothing requiring too much analysis.

On the road

Serene and hushed, Lexus do an enviable ride quality job.

On good roads you barely hear a noise as the SUV irons out imperfections.

This is a tried and trusted hybrid drivetrain combination, which does a serviceable job. Stamp your foot and the engine/electric motor partnership with the continuously variable transmission tends to flare with limited acceleration, but things quickly catch up and the NX answers the call.

On some challenging twisty stuff it felt responsive on turn-in and confident in the bends, although falls short of being dynamic. We expect the 2.0-litre variant to fill this void.

Still no hack, the NX 300h is an easy drive and adept in all cases, interestingly the Lexus IS sedan was used as one of the benchmarks for performance and it certainly feels more car-like than SUV. with limited body roll and a planted confidence in the bends.

What do you get?

Lexus trumpets the standard kit for good reason. From the base model you get features like sat nav, parking sensors front and back with a reversing camera, power tailgate, heated front seats with eight-way electric adjustment for the driver, cruise control, automatic lights, 10-speaker stereo with USB input, digital radio as well as Bluetooth audio and phone connectivity.

F Sport adds good safety kit like 360-degree panoramic monitor, blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, rain-sensing wipers, all-LED headlamps, Adaptive Variable Suspension, wireless phone charger (for Qi enabled phones), 10-way adjustable power front seats with driver memory, heated and cooled front seats, 18-inch alloys, unique exterior and interior styling, leather trim along with front and rear performance dampers.

Two enhancement packages are available, one includes a sunroof and the 14-speaker Mark Levinson Audio system.
The second features Pre-Collision Safety system, radar cruise control, lane departure warning, heads-up display, auto high beam, smart card key, sunroof and Mark Levinson audio.

Sports Luxury models have power 60:40 rear-fold seat, PCS, all-speed active cruise control, lane departure warning, head-up display, all-LED headlamps with auto high beam, smart card key, moon roof and the Mark Levinson audio system.

Running costs

The official figure has the NX300h achieving less than six litres for every 100km, but we couldn't return much better than 10. on our trip.

Quality and longevity are hallmarks of Lexus, and early indications are that the NX is no different. The near silent ride is testament to build quality.

Luxury marques are yet to embrace capped price servicing, although Lexus is cheaper than the Europeans.

Practicality

Two large cup holders are in the middle console, another two fold out in classy fashion from the fold-down arm rest in the back, and there are bottle holders in each door.

Pop the automatic tailgate and there is excellent boot space, 475 litres (easily enough space for a couple of large suitcases) with the rear seats up and 1520L when they fold 60-40.

Funky factor

Bold and expressive, the jury was still out on the NX's design. Looking purposeful and strong, its back end is particularly alluring with flared rear guards and lovely proportions, although the front appears to have received too much attention and which some believe to be over-styled - but perspectives can change depending on which one of the 10 colour schemes are chosen.

The lowdown

Pricing, looks and the features list sell the NX alone. No wonder there is a queue forming.
Value and prestige comes in spades here and it's certainly a car which has a broad appeal - offering a commanding driving position loved by families along with ease of entry and exit.

Feeling adept in the corners and accomplished on the highway, the NX 300h excels is the key luxury areas.

What matters most

What we liked: Hushed ride, interior space and rear seat comfort, standard features list, price, panoramic cameras great for parking.

What we'd like to see: Further sporting enhancement of the hybrid drivetrain, dial operation of main computer system instead of mouse style functionality.

Warranty: Four-year/100,000km warranty (eight year battery warranty) with roadside assist. Lexus also gives you a loan car during servicing as part of the complimentary Encore Privileges program.

VITAL STATISTICS

Model: Lexus NX300h.

Details: Five-door mid-size two and all-wheel drive sports utility vehicle.

Engine: 2.5-litre Atkinson cycle four-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 114kW @ 5700rpm and peak torque of 210Nm @ 4200-4400rpm, and an 105kW (147kW combined) and 270Nm electric motor with nickel metal hydride battery.

Transmission: Continuously variable automatic.

Consumption: 5.6 litres/100km (2WD, combined average), 5.7L/100km (AWD).

CO2: 131g/km (2WD), 133g/km (4WD).

Performance: 0-100kmh in 9.2 seconds.

Towing capacity: 1000kg.

Bottom line plus on-roads: Luxury $55,000, Luxury AWD $59,500, F-Sport $66,000, Sports Luxury $75,000.



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