Chris Miller road tests and reviews the 2014 Lexus NX 300h.
Lexus have finally come to the small SUV party with the all-new NX…a car with polarising looks, cutting-edge tech and a frugal hybrid drivetrain.
New in every way, the 2014 Lexus NX 300h showcases some great in car innovations like automatic folding rear seats and a wireless phone charger built in to the centre console.
Brilliantly packaged, Lexus have found acres of interior space in a compact body that is easy to manoeuvre around town.
While there are plenty of highlights, unfortunately there are some short comings, particularly in regard to the ride and the uninspiring drivetrain.
Prices for the base two-wheel drive Luxury version kick off at $55,000 and prices stretch all the way to $75,000 for the model I tested, the all-wheel drive Sports Luxury; which also gets the F-Sport package including the distinct “spindle” grill that always seems to evoke a love or hate response.
On the road the little hybrid Lexus SUV displays a jittery unsettled ride that doesn’t particularly inspire confidence. Although the cabin is whisper quiet, potholes, even small ones, can disturb the cabin and disrupt the composure of the high-riding, shortish wheelbase of the Lexus.
It’s not the most exciting handler with plenty of body roll evident with quick changes of direction and there’s an understeer protest when approaching any corner with pace.
The Lexus NX is only available at this stage as a hybrid: a 2.5 litre 4-cylinder Atkinson cycle petrol engine paired with an electric motor (or two electric motors in the all-wheel drive variants) and mated to a CVT Auto.
The whole package is good for 147kW while only emitting only 131g of CO2 per kilometre. Economy is a real highlight with average consumption hovering around 6.2 litres of unleaded per 100km – very close to the official Lexus figure of 5.6 litres per 100km.
At 1895kg there is a lot to haul around and the hybrid drivetrain can sometimes feel a little lacking in the power stakes, but at freeway speeds and around town in day to day situations it is more than adequate.
The soundtrack of the petrol/electric combo isn’t anything to get excited about; in fact it is more reminiscent of an electrical appliance than a luxury car.
The tech inside the 2014 Lexus NX 300h however is something to get excited about. It’s a very busy interior but logical and intuitive.
With a great mix of analogue & digital readouts (that constantly change depending on whether you are in Eco Mode, Normal Mode, Sport Mode or Sports Plus), and a myriad of settings that you can easily tailor to suit yourself, the Lexus feels like your own very personal and very unique cockpit.
Like most Lexus models there are plenty of standard inclusions.
The base Luxury model features satellite navigation, reverse camera and parking sonar, power rear tailgate, heated front seats with eight-way power adjustment, LED low beam headlamps and fog lamps, rain-sensing wipers, 18-inch alloy wheels, push button Start, 10-speaker audio with dual USB inputs, DAB+ and Bluetooth, tyre pressure warning sensors, power steering column adjust and an electric park brake.
The top of line Sport Luxury version of the Lexus NX 300h also gets the pre-collision safety system, all-speed active cruise control, adaptive variable suspension, 360-degree panoramic view monitor wireless induction charger, blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert Lane Departure Warning.
The flagship model also boasts a full-colour head-up display, Mark Levinson 14-speaker premium audio, LED headlamps with auto high beam, heated and cooled front seats with driver memory, smart key card and a moon roof.
The Lexus is laden with high tech equipment, has an unmistakable look and has the thirst of a church mouse at the petrol pump. It’s also sharply priced in comparison with its Euro counterparts, most of which head north of $100k when optioned up with the same equipment.
Sure the drive isn’t as satisfying as the Euro’s and there is a little room for improvement when it comes to power and dynamics, but overall the 2014 Lexus NX 300h is a likeable car with many great attributes…whether it’ll be the success that Lexus hope it will be remains to be seen.
NUTS and BOLTS – 2014 Lexus NX 300h
Engine: 2.5 litre petrol/electric hybrid producing 147kW and 210Nm
Transmission: CVT automatic (only)
Safety: Not tested
Price: From $55,000