ROAD TEST: Lexus NX – classy, comfortable and refined

We have become used to manufacturers creating sporting or luxury brands as offshoots to their main production vehicles. One of the car makers that began this trend, and certainly brought it to greater public consciousness, is Toyota. In 1989 they launched Lexus as their luxury arm and unlike some brands have maintained a presence where others have retreated. They have also succeeded in differentiating their two brands with Lexus having much sharper and more angular looks and strong exterior lines.

The latest Lexus NX has just been launched and prices for this larger SUV start from a not unreasonable £44,430. Powertrain choices are the 350h, a self-charging hybrid, or a plug-in hybrid, the 450h, the first from the company. You can drive the front wheels or all four of them, and the 2.5-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine is mated to an e-CVT automatic gearbox.

All NX models come with tyre pressure warning system, automatic rolling door locks, push-button start, dual zone air conditioning, auto dimming rear view mirrors, power adjustable steering wheel, heated front seats, LED lights with high beam assist, multi-function electric door mirrors, auto lights and wipers, car play and android auto, 10-speaker sound system, reversing camera and power tailgate. Phew!

My test model was the 350h, all-wheel-drive, Takumi model that sits towards the top of the range at £59,485 and came with a tilt-and-slide panoramic sunroof along with a vast array of standard equipment and safety kit. Quality on all Lexus models is pretty much as guaranteed as it’s possible to be, and the NX is no exception. The interior of my example had ‘Dark Rose’ seating and looked very classy and a nice contrast to the black trim elsewhere.

A large touchscreen and some traditional buttons (no sub-menu scrolling required) reveals a much more intuitive control set up. Previous Lexus models have seen controls that are rather too clever for their own good, a kind of form over function approach. Not so in this latest NX and it enhances the usability of an already impressive interior.

On the road the refinement and smoothness of the NX is excellent, unless you over exercise your right foot when the engine’s vocals rise noticeably due to the nature of the CVT gearbox. For the main part though it’s a very nice drive with well controlled suspension over the rough stuff and decent steering. The NX is a classy, comfortable and refined SUV with all the usual, and very welcome, Lexus attributes.

Words by Mark Slack

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