Japanese Luxury car maker Lexus announced their arrival in style earlier this year by launching three cars in one go. Now the company is set to add a fourth car to the list. The NX 300h will be the third SUV and third hybrid for Lexus in India. A luxury compact crossover or nimble crossover is what Lexus likes to call the NX. The car was introduced to the world just a couple of years back and in that short time it has made quite a mark. It is already the best selling Lexus model in Europe and the company is hoping that the car will help them make bigger inroads in the Indian luxury car space. There’s a dearth of full hybrids in the luxury segment and the NX is aiming to fill the void. We were in Goa to see how good the crossover is and if it has what it takes to rule the segment, it will soon be a part of.
One look at NX300h and you’re convinced that Japanese are now giving the Europeans a run for their money. The NX adds a lot of style and there are many elements that contribute to that. The huge spindle grille for one creates a huge impact. The car gets triple beam projector headlamps with Daytime running LEDs. The dynamic turn indicators and the Led tail lamps are also there. Then there’s a big spoiler the car comes with and all these elements contribute a design that’s sporty as well as stylish. A few things remind you of other cars from the brand but many elements are exclusive to this one as well. There are two variants on offer, Luxury & F-sport and both get a lot of colour options, some of which are common to both.
The first thing that impresses you is the high quality of fit and finish inside the car. Contrast stitching really is one of the highlights inside the NX. There’s the infotainment system which is controlled through a touchpad and comes with features like 360 degree camera as well as navigation. However, the system is not compatible with Apple car play or Android auto but what somewhat makes up for that is a wireless mobile charging pad in the centre. The NX also gets a brilliant 14 speaker Mark Levinson sound system that plays music in the highest possible quality. The front seats can be heated and cooled and second row of seats can be folded down at a press of a button from the driver’s seat. The big panoramic sunroof creates an airy feel and even the middle passenger can sit very comfortably on the second row of the NX. A raised boot floor because of a full size spare wheel ensures the boot space inside this 4.3 meter long car isn’t very generous.
Internationally the NX gets more drive train options but India will only get the full hybrid NX 300h. Clearly the emphasis is there on strong hybrids for the Indian market. It’s a BS VI compliant engine on the car so the company is ready for India in more ways than one. A 2.5 liter 4 cylinder petrol engine is mated to an electric motor. The maximum power that is churned out is 194 bhp but the more impressive part is the mileage as company is claiming a figure of 18.3 kmpl on the NX300h. Peak torque figure stands at 210 mm and the car is mated to a 6-step CVT gearbox that also gives paddle shifters. The car does a 0-100 kmph in 9.2 seconds which clearly means it isn’t the fastest SUV in this price bracket. There are five driving modes on offer that range from Eco for better mileage to Sport+ for superior performance. This means the car can satiate multiple driving needs and can be used differently in different times. A cool feature is that in Sport modes, that dial converts into a tachometer, which is a great sight.
There are five driving modes on offer that range from Eco for better mileage to Sport+ for superior performance catering to multiple driving needs.
Ride & Handling
The adaptive variable suspension ensures the NX300h delivers a great combination of ride quality and handling. Depending on the conditions the cars gives a smooth ride and the system also ensures the body roll is also kept in check. The steering wheel is light and precise something you want in chaotic road conditions. The electric all-wheel drive system the car comes with is a boon for our road and traffic conditions. The ECU unit identifies the terrains and decides how much power is to be supplied to rear wheels. This ensures a good mix of efficiency and performance. The only downside is that the all wheel drive system cannot be locked. The car is charged through regenerative braking where the batteries are charged every time the car decelerates. This also ensures the brakes get a longer life. The car starts purely on batteries so it’s absolutely silent in the beginning. The engine comes to life sooner rather than later to give a superior performance. On the other extreme a unique tool on the F-sport is the Active Sound Control or ASC. This system produces artificial sound of a loud V8 through its speakers when the car is pushed hard.
The prices for the NX300h will only be revealed in January but Lexus has indicated that the car will start at around Rs 60 lakh. This makes it the most affordable Lexus product In India. The car also comes with nine airbags, including the driver knee airbag which again is pretty unique and safe. Plus there’s vehicle stability control and hill start assist for unfavourable surface conditions. A ground clearance of 185 mm also helps a great deal. So, if along with luxury and drivability you also care for the environment the NX could be your next choice of wheels.
Shams Naqvi is an anchor/producer for the News X motor show Living Cars