First lexus plug-in hybrid: the nx450h + in the test.

Article menu

Lexus NX

One step further

The new NX is Lexus’ first plug-in hybrid. It convinces with a lot of comfort and high quality.

The design with a large radiator grille remains typical of Lexus in the second generation of the NX.

Lexus likes to call itself a hybrid pioneer. Normally such phrases, usually penned by the marketing department, should be treated with caution.

In this case, however, there is something to it.

Toyota offered the first hybrid with the Prius as early as 1997; Finally, in 2005, the Lexus subsidiary, founded in 1989, followed with the RX 400h, the first SUV with a hybrid drive. Back then, SUVs weren’t nearly as popular as they are today – and hybrid drives were still a real exception. SUVs have long since become the norm – and electrified drives are also widespread. Otherwise it would no longer be possible to keep fleet consumption within the legal limits. The regulations even require significantly less consumption than the full hybrid systems from Toyota and Lexus. That’s why the Toyota subsidiary is now taking the next step – and is offering a plug-in hybrid drive for the first time. It differs from the previous full hybrid system in that it has a more powerful electric motor and, above all, a significantly larger battery that can be charged at a socket or charging station. This means that even longer distances are possible purely electrically – and consumption drops accordingly.

It is no coincidence that Lexus is launching this form of drive in the new edition of the mid-range SUV NX. Because the first generation of the model was relatively popular in Europe and has accounted for around 30% of Lexus sales since the market launch in 2014. The Japanese sold 175,000 units in Europe, where Lexus has more of a niche brand status; the NX has been sold more than a million times worldwide.

The second model generation should therefore open a new chapter for the brand – and take electrification to the next level. According to Lexus, 95% of all parts have been renewed. A full hybrid drive is still on offer (244 hp FWD from CHF 49,900, AWD from CHF 62,900), but the basic design of the car has been completely revised so that a large battery for the plug-in hybrid can be accommodated in the underbody if required without compromising the interior space.

First Lexus plug-in hybrid: The NX450h + in the test.-nx450h

The battery of the NX 450h+ is recharged after 2.5 hours at best.

With a storage capacity of 18.1 kWh, the battery is one of the larger in the competitive environment and, according to the WLTP measurement, enables up to 63 kilometers of purely electric driving. If you want to continue your journey despite the empty batteries, the 2.5-liter four-cylinder petrol engine kicks in. A further development from the predecessor with 185 hp. Together with an electric motor on the front axle with a maximum of 182 hp and an electric motor on the rear axle for all-wheel drive with a maximum of 54 hp, the SUV has a system output of 309 hp. This means that the NX top model is powerfully motorized and can sprint to 100 km/h in a sporty 6.3 seconds if necessary, but it wants to be anything but an athlete. Rather, he wants to make himself unique through sublime driving comfort. And the Japanese succeeds excellently.

The chassis and steering are designed entirely for comfortable gliding, without making the SUV appear spongy or imprecise when cornering. Above all, however, the acoustics are striking: insulating glass and a lot of insulating material ensure a pleasant silence in the interior. Especially if you glide along purely electrically. One more reason to charge the battery regularly.

When driving comfortably, however, little can be heard from the petrol engine. When accelerating more quickly, however, it becomes clear that Lexus continues to rely on a continuously variable CVT automatic transmission for the new NX. It has no fixed gears, but continuously adapts the gear ratio to the driving situation. When accelerating, the engine speed remains constantly high, the driving speed is constantly increased via the gear ratio. For the occupants, this is expressed in an unpleasant howling of the engine. But you drive without any shifting interruptions or jerks. In addition, the transmission can definitely have advantages in terms of efficiency. The negative aspects are only noticeable on steep mountain stretches or when entering the motorway. And you don’t want to rush in this car anyway. The interior pleases with a pleasantly high seating position and comfortably upholstered seats. The build quality is impeccable – here the Lexus is one of the best in its class. Everything feels very solid and is processed precisely.

First Lexus plug-in hybrid: The NX450h + in the test.-nx450h

Inside there is perfect workmanship and a large touchscreen system.

Lexus has also invested a lot of work in the completely new infotainment system; it convinces with a large and sharp display and simple operation; only the navigation system should work a little more precisely – if you need it. Because the smartphone integration (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) is also perfectly displayed. There are also numerous assistance systems – right down to the electronic door handles, which look backwards before opening to avoid a collision with cyclists.

Lexus NX 450h+

Engine: 2.5L Gasoline PHEV

Power: 309 hp / 391 Nm

Drive: auto CVT, 4×4

L×W×H: 4660×1865×1640mm

trunk: 545-1436L

Weight: 1990kg

0-100km/h: 6.3 sec.

Vmax: 200km/h

Consumption WLTP: 1.1L/100km

Price: from 75,900 francs

Related articles

Please follow and like us:

Leave a Comment