Lexus NX 350h Hybrid Road Test Review – Uber Green & Premium

There are quite a few premium car brands that are well known but there is one brand that is underrated here in India, the brand that we referring to is Lexus from Japan. We were privileged to be invited by Lexus India all the way to Shillim on the outside of Lonavala in premium style and that too in a Helicopter which was a first by any carmaker so far.  We have driven the all new 2022 Lexus NX 350h Hybrid, read on to know all on the latest premium SUV to hit the Indian market and as mentioned a highly underrated brand that this is here.

Food for Thought

Lexus brand belongs to Toyota and was founded in 1989. Lexus is ranked among the 10 largest Japanese global brands and is headquartered in Nagoya Japan with operations in more than 90 countries. The F marquee division from Lexus is their flagship performance range that also refers to the Fuji speedway. Lexus introduced the NX initially in 2014 at the Beijing auto show. The latest NX is the 2nd generation of the Japanese SUV code named AZ20. Lexus unveiled this NX in June 2021 which uses the GA-K platform. India gets the NX 350h which is the Hybrid version while there also is the NX 450h+ which is the first Plug-in Hybrid for the Lexus lineup. Other models on the Lexus NX include the NX 250 and NX 350. The NX is built in Japan and Canada for all the global markets. The NX happens to be the best selling model for Lexus in Europe. The NX has sold more than 1 million units globally since launch. This is one brand that has been pioneer in terms of Hybrid technology since a very long time.

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Exteriors

The latest NX 350h is the all new 2nd generation model for the Japanese SUV. Built on the GA-K platform (Global Architecture). In terms of dimensions the NX 350h has grown as compared to the outgoing model with its overall length (+20mm), height (+30mm), width (+20mm) and wheelbase (+30mm). The New NX uses a new and different design language in terms of exteriors. The NX looks classy, sporty and very premium which is a complete head turner where ever it goes.

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The NX comes with a bold and striking face which consists of the signature spindle design Lexus grille which is now much sharper and pronounced with the sleek bordering and the ‘U’ design mesh grille. The Lexus “L” logo now finished in chrome with black background sits handsomely on this grille. The sharp flushed back headlights come with these unique looking tri projector LED headlamps with advanced adaptive high beam system. The signature ‘L’ shaped DRL get sharper and brighter giving the face a distinctive identity. These headlamps also get the fade in illumination control that smoothly turns them on or off with a unique soft transition.

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The front bumper gets sharp edges that flow harmoniously mating on the grille giving a 3D king of look, on their edges are placed the LED fog lamps with black surrounds. The bonnet gets smooth design lines that make it look muscular and premium.

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On the sides also continue with the 3D look combined with soft and sharp design lines defining it. The squarish wheel arches come with unpainted fiber cladding along with the running board area. The roof gets its designing more like a coupe which looks very classy along with the chrome line that hugs the upper glass area finishing off around the sharp kink on the fixed angular quarter glass.

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The unique feature on the sides of the New NX is the Electronic door opener or E-Latch as Lexus calls it which unlike a mechanical handle, it uses a small button located on the inside of the fixed handle for door release. Sleek wing mirrors are door mounted and come with body colored housing with LED turn lamps on them. This gives the exterior door handle a sleek, and modern design without compromise to its usability. The sides get further enhanced with the largest in segment 20 inch tyre profile mounted on trendy looking flower design alloys finished in dual tone. The roof gets practical roof rails finished in metal and shark fin antenna along with a panoramic glass roof.

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The rear profile on the New NX continues with the sharp 3D design language. Here the key styling elements are the sharp ‘L’ shaped LED tail lamps that also come with an extra LED strip that mates the tail lights. This strip comes with LED glow in it and gives the rear a unique distinct personality.  The rear profile is further stylized with the large rear spoiler and the large bumper with air vents and faux skid area on the lower section along with stop reflectors. The tailgate now comes with the LEXUS nomenclature instead of the Lexus ‘L’ logo.

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The Lexus NX 350h comes into India as full import CBU models and the fit finish is of top class. Noteworthy here is the shade we drove which is called Sonic Chrome that is a special paint option which uses the new brand unity colour is applied using the advanced Sonic Paint technology, with multiple thin layers of paint, and hand polished by Lexus Takumi, to create striking contrasts of bright and darker tones across the bodywork.

Interiors

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Lexus says they have designed the cabin of the New NX based on the Tazuna driver focused concept which was first seen on the Lexus LF-30 Electrified concept car. The cabin gets a dark theme while the large dash comes made of soft rubbery material that adds to the premium feel.

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The key highlight on the dash is the 14 inch full HD touch screen AVN system that runs on the latest generation OS that is super fast and easy to use. This XXL sized unit comes with all the connectivity options like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, radio, GPS etc. The climate control dial is also neatly integrated into the AVN system. The second highlight here is the 10 inch HUD display unit that comes with loads of information on it. This display projects speed, safety warnings and navigation commands on it. The instrument cluster is a all colour digital display that is easy on the eyes and highly customizable. The steering is a premium feels three spoke unit with touch sensitive MFD buttons on it. This steering can be electrically adjusted for height and reach. The centre console comes with a unique sliding wireless mobile charger that can be tucked in opening up more storage space when needed.

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You get one USB and one USB type-C charge ports. Premium looking leather wrapping surrounds the console and the centre arm-rest . The automatic transmission shifter is a short throw unit with leather wrapping on it. Here you get a dedicated EV drive mode button along with the electric hand brake, auto hold all finished in glossy black. You get the preset drive mode dial placed on the console just below the climate control dial. This being a CBU the steering also gets heating feature on it along with the wing mirrors. The sound system is sourced from Mark & Levinson that comes with a 17 speaker output playing some real premium audio quality.

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The door pads get premium look and feel leather padding along with special wood inserts. The seats come in leather upholstery and get heating and cooling feature on them along with all electric adjust and memory function. Seating is very comfortable with excellent support and padding on the front seats. Like the outside the insides also get the E-latch switch which needs to be pressed to open the door.

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Getting into the rear seats is pretty easy too with loads of space, support and comfort on this 40/60 split seats. Leg room, head room and knee room is excellent and the premium feel is instantly felt. You get three adjustable head rests here to further enhance the comfort along with folding arm rest. You can also recline the back rest of the rear seat to enhance seating angle when needed.

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Speaking of the the boot space the NX comes with 520 litres boot space with 30 litres of extra boot space placed in the under floor area. Further more you can electrically fold down the rear seats to extend the cargo area to 1330 litres. The electric boot lid can also be opened and closed using the kick or swipe gesture.

Engine – Transmission – Drive

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Powering the Lexus NX 350h is the 2.5 Litre 4-cylinder petrol engine combined with electric motors running on 70 Li-Ion cells giving out a combined power output of 240hp which is a 20% increase of 45hp over the outgoing NX300h. Lexus claims a overall fuel economy of 16.9kmpl on the NX 350h. This hybrid unit is mated to a Electronic (E-CVT) automatic transmission. The NX 350h is an AWD SUV with power shifting from the rear wheel to the front wheel intelligently. The NX350h utilizes an E-Four All-wheel drive, which uses an additional electric motor to drive the rear axle when additional traction is required. The rear electric motor also adds a higher level of performance compared to the Front Wheel Drive NX350h.

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How is the NX 350h to drive?

Well firstly the car is super silent and starts off in the all Electric EV mode. Refinement levels are just like an all EV car. Excellent drivability can be experienced in the all EV mode with full power available from the word go. The drive mode seamlessly shifts to the ICE engine once the EV battery gets used up and then the ICE engine charges it on the go. Driving on the engine mode is also highly refined experience.

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The E-CVT transmission is seamless in its shifts and perfectly gels with the hybrid unit. The overall dynamics enhances the drive quality offered by the NX. The SUV is pretty fun to drive, you can actually monitor the Hybrid system while its at work on the go seeing it charge the battery. We took the NX for some off roading too and the 195mm of ground clearance did help it big time to glide over the conditions.  The NX sails ahead during off road in Pure EV mode hence saving precious fuel.

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On the tarmac the drive feel is pretty positive and very mature. The NX offer excellent suspension setup that makes life in its cabin a better place to be for our bad roads. The steering feels lively and we loved driving in both Pure EV and in the hybrid mode. Out right performance is excellent and the power delivery is also very strong.

Safety

The Lexus NX 350h comes with 8 airbags, ABS with EBD, Lexus Safety +3, dynamic radar cruise control, lane tracing assist, blind spot monitor, lane departure alert, automatic high beam, rear crossing traffic alert, clearance sonar and lots more.

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Competition

The Lexus LC 350h competes with the likes of the Mercedes GLC, BMW X5, Audi Q5, Volvo XC60, Jaguar F-Pace, Land Rover Discovery in its class.

Verdict

As mentioned Lexus has been a very underrated premium brand and the New NX 350h is the perfect model to showcase its power and capability here in our market. The SUV comes with some mind boggling hybrid and safety tech. It drives very well with high fuel efficiency and a excellent drive feel. The NX 350h makes for a perfect premium SUV model if you want to stand and look different from the crowd.

 

 

 

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