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The striking Lexus NX SUV is the best-selling model for the Japanese car maker in the UK. And now there is an all-new second-generation model that really ups the ante with plug-in hybrid EV technology for the first time or a self-charging hybrid system.

Lexus NX 450h side
Lexus NX 450h rear
Lexus NX 450h interior

The good

Style, handling and economy

The bad

Such a competitive sector these days

Tech Specs

Price from
£44,430
Combined Fuel up to
47.9mpg (313.9mpg PHEV)
0-62 from
6.3 seconds
max speed up to
124mph
co2 from
129g/km (21g/km PHEV)

Test Drive

Lexus NX 450h+ Premium Pack PHEV (2023)

The second-generation NX is the first car in the Lexus line-up to be offered with plug-in hybrid technology making it a mid-size SUV that’s great to drive but also very efficient to run.

It’s called the NX 450h, but for anyone looking for self-charging hybrid rather than plug-in, there is also an NX 350h version too.

With the NX being the Japanese carmaker’s best-selling vehicle in the UK, the latest car had a great deal to live up to, and it doesn’t disappoint.

We opted for the NX 450h Premium Pack model costing £54,950 (plus £1,020 for specialist paintwork) which is the entry-level car. At the other end of the scale, the range-topping Takumi with sunroof model costs £65,295.

Our test car was powered by a four-cylinder, 2.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine with an 18.1kWh battery, 134kW front electric motor and a 40kW rear electric motor for a total power output of 305bhp.

With an EV-only driving range of 43 miles, the NX 450h can complete the 0-62mph sprint in a very respectable 6.3 seconds and tops out at 124mph. Officially, under WLTP testing, it can deliver 257mpg with carbon emissions of 22g/km, but clearly it would need to be charged regularly and those EV-only miles used to the max to get anywhere close to those economy figures.

There’s no denying the fact that the NX 450h is a good-looking model with its SUV styling featuring an upright spindle grille for improved airflow, sweeping light clusters with L-shaped daytime running lights, privacy glass, L-shaped taillights connected by a light bar and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Despite the sharp performance figures, the NX 450h prioritises passenger comfort over pace with a luxuriously refined cabin that oozes quality craftsmanship at every turn.

The main nerve centre is a 14-inch multimedia screen that offers access to the many on-board features, including the navigation system, voice assistant, a 10-speaker sound system with DAB radio, Bluetooth and full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

There is a seven-inch driver information display clearly showing all the vital data such as speed and EV range. And the seats, which offer excellent lumbar support, can be both heated or ventilated. In addition, the rear seats and steering wheel can be warmed against the winter blues.

There are physical dials to control the climate settings which is far more practical and safer than having to use over-complicated, drop-down touchscreen menus simply to adjust the temperature.

When it comes to performance, the NX 450h is a delight to drive with nippy acceleration out the starting blocks. It eats up the motorway miles for fun effortlessly cruising at 70mph and is nicely grounded and balanced when fizzing through twisting lanes too with precise steering offering plenty of feedback.

There are drive modes called Normal, Eco and Sport that change the characteristics of the car and paddles can be used for added driver engagement.

Its nimble and easy to manoeuvre in busy town centre settings and the wealth of sensors, cameras and parking aids make squeezing into a tight space that much easier.

Special mention to the highly effective suspension system that somehow makes our pitted road surfaces seem smooth to drive along.

With its SUV billing, the Lexus NX needs to cover the practicality bases well and it does just that. Back seat passengers are treated to ample space and a trio of adults can fit in, albeit at a bit of a squeeze. It’s fine for two adults or three youngsters though.

The boot is accessed via a powered tailgate and can swallow 545 litres of kit, increasing to 1,436 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat.

Cables can be stored beneath the boot floor and storage options throughout the car include a locking glovebox, door bins, a central cubby, sunglasses compartment, front and rear cup holders and a smartphone charging pad.

Charging the 18.1kWh battery takes 2.5 hours using a 230V/32A connection and the 6.6kW on-board charger.

With families in mind and a with it likely to be a regular on the school run, it’s reassuring to learn the Lexus NX 450h has a comprehensive list of safety features and driver assistance to help protect occupants and other road users. It was awarded a maximum five stars when tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating.

All in all, the NX 450h is a fabulous family car that’s big on style, technology and performance, without breaking the bank in the process.

Test Drive

Lexus NX 450h+ Premium Plus Pack PHEV (2023)

The ever-popular NX family SUV has gained its status in the Lexus history books by becoming the carmaker’s first model to feature plug-in hybrid technology.

The stylish Lexus NX, which is now in its second generation, is the company’s best-selling car in the UK and is available in trims called NX, Premium Plus Pack, F Sport Premium Plus and F Sport Takumi with additional packs to personalise the vehicle further.

The new powertrain on the NX 450h+ sees a 2.5-litre 2.5-litre, naturally-aspirated petrol hybrid engine, alongside a 134kW front electric motor, a 40kW rear electric motor, a hybrid transaxle, plus an 18.1kWh lithium-ion battery to deliver a total output of 305bhp.

And despite weighing in around the two-tonne mark, the NX boasts some impressive performance stats with a 0-62mph sprint time of just 6.3 seconds and maximum speed of 124mph. It has an EV-only driving range of 43 to 47 miles – which is ample for the average daily commute – and, according to WLTP testing, can deliver a combined 257mpg with carbon emissions of 25g/km.

Clearly that mpg figure would only be achievable if the car was driven in electric mode the majority of the time and the battery regularly topped up. But the low CO2 figure is attractive to business drivers who would see an eight per cent Benefit in Kind tax rating. The battery takes 2.5 hours to charge using a 230V/32A connection and the 6.6kW on-board charger.

The NX 450h+ line-up starts from £54,950, but we opted for the Premium Plus Pack model priced at £60,700 – some specialist metallic paint added a further £1,020 to the final cost.

When it comes to handling, the NX is beautifully refined prioritising comfort over sheer pace. But it’s certainly no slouch either with swift acceleration through the e-CVT transmission. It’s a car that cruises with ease on motorways eating up the miles, but is confident and well balanced when faced with more testing B roads with lots of twists and turns.

The steering is perfectly weighted offering plenty of feedback and, with the slightly elevated seating, the driver visibility is excellent which is a plus point on a car that will likely feature on many a school run.

Drive modes called Eco, Normal and Sport alter the reactions and characteristics of the NX and there are also settings to hold or boost the EV charge. Premiering on the car is a Trail mode which offers added grip via the AWD system.

The NX 450h+ has a strong road presence stretching almost 4.7 metres in length, 1.86 metres wide and 1.67 metres tall. Eye catching features include the distinctive Lexus spindle grille which has been designed in a more upright position for improved airflow. There are narrow headlights with L-shaped daytime running lights, privacy glass, black alloys, L-shaped tail lights with a connecting light bar and the LEXUS name on the tailgate replacing the traditional badge.

Comfort is something Lexus specialises in and prides itself on, so it will come as little surprise to learn passengers are very well catered for with a wealth of high-end tech to explore, plus powered front seats that can be heated or ventilated. The steering wheel can also be warmed against the winter chill and there are memory settings to store favourite positions.

The main focal point within the cabin is the 14-inch multi-media infotainment touchscreen which offers access to the navigation system, 10-speaker sound system with DAB, smartphone connection via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth and lots more besides.

A ‘Hey Lexus’ voice assistant is a great way to navigate the many functions and there are also tracer buttons on the steering wheel for added convenience.

There is a separate panel for all the climate control settings and all the vital driving stats can be seen on the clear tft screen or the 10-inch head-up display.

With the second generation NX growing in size, back seat passengers benefit from extra leg room making it an ideal family car for active adventures, especially when you take into consideration it has AWD ability and can tow a trailer weighing up to 1.5 tonnes.

The outer rear seats can be heated and there are plenty of USB ports to keep devices charged on the move.

The boot is accessed via a powered tailgate and has a capacity of 545 litres, a limit that increases to 1,436 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. In addition, there is a glovebox, door bins, central cubby, front and rear cup holders, seat back pockets and a wireless charging pad to store other bits and pieces.

When you also factor in the extensive range of safety systems and driver assistance aids, the Lexus NX is a very accomplished family SUV that’s very big on comfort and style, while still delivers the goods when it comes to performance, practicality and running costs.

Test Drive

Lexus NX 350h – first drive (2022)

Lexus has given its top-selling model in the UK a fresh new look and it’s jam-packed with high-end technology, creature comforts and safety features.

Since its original launch back in 2014, the NX has gone on to account for more than 27,000 sales in the UK, but it was starting to look a little jaded round the edges.

So, now Lexus designers and engineers have taken the brave step to give the car a new, dynamic design and introduce a wealth of updated tech to the mix, without scaring away the faithful customer base.

The new model was introduced at the end of 2021 and, for the first time, featured a plug-in hybrid system – it was called the NX 450h. But now there is the more familiar NX 350h version which is fitted with the company’s all-new fourth-generation self-charging hybrid system with new battery packs and the option of E-Four all-wheel drive.

Customers can choose from trim levels called called NX, Premium Pack, Premium Plus Pack, Takumi and F Sport Premium Plus Pack with prices starting from £38,250.

All models have a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine with 241bhp – this is a 24 per cent power increase and that means the new NX is faster than its predecessor. It can sprint to 62mph from a standstill in 7.7 seconds, maxes out at 124mph, while delivering a combined 44.1-47.9mpg with carbon emissions from 129g/km for front-wheel drive versions or 136g/km for those fitted with E-Four technology.

We opted to test drive the dynamic NX 350h F Sport AWD with optional Takumi Pack and sunroof, costing £54,800. Specialist metallic paint saw the price rise by an additional £920.

When it comes to styling, the all-new NX, which boasts 95 per cent new parts, is certainly a looker with plenty of road presence. It features a massive spindle grille that is impossible to ignore, four-eye LED headlights, plus a slim adaptive high beam system for the first time with L-shaped daytime running lights.

The rear has a new signature design with L-shaped LED lights and a light blade spanning the width of the car. The LEXUS name replaces the company logo on the tailgate and there is privacy glass, a sunroof, puddle lamps and 20-inch F Sport wheels to complete the athletic appearance.

Move inside and the cabin is pure class with the finest leather upholstery and eight-way powered sports seats. The number of physical switches has been reduced from 75 to 45 but there are still proper controls for the most popular functions.

The main focal point and the car’s nerve centre is the new 14-inch high-definition touchscreen which looks modern and very premium. On-board tech includes a 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 10-inch head-up display, Bluetooth, dual zone climate control and plenty more besides.

A personal assistant is brought to life by saying: “Hey Lexus” and this can now recognise 19 languages as well as assist with restaurant locations, finding vacant parking spaces, searching for radio stations and even functions such as closing the windows and raising the temperature.

When it comes to performance, the Lexus NX is a very smooth operator. It is swift out the starting blocks and the CVT transmission is nicely refined as the car powers to motorway cruising speeds.

On twisting country lanes, it is well grounded with minimal signs of body movement. And our F Sport model also boasted adaptive suspension to assist with the crisp handling of the car.

There are drive modes that alter the reactions of the NX and these are called Normal, Eco, Sport S and Sport S+. Our vehicle also featured all-wheel drive for added grip in more adverse weather and driving conditions.

With the elevated driving position, the all-round visibility is good and there is a 360-degree panoramic view monitor, intelligent park assist sensors, plus a digital rearview mirror to assist with parking or looking out for other road users.

Comfort levels within the new NX are sublime and there is room in the back for a trio of passengers. The rear outer seats can be heated to fend off the winter blues and, up front, the seats can be heated or cooled and there is a heated steering wheel.

The boot is well-sized with lots of underfloor storage compartments. It can swallow 545 litres of luggage, a limit that increases to 1,436 litres by dropping the 60:40 split-folding rear seats.

For added convenience, the tailgate has a kick sensor so it can be opened hands-free by waving your foot beneath the rear bumper. This is really practical if approaching the car laden down with shopping bags.

Elsewhere there is a lockable glovebox, deep central cubby, a wireless charging pad, wide door bins, seat back pockets, plus front and rear cup holders.

Although the second generation NX is yet to be tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating, the car is packed with all the latest driver assist systems to help protect occupants and prevent accidents.

It also features a new E-Latch system that replaces the traditional interior door handle. This electronic door release set-up will prevent you opening the door into the path of a passing cyclist or car. It can be over-ridden with a traditional handle in an emergency.

Other safety systems include an improved pre-collision system that detects more risk scenarios, lane keep assist, intersection assist, dynamic radar cruise control, blind spot monitor and lots more besides.

All in all, the new 2022 NX is a top-quality car that has been brought bang up to date. It boasts new styling, a wealth of technology and fabulous driving dynamics along the way.

Test Drive

Lexus NX (Second Generation) – First drive (2021)

The Lexus NX luxury SUV has been the best-selling model for the company in the UK and now there is an all-new second generation version that raises the bar even higher.

The 2021 NX is available with self-charging hybrid technology called 350h or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) technology named 450h+ – the latter is a first PHEV model for Lexus and that’s the car we tested.

This vehicle features a four cylinder 2.5-litre petrol engine with a 134kW front electric motor, a 40kW rear electric motor, a hybrid transaxle and an 18.1kWh lithium-ion battery.

Together, it produces a maximum power output of 305bhp which results in a 0-62mph sprint time of just 6.3 seconds and top speed of 124mph. It can be driven in pure EV mode at speeds of up to 83mph and can achieve between 43 and 47 miles in that setting.

The NX350h range costs from £38,300 while the 450h+ line-up is priced from £57,800. The PHEV model is available in generously equipped trim levels called NX premium Pack, NX Premium Pack Plus, F Sport, F Sport Takumi Pack and range-topping Takumi.

Our test car had German registration plates and was left hand drive, but it was very close to the NX 450h+ Plug-in Hybrid F Sport with Premium Pack model which costs from £54,800.

There’s no denying the NX has quite a road presence boasting full-sized SUV dimensions. Eye-catching design cues include the hallmark Lexus spindle grille which has a more upright position on the new car to improve the airflow into the engine. It has a new mesh pattern with 3D effect and there are new slim adaptive high beam lights and L-shaped daytime running lights.

That L-shaped theme continues at the rear with the all-LED light clusters and a signature light blade that spans the width of the car. Also new is the LEXUS name on the tailgate replacing the company badging.

The 20-inch alloys on F Sport versions, as tested, boast a 10-spoke design to complete the dynamic styling.

Moving inside, the second-gen NX is the first car to feature the new Tazuna driver’s cockpit concept, which has been developed to ensure the driver spends the maximum time with their hands on the steering wheel rather than fiddling around looking for buttons and switches to control the on-board technology.

The number of physical buttons has been reduced from 75 to 45 but there are still ‘proper’ controls for the most frequently-used operations. The cabin is very driver-focused with clear and precise read-outs and gauges along with a head-up display for added convenience.

The test car boasted top quality leather upholstery along with high-end fixtures to give the car a premium feel. Powered seats can be heated or ventilated and the steering wheel can also be warmed up.

And there is a whole array of technical features to explore, such as the Lexus Link Pro multimedia system with a four-year connected services subscription included. This set-up introduces cloud-based navigation as standard which means that the sat nav is always online to deliver real-time traffic details and information about any accidents or events that may cause delays to your journey.

The main focal point is a 14-inch high-definition touchscreen with sharp graphics. There is full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dual zone climate control, Bluetooth and a seven-inch driver information binnacle.

There are tracer buttons on the steering wheel to control many functions and there is also a personal assistant that is activated by saying the magic words: “Hey Lexus”.

This is quite intuitive and if you say you are hungry, it will list nearby restaurants. It can be used to find radio stations, close windows and a wealth of other functions. It even recognises 19 languages so will be fine when uncle Heinz from Germany visits!

So the new NX looks the business and is packed with kit, but how does it perform when put to the test? The answer is very well indeed.

With no waiting for the revs to build, the acceleration out the starting blocks is instant and very rapid. The NX cruises effortlessly at 70mph on motorways and is also nicely balanced on country lanes where the grip impresses into bends.

The plug-in hybrid system has four different modes with EV being the default setting unless the range has been depleted. There is an Auto EV/HV mode that automatically brings the hybrid engine into action when added power is needed. An HV mode can be selected to maximise the most efficient driving while saving battery charge for when EV miles may be needed such as Congestion Charge zones. And finally, there is a Battery charging mode to replenish the EV-only range.

The driver can also select between four drive modes to alter the reactions and behaviour of the car. These are called Normal, Eco and Sport. There is also a new Trail setting which helps prevent wheel spin on slippery surfaces and the car has Lexus E-Four all-wheel drive as standard.

The automatic transmission is well-timed with steering wheel-mounted paddles for added driver engagement and special mention to the nicely weighted steering that offers plenty of feedback.

The new NX is slightly larger than the outgoing model and does feel quite big, especially on narrow lanes, but it is deceptively agile and the elevated driving position results in excellent all-round visibility which is a bonus in busy city centres.

There is ample space in the back for a trio of passengers to sit comfortably and the boot can swallow 545 litres of luggage – a limit that increases to 1,436 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped down.

In addition, there are bundles of handy storage compartments scattered throughout the NX and there is also a wireless charging pad.

Safety features are comprehensive too and the NX features a clever e-latch system that will be very good news for cyclists. There is an electronic door release that replaces the traditional handle inside the car and is positioned next to the armrest. The door can be opened in a smooth simple manner, but it incorporates a Safe Exit Assist function that prevents the doors being opened into the path of vehicles or cyclists that are passing. Clever stuff.

This complements a whole range of safety systems that includes the third generation of Lexus Safety Systems+ as standard. An improved Pre-Collision System can detect significantly more risk scenarios and this comes with Emergency Steering Assist built in. Other features are Lane Keep Assist, Lane Trace Assist, Road Sign Assist, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Automatic High Beam and plenty more besides.

When it comes to running costs, the NX 450h+ as tested, has combined fuel efficiency of 256.8-313.9mpg (WLTP) and carbon emissions of 20-26g/km. Charging the NX PHEV takes around 2.5 hours using a 230V/32A connection and the 6.6kW on-board charger.

All in all, the latest NX is quite the all-rounder and with 95 per cent new parts and the all-new PHEV technology, it is likely to carry on being the company’s best-seller adding significantly to the 27,000 existing UK sales.

Test Drive

Lexus NX 300h F Sport

With the future of motoring firmly fixed on electric and hybrid-powered vehicles, brands such as Toyota and its premium marque Lexus have a wealth of experience and the NX is a perfect example of that expertise.

And anyone who thought petrol/battery driven cars couldn’t be complemented by dynamic muscular styling should check out the sporty Lexus NX300h model. It was the company’s first compact crossover and boasts awesome good looks with lots of sharp angles and sweeping lines making it as appealing as any concept car.

Stand-out design cues include 18-inch two-tone wheels, LED daytime running lights, rear privacy glass, F Sport scuff plates and spindle grille, LED rear lights, illuminated door handles with puddle lights and a powered tailgate.

The car was recently treated to a mild facelift with revised styling along with upgrades to the suspension and equipment levels. The grille looks more aggressive, the indicators have a sweeping movement and the LED headlights are sleeker in their design with the addition of adaptive high beam assist.

Our test car in F Sport spec carried a £39,995 price-tag, but the addition of a panoramic roof (£1,000), a Premier Pack (£4,000) and F Sport White paint (£645) saw the cost increase to £45,640 which is certainly well into premium car pricing.

In a day and age where the majority of manufacturers are striving to develop clutter-free, simplistic interiors the NX300h is the exact opposite. Step inside and you are greeted by a wealth of switches, buttons, readouts, dials and a touchpad all in a rather large central stack that separates the front seats. It looks like the cockpit of a plane.

The car is generously equipped with plenty of on-board techno treats to explore, including a head-up display, a premium sat nav set-up, a 14-speaker Mark Levinson surround sound system with DAB radio, a 12.3-inch multimedia display, wireless smartphone charging, Bluetooth, a remote touch interface touchpad and dual-zone climate control.

Comfort levels within the NX300h are very high and the leather seats can be heated and feature eight-way power adjustment. The steering wheel can also be heated and the aluminium pedals reinforce the car’s sporty character.

Powered by a 2.5-litre petrol/electric combination, the NX300h can reach 62mph from a standing start in 9.2 seconds and tops out at 112mph. According to official figures it can deliver combined fuel economy of 54.3mpg with carbon emissions of 121g/km.

Those figures may not look that impressive on paper and, in reality, the NX300h is not exactly the most dynamic of hybrids, but if driven with a little respect it moves smoothly and efficiently through the electric CVT transmission and the acceleration is constant. If, however you decide to floor the throttle, there will be lots of noise and very little movement – it’s a car that needs a little TLC.

That said; it’s no slouch out on the country lanes and its dynamic styling means there is minimal body roll even when pushed hard into long sweeping bends. The road holding is ultra-grippy and the cabin is well insulated against any engine, road surface or wind noise.

The latest revisions see an upgraded suspension system which means that all but the most severe dips and bumps are successfully smoothed out.

The driver can choose between various driving modes called Eco, Normal and Sport that alter the way the car handles and there is an EV mode which allows you to drive in pure electric power provided there is enough charge.

The NX300h also has a second electric motor in addition to the hybrid petrol and electric powertrain that drives the rear wheels delivering extra torque where it’s needed in four-wheel drive.

When it comes to storage, the NX300h is a practical option with a boot capacity ranging from 475 to 1,520 litres with the rear seats dropped flat. The powered tailgate is a bonus if approaching the car laden down with shopping bags but remember to start the boot opening process early as it is painfully slow.

The other slightly irritating factor on an otherwise impressive car, is that touchpad. I attempted to programme a new sat nav destination and it was so clunky that I ended up pulling into a layby and resorting to my smartphone’s Google maps instead.

But those gripes aside, the NX300h is a beautifully refined car to drive and also features a whole range of safety features and driver aids as standard. These include a pre-collision system, lane keep assist, adaptive high beam assist, traffic sign recognition, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, hill start assist, numerous airbags and plenty more besides.

All in all, the NX300h is not without its frustrating aspects, but it is a car for the future. It looks amazing, drives well, is packed with technology and the low CO2 emissions bring excellent benefit-in-kind rewards for business drivers.

Test Drive

Lexus NX300h F Sport

Anyone who thinks that bulging muscles and subtle finesse don’t mix should check out the Lexus NX because it certainly proves that opposites do attract.

For the car, which is the company’s first compact crossover model – boasts an athletic, almost aggressive body styling that would normally be accompanied by a roaring engine soundtrack, but instead the NX300h is a hybrid and that means you can pull away in complete silence, which at times still seems very eerie.

The NX300h F sport looks fabulously dynamic from any approach thanks to its grounded stance, a powered tailgate, 18-inch two-tone alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, an F Sport spindle grille, integrated roof rails, alloy scuff plates and privacy glass.

Step inside and you are greeted by all the luxury one could wish for in a premium-styled car. Lexus has incorporated the finest leathers, materials and aluminium-style trim to create a first class interior with ample room for five adults to travel in extreme comfort.

On-board technology is plentiful and includes a pitch perfect 10-speaker sound system with DAB radio, CD player, Bluetooth connectivity, electric seats with heat settings, rain-sensing wipers, front and rear parking sensors, dual zone climate control, an easy to programme sat nav system, a wireless smartphone charging tray and there is even a pull-out vanity mirror in front of the arm rest (although I’m not quite sure why!)

Powered by a 2.5-litre petrol/electric combination that delivers plenty of bite and good acceleration when needed, the NX 300h F Sport can sprint from 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds and maxes out at 112mph.

There is a CVT automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddles and this works very effectively unless the car is pushed particularly hard when it whines and whirs a little before providing the burst of pace you want.

Apart from pulling away in EV electric mode, there are three driving styles to choose from – Normal, Eco and Sport – which vary the look of the instrumentation panel and also the car’s handling with the sport setting delivering edgier and livelier driving dynamics with faster responses.

The elevated driving position results in excellent all-round visibility which is a ‘must’ on a vehicle that will often be used on the school run. In addition, another notable factor is the ease in which the car drives with precise steering and good road-holding.

The cabin remains beautifully quiet even when moving at pace on motorways or across uneven surfaces where all the bumps and dips are somehow ironed out by the efficient suspension system.

However, I did find two features quite annoying. The first was the powered boot which was painfully slow both opening or closing and proved most frustrating when carrying shopping bags in the rain – they ended up going behind the front seats.

The second was the fuel efficiency. The official figures claim a combined fuel economy of 54.3mpg, but I was seeing much lower – around the 40mpg mark during my week-long test.

But those two gripes aside, the NX 300h F Sport is a fabulous piece of kit and is packed with a comprehensive range of safety specifications too, including adaptive cruise control, traction control, hill start assist, vehicle stability control and E-Four, which is a second motor (in addition to the hybrid petrol and electric powertrain) that drives the rear wheels and so delivers extra torque where it’s needed in four-wheel-drive.

All in all, this compact crossover is a true all-rounder. At £36,995 (£40,385 with options), it’s certainly not cheap, but you do get lots of car, plenty of quality kit and luxurious surroundings in which to enjoy the driving experience.

Test drive

Lexus NX – first drive

It’s possibly the best-looking compact premium SUV on the market today and its dynamic styling, luxurious interior and impressive efficiency is guaranteed to turn heads wherever it passes.

That’s because the NX seems to have it all, including a price-tag that will leave you on speaking terms with the bank manager.

Just the slightest glance at the all-new NX 300h and it is instantly clear that it has been influenced by the LF-NX concept cars Lexus presented at the Frankfurt and Tokyo motor shows in 2013.

Boasting sharp distinctive styling it is certainly going to turn younger heads, but it is also exceptionally practical along the way with a very spacious cabin and all the luggage room you could possibly wish for.

The muscular and edgy exterior blends beautifully with the trademark-Lexus luxurious interior which features a driver-focused cockpit, more dials and switches than a fighter jet and a whole host of creature comforts and techno treats to be explored.

First impressions are vital and the NX certainly doesn’t disappoint thanks to smart alloys, a prominent spindle grille flanked by LED lights, flared front and rear wings and daytime running lights. The low roofline which falls away towards the rear of the car along with pronounced wheel arches all help to give the vehicle a sporty, muscular and athletic stance.

The beautifully-sculpted interior has been designed with sublime comfort in mind and there are flashes of luxury at every turn. The large centre console is surrounded by soft leather panels and there are contrasting carbon fibre trims and wood inlays on the range-topping Premier grade models.

Back seat passengers are treated to ample leg, head and shoulder space and the generously-sized boot can accommodate 475 litres of luggage, which is large enough for family-sized suitcases and wide enough to carry golf clubs sideways. Elsewhere there are numerous practical storage options throughout the cabin, including a large glovebox, sunglasses holder, a console tray, cup holders and deep door pockets that can hold half-litre bottles.

On-board technology is plentiful and includes a wireless charging tray for mobile phones and other portable devices, the first application of a new Lexus Remote Touch Interface with a touch pad control, an improved multi-information display, a 360-degree Panoramic View Monitor that gives the driver a complete all-round view from the car and a 6.2-inch head-up display.

There is a 4.2-inch full-colour multi-information display which is centrally positioned in the instrument cluster.

And another first for Lexus are the touch switches in the headlining to operate the interior dome light and map lights.

The NX 300h is available with front or all-wheel drive and the hybrid system features a 2.5-litre Atkinson cycle engine and one or two electric motors. The total output is 195bhp and the car can officially deliver up to 56.5mpg with carbon emissions from 116g/km for FWD models and 54.3mpg and 121g/km for AWD versions.

It is priced from £29,495 and available in five generously-equipped trim levels – S, SE, Luxury, F Sport and Premier.

Richard Balshaw, director of Lexus UK, said: “NX shows that the Lexus brand can be adventurous and exciting. We are renowned for offering a high level of equipment in cars as standard and the NX is no exception with adaptive cruise control, pre-crash safety, LED headlights, a reversing camera and a space saver spare wheel all included.

“There are so many small unexpected design features and the cabin is truly a luxurious retreat.”

So the car looks drop-dead gorgeous and is packed to bursting with all the mod-cons you could think of, but how does it handle?

The answer is remarkably well.

I tested two models on a lengthy road route through Austria and Hungary that incorporated twisting inclines, fast country lanes, quiet villages and three-lane motorways (without the hold-ups!)

And both vehicles were very much up to the challenge despite being different and individual in their handling and personalities.

First up was the Premier model – the all singing, all dancing version with more bells and whistles than a top class orchestra. This model oozes class and the interior is incredibly luxurious in its design and layout.

The extensive range of on-board techno treats are easy to access and control via the touchpad and even after several hours of exploring there were still numerous features to be discovered. This car would keep the most inquisitive technical mind very active for days on end.

And when it comes to handling, the car was an absolute pleasure to drive. More than one person commented that it almost seems to drive itself and that perfectly sums up the NX.

It cruises along silently through busy traffic and then opens up with a nice burst of pace as and when required. The road-holding is flawless and comfort levels supreme – it really is a luxurious vehicle in every department.

Next up was the F Sport version which had a completely different personality. It still featured plenty of built-in luxury but there was an edgier feel to the car and the sound effects matched those characteristics.

At times it seemed a tad noisy which is almost unheard of in a hybrid but that was when we were using the paddle shifts to change gears and driving with a rather heavy boot!

But once again it was up to the challenge and there was ample power on tap to overtake as and when required.

There are three drive settings to choose from – Normal, Eco and Sport. And there is also an additional EV all-electric mode for pure electric driving.

As one would expect Lexus has ensured the all-new NX 300h is available with a comprehensive array of safety systems, including pre-crash safety, blind spot monitoring, automatic high beam, adaptive cruise control, eight airbags, lane keep assist, and rear cross traffic alert.

So Lexus has made an impressive debut into the compact premium SUV segment which just happens to be the fastest growing in the motoring industry – watch this pace to see how close rivals react.

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