Lexus NX Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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Sunday 1st October


What is it like to drive?

The NX does a solid job of what it’s set out to do. It’s a ‘luxury’ car, not a sporty one. The steering is accurate, turn-in is direct and the wheel is well weighted, if a bit numb. The car goes reliably through corners. What more could you want or expect from a family SUV? Most versions have an extra electric motor for the rear axle, so you won't want for traction.

The ride is mostly fine, smothering the worst of the road’s excesses, although at times you feel the wheels shuddering up and down. The seats too contribute to the feeling of comfort – up front in particular there’s an enveloping squish that still gives you the support you want and plenty of adjustment for lumbar whatnots. Citroen could get a few points here, we think.

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What’s the hybrid system like?

Lexus and Toyota are the pros when it comes to hybrid – the company is on to its fourth generation system already, while other companies are just dipping their toes in the water.

The 350h is Toyota's familiar system, albeit developed. A non-turbo 2.5-litre engine drives through a twin-motor epicyclic power-split device, which gives a feeling resembling a CVT. In gentle driving it's wonderfully quiet and smooth. After all, even in the non-plug-in version, you'll find the engine is completely shut off for about half the time (but of course not half the miles) in urban driving. The trip computer has a special readout to tell you so.

Any faults?

The problem is on twisting roads or roundabouts, when the engine revs rise and fall with every little movement of your foot on the throttle, telling all the passengers what you're up to. And it's a rattly kind of noise too, with a disappointing degree of resonance being transmitted through the steering wheel. Put your foot down for a regular overtake in the NX and it feels like you're thrashing the poor thing. It's not at all a 'premium' experience. This becomes a substantial disincentive to enjoying the perfectly adequate (for a crossover) handling. It also drones on motorways.

New to the NX is a plug-in hybrid, called 450h+. It swaps the small hybrid battery for a solid 18kWh unit. That's enough for a decent commuting range without troubling the engine. But when the engine starts, it behaves and sounds like it does in the 350h.

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The car has a 6.6kW onboard charger, which will get you topped up from empty in about 2.5 hours. The NX PHEV is rated for towing up to 1,500kg too, which is nice.

Better yet, while most PHEVs are pretty uneconomical when the battery is flat, this one still operates as one of Toyota's normal full-hybrids, so it's still impressively economical after you've outlasted the all-electric range.

Highlights from the range

the fastest

Lexus NX 450h+ 2.5 5dr E-CVT [Premium Pack]
  • 0-626.3s
  • CO2
  • BHP306
  • MPG
  • Price£48,745

the cheapest

Lexus NX 350h 2.5 5dr E-CVT [Premium Pack] 2WD
  • 0-62
  • CO2
  • BHP242
  • MPG
  • Price£39,025
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