We’ve had the Lexus NX300h in F Sport trim in for a week for review, the Lexus SUV which has cars like the Range Rover Evoque in its sites. Is it any good?
For a very long time the only SUV option you had if you wanted a Lexus was the, more or less, full-sized RX.
With a Hobson’s choice, initially of just the NX300h hybrid – although that was joined later by the NX 200t turbo petrol – the NX was a new kind of Lexus, with divisive – but in our eyes very successful – looks. aimed not at middle-aged businessman, as Lexus cars once were, but at yummy mummies and trendy, well-off families.
That means the Lexus NX has in its sights cars like the BMW X3 and Audi Q5, not to mention the fashionistas favourite urban transport – the Range Rover Evoque.
That’s strong competition to take on, but the NX had on its side modern funky looks and a price range (now) competitively pitched between £30k and £44k.
This week we’ve had the Lexus NX 300h F Sport in review to find out if the NX has the measure of the competition.
NX300h F Sport Inside and Out
If you’re old enough to remember the first Lexus LS, it’s probably part of your mindset that Lexus is a staid Japanese Mercedes with well-made, but unexciting, cars aimed at the middle-aged (and beyond). But the Lexus NX blows that conception away with one glance.
A myriad of angles, smooth surfaces and rounded edges collide in what should be an incongruous design mess, but what is actually a funky, sexy, appealing compact-ish family SUV.
The front is modern Lexus family – with added attitude – the side view has lines shooting everywhere, and the back tries to bring all that together in a cohesive, angular way.
It shouldn’t work, but it does; the Lexus NX is properly good looking. Look over your shoulder when you park it, good looking.
But it’s not just the exterior that looks good, the interior’s a delight too.
In this F Sport NX there’s lush, soft red leather, decent plastics which are good to touch and everything feels, and looks, high quality. Probably higher quality than you have a right to expect at this price point.
It’s well-equipped too, with stuff like wireless phone charging, electric everything – from doors to mirrors – auto lights and wipers, parking sensors, Cruise, Sat Nav, good connectivity, lots of safety stuff and more, leaving little wanting.
There’s also a decent amount of room, with easy access to the back which offers decent legroom and room for three, with the middle passenger not having to straddle a central tunnel.
Those up front fare even better, with very comfortable seats with masses of adjustment, plenty of room, plenty of storage, and with nice touches like a cushioned pad for the heel of your hand when operating the infotainment abounding (although we wouldn’t like to say what the small mirror under the storage cover behind that is for).
For our money, the interior is the match, and better, of anything you would consider competition.
NX300h F Sport Performance on the Road
One place you wouldn’t expect the Lexus NX to shine is on the road, what with its horrible CVT gearbox and efficient Atkinson cycle engine. But actually, in its own way, it’s properly good.
Yes, it still has a CVT gearbox which revs without seemingly doing much, but it seems quieter and less irritating in the NX, and some electronic trickery makes it act like it’s got manual cogs if you want it to.
That makes the drive a much nicer one than you’ expect, and the electrical assistance make it feel livelier than you’d expect too from the specs.
This NX F Sport is four-wheel drive thanks to an electric motor at the back, and it does get off the line briskly and respond well – even if the revs go up before much happens – to inputs.
The NX also goes round corners far flatter than you’d expect, and is, in its own way, really rather dynamic. It also has a choice of driving modes – Eco, Normal and Sport.
Driving round in Eco is just a bit mushy, and although the Sport mode actually does what it says on the tin and really does make the NX a noticeable amount livelier, it’s Normal where you want to be.
Because, despite better dynamics than you’d expect, the NX is at it’s best floating around town where it’s quiet, comfortable and a really nice place to be.
NX300h F Sport Verdict
Really, we’d expected to find the Lexus NX a bit of a challenge; after all it’s a mild hybrid with a woeful CVT gearbox. But we were actually won over by the NX’s combination of strength, strengths more than enough to make its drawbacks seem hardly relevant.
In fact, the hybrid powertrain we would once have seen as a bit of a weakness has become perhaps a real strength, as the world finally realises just how dirty diesel engines can be, and although a real world 33.1 mpg isn’t great, it’s on a par with an Evoque diesel.
And speaking of the Evoque, the NX has taken the gong for the most standout design in this sector, managing to look cool, funky and sexy and properly modern, and with an interior that really is too good for its price point.
However, if you’re looking for the last word in dynamism in this sector, then the NX isn’t for you, although shoved in Sport and booted round the back roads it does enough to make you smile for a while, but it’s no a Porsche Macan.
In fact, the Lexus NX is a hybrid crossover/SUV with a rubber band gearbox, usually qualities guaranteed to miss the sweet spot.
But the NX’s forte is making you smile a lot of the time, and it’s a quality SUV which is quiet, very comfortable, practical and decent to drive. It’s actually a real delight.
And that’s not something we expected to say.
Lexus NX300h F Sport Review Photos
Lexus NX300h F Sport Specs
- Engine: 2494cc Electric Hybrid: 192bhp
- Performance: 0-62mph 9.2 seconds / Top Speed 112mph
- Economy: 54.3mpg – Official / 33.1mpg – Test
- Emissions: 121g/km
- Price: £38,295 / Price as tested £38,940
- Test car supplied by Lexus UK
Lexus NX300h F Sport Review Options
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