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Nx 300H First Drives


Lexus Nerd
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This week, two Lexus NX 300h SUVs became available at Sydney City Lexus for test driving. I was at the dealership yesterday to try one out and give my thoughts.

I won't provide a detailed technical overview, as there are plenty of hi-res photos and equipment specifications available through online media. Instead, I'll start off pointing out some features that may not have already been covered.

Exterior
First, some photos ...

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Lexus have continuously improved their lighting effects over the past couple of years, and the NX's illuminated door handles is one such improvement:

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Oddly, there is only one reverse lamp on the left side of the tailgate. The right tail light cluster features a foglamp in place of a reverse lamp:

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Now, how's this for attention to detail: The emergency door key is hidden behind the door handle. There's no need for a removable body-coloured cover that could get scratched or lost:

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Interior
As an IS owner, I found the interior of the NX delightfully familiar, but incrementally better. The entire dashboard features leather-look trim and contrast stitching, and an electronic park brake replaces the foot-operated brake. A lot has been said about the Qi phone charging tray; this sits just below the centre console lid, and lifting it reveals some reasonable storage space. Not only is this main storage bin larger than in the IS, but a separate sunglass holder can also be found in the centre console (with a make-up mirror on the underside of the removable lid!). The positioning of the switchgear is much the same as the IS, although the relocation of the front seat heating and cooling buttons near the HVAC controls is a notable change.

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The hip point of the front seats might be lower than in, say, an RX, but that doesn't mean it's harder to get in or out of an NX; in fact, it is so, so much easier to get in and out of an NX than with a current model IS. The only trouble with the F Sport seats - almost identical to the IS seats - is that shorter people will tend to sit on the outer bolster and rotate their legs when entering or exiting. That will inevitably crease the leather strip on the bolster and, indeed, two large creases were found on each front seat within five days of the car being available to the public.

Having brought a tape measure, I found the depth of the trunk to be about 5 cm shorter than in the IS sedan. Usable space is greather, though, with less protruding wheel wells and the valet kit stowed elsewhere.

Infotainment System
A lot has also been said about the new touch-sensitve Remote Touch controller; although I prefer joysticks and trackpoints to notebook computer touchpads, my wife and I did find the Lexus touchpad better than the IS joystick. The entire Lexus square touchpad acts as a button and moves downward when pressed, so there's a pleasant tactile feedback unlike a computer touchpad.

The audio system was very quick to accept my test CD after the engine was started; I dare say that Lexus may have removed the navigation warning notice and other improved startup times of the unit, making the process before leaving the kerb so much more enjoyable. Like in the IS, the sound is quite good in the 10-speaker Pioneer system, with the 14-speaker Mark Levinson system offering somewhat better sound for CDs - but only if one listens very, very carefully. Of course, many people listen to MP3s or compressed streaming audio nowadays, and the HARMAN Clari-Fi technology found in the NX Mark Levinson system "automatically analyzes and improves the audio quality of all types of compressed, digitalized music sources." I shall have to test that claim the next time I drive an NX.

On the Road
As expected, both the electric and petrol engines were quiet. I could really appreciate the softer notes of an orchestral soundtrack without being interrupted by engine noise or having to resort to using the Automatic Sound Leveliser. At 90 km/h, there was no noticeable CVT drone commonly associated with hybrids. The brake and accelerator pedal feel were noticeably different to petrol cars, but didn't annoy me.

On flat roads, with the driver's seat set as low as possible, driving the NX just didn't feel like driving an SUV. When cornering quickly, even outside of SPORT S+ mode, the higher centre of gravity was noticeable, but there was minimal understeer and the F Sport tyres were firmly planted. The panoramic camera and all-wheel drive made parking a breeze, even though the track width is wider than what an IS driver is used to. The Rear Cross Traffic Alert also took the worry out of reversing out of a parking space.

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Not everyone sees the point of having an SUV in urban driving, so I channeled a soccer mum's mind and quickly found some uses for this virtual "IS wagon". Going over speed bumps at almost double the recommended speed was reasonably comfortable, and driving through potholes and grassy mounds (the Sydney Air Traffic Control tower served as my test site) in an NX was streets better than in a sedan.

How about flooring it?

Sadly, even when putting the pedal down at 60 km/h in SPORT mode, there was a delay of about two seconds or more before the wagon felt it was propelling faster, and then only slowly to 80+ km/h. It's not something most people would plan to do with an SUV, anyway, but you've been warned: don't use the NX's acceleration performance as something to impresss your friends, especially as an example of the F Sport's "sportiness". But it was the only let-down in an otherwise impressive test drive.

Verdict
If you've always wanted a quiet, comfortable and fuel-efficient luxury passenger sedan, but would also like wagon capabilities or would rather not have to worry about low road clearance heights, then the NX is for you.

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  • 3 years later...

Thanks for this write-up, Lexus Nerd - found it very informative.

I'm looking at moving on from an IS250 SL to the NX300h (probably 2015 model) - my question is - would you still recommend this car after having 3 years' experience with it?

 

Thanks

 

Subby

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