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Japanese luxury carmaker Lexus seems to be on a roll in India. Just a few months after introducing the RX & LX SUVs and the ES sedan, Lexus is back with the NX, its smallest SUV and most affordable model.
The NX is the newest vehicle in the Lexus stable. First introduced in the form of the LF-NX concept at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show, the Lexus NX SUV entered production a year later in 2014. The mid-life facelift for the Lexus NX 2017 made its bow at the 2017 Shanghai Motor Show and has now come to India.
The NX for India is only available in hybrid guise in the form of the NX 300h. However, Lexus is offering the NX 300h in both Luxury and F-Sport trims.
So does the Lexus NX 300h have what it takes to take on its German rivals like the Mercedes GLC, the BMW X3 and the Audi Q5 in the mid-size luxury SUV market? We got behind the wheel of the Lexus NX 300h F-Sport to find out.
Lexus NX 300h Design, Features & Safety
The design of the Lexus NX 300h, like the rest of the luxury carmaker's range in India, is not for the faint of heart. The Lexus NX 300h looks sharp and futuristic ensuring all eyes are on it, wherever it goes.
The NX 300h F-Sport takes the aggressive looks to a whole new level. Up front, the massive spindle grille features black mesh-like plating on the F-Sport. The grille is flanked on either side by smoky, angular headlamps which feature triple LED projector lights.
The grille is flanked on either side by smoky, angular headlamps which feature triple LED projector lights. The harpoon-shaped DRLs sit directly underneath the headlights. The fog lamps of the NX 300h are placed on either corner of the front bumper above which lie a set of air ducts.
On the sides, a soft belt line runs through the doors to taillights while the roof gently flows into the rear. The auto-folding rear-view mirrors in the F-Sport feature a black paint job. F-Sport badges flank the front wheel arches while the rear doors sport Hybrid badging. The F-Sport variant of the NX 300h rides on 18-inch dual-tone alloy wheels fitted with 225/60 R18 Bridgestones.
The rear end of the Lexus NX features a sharply raked windscreen while the boot lid features a scooped out section for the number plate. However, the real attention grabbers at the rear are the smoky and sharp-looking taillights and the roof spoiler which hosts a large brake light.
The electronically operated tailgate opens up to reveal a rather tiny boot. The reason for the cramped boot is the raised floor under which sits the spare wheel. Also cramping the boot is the presence of the secondary motor that powers the rear wheels.
The Lexus NX 300h carries over its swoopy exterior design to its cabin. Lexus offers a total of 11 different colour customisation options for the NX's interior trim.
The leather lined dashboard flows towards the passengers and is low enough to allow the driver a commanding view of the road ahead. The aluminium inserts provide a high contrast regarding both look and feel, and the dashboard like the rest of the interior feels solidly built.
The front seats of the F-sport are electronically adjustable and provide ample amount of support. However, the F-Sport misses out on the ventilated seats, which are available with the Luxury variant of the NX 350h.
The reclining rear seats on the NX 350h F-Sport are comfortable and offer ample knee and legroom though under-thigh support suffers due to the low-set seating position. However, the headroom at the rear, inconveniences taller passengers, thanks to the sharply raked roofline.
The new Lexus 300h features a 10.3-inch infotainment display which is paired with a 14-speaker Mark Levinson audio system that is an audiophile's dream. In addition to acting as a display for the car's entertainment and inbuilt sat-nav systems, the display is also used by the 360-degree camera system.
The Lexus NX 300h's infotainment system is controlled using a touchpad with haptic feedback, which is superior to the overly sensitive mouse-like control system found on the other three Lexus models currently on sale in India.
Other features on the Lexus NX 300h include a massive sunroof,a 360-degree camera, front and rear parking sensors, automatic headlamps and wipers, a heads-up display, and wireless charging for smartphones.
Lexus has packed the NX 300h with a host of safety features including eight airbags (Front Driver & Passenger, Driver Knee, Front Passenger Cushion, Front Side & Curtain Shield) and Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS). Other safety tech found on the Lexus NX 300h includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) with a cut-off switch, Hill Start Assist, Traction Control, rear view cameras, and wide angle cornering lights.
Lexus NX 300h F-Sport Engine & Performance
The Lexus NX 300h is powered by a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor each on either axle. The all-wheel-drive NX 300h F-Sport's hybrid powertrain kicks out 194bhp @ 5,700rpm and 210Nm of torque @ 4,200-4,400rpm. Power is sent to all four wheels via an e-CVT automatic gearbox.
The electric motors ensure that the Lexus NX 300h F-Sport provide a quick initial response to inputs from the loud pedal. However push the NX further, and its weight (1,905kg) along with the e-CVT gearbox make progress seem sluggish.
While the e-CVT does feel strained when you push the Lexus hard, the hybrid powertrain feels smooth and is silent as a church mouse when the NX 300h is cruising along, which is a testament to the excellent sound insulation of the SUV.
However, for those wishing for a bit more sporty sound from the engine, Lexus has fitted the F-Sport variant of the NX 300h with a sound generator. Flick the scroll wheel marked ASC (short for Active Sound Control) to the max in the 'Sport' driving mode and a throaty rumble emerges into the cabin of NX from a speaker hidden in the dash.
The NX 300h comes equipped with what Lexus calls an 'adaptive variable suspension' setup. The stiffness of the NX 300h's dampers is continuously adjusted on-the-fly depending on road conditions and this adaptive variable suspension deals with Indian roads rather well, absorbing bumps with ease.
Take the Lexus NX into a corner, and the hybrid SUV responds well, keeping body roll in check. However, the Lexus NX 300h does tend to understeer when you push it into a quick turn. The overactive regenerative braking system on the NX takes some time to get used to and will slow down the Lexus anytime you lift off the gas.
The Lexus NX 300h is priced at Rs 53.18 lakh for the Luxury trim and Rs 55.18 lakh (both prices ex-showroom India) for the F-Sport Variant.
While the price tag may seem to be too much for an SUV that shares its powertrain with the Toyota Camry, the NX 300h's stunning design, stunning interiors and green credentials ensure that it grabs all the attention in a segment dominated by the Germans.
|Tested||Lexus NX 300h F-Sport|
|Powertrain||2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol + 2 electric motors|
|Power||194bhp @ 5,700rpm|
|Torque||210Nm @ 4,200-4,400rpm|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||56 litres|
With its long list of features, ultra-sharp looks and hybrid powertrain, the Lexus NX 300h hits all the high notes rather well.
While it may have a few niggles like cramped rear headroom, a small boot and an annoying eCVT, most buyers will be more than willing to live with the Lexus NX 300h's quirks as its unforgettable looks, and luxurious interiors will ensure that you will be the cynosure of all eyes everywhere it takes you.