The NX300h comes hot out of Lexus’ growing lineup
of cars in India. It promises a lot of performance while saving the earth at the same time. We take it
for a spin to Goa, to see if it delivers
Lexus entered India earlier this year and since then, has steadily worked towards introducing new models across a premium genres. Premium being the keyword here, after all it’s what sets the brand apart from its parent company Toyota. It is also my first time driving a Lexus and the first time I’ve experienced a sub-brand that’s not sporting monikers of a performance division. Expectations were thus set a tad higher. With a grand launch event hosted at a dock in Mumbai, the day came to get a feel of the NX300h in the flesh. Their latest hybrid vehicle, the NX300h is an urban-compact that combines the sporty design language of modern Lexus cars with future drive train technology given the gradual shift towards alternative fuels.
I don’t have to emphasise much on the aesthetics of the NX300h as its design truly speaks for itself. Instantly likeable, this Lexus takes the RX450h’s shell and shrinks it into a 4.7-meter compact SUV. The result is a properly quicklooking silhouette that looks like a million dollars even while it’s standing still. The angular headlamp housing staggered triple LEDs is underlined by a spear-shaped DRL that pinches the massive grille at the top while the enormous lower bumper flanks air-ducts below which the cornering lights are placed. Choose the F-Sport package and you get black highlights over the head lamps and tail lamps along with an even more aggressive-looking grille and front bumper that complete with a lower splitter and bigger air-ducts. The sides are dominated by massive wheel arches and a sloping roofline that blends into the tailgate which seems like a reflection of the front-end. The 18inch wheels however, are bit of a disappointment, looking way too plain for such a beautifully designed car. But Lexus will offer you over 100 options and add-ons to choose from, helping you customise your NX300h to your liking.
The interior doesn’t disappoint either with generous swathes of leather across the roomy cabin. Although some of the plastics, especially in and around the centre console could’ve been of a better finish to go with the quality leathers. The 10.3inch multi-information screen mounted on top of the centre console offers a plethora of vehicle information and features, displayed in full colour and interactive graphics. Of course, it comes loaded with usual features such as Bluetooth con-
ADAPTIVE VARIABLE SUSPENSION RESULTS IN RIDE QUALITY THAT’S PLUSH, WHILE SKILFULLY CONTROLLING EXCESSIVE BODY MOVEMENT
nectivity that was easy to use, an effective climate control system and navigation. The NX300h also offers wireless charging, a heads-up display with running information at a glance, also convenience features like electric folding of the rear seats for easier storage and hands-free tailgate operation.
The most interesting bit of the compact SUV is its powertrain. The NX300h uses a parallel hybrid system that makes use of a 2.5-litre, 4-cylinder petrol engine alongside an electric motor. Both motors can individually power the car or share power usage depending on demands of the right foot. The internal combustion engine can also recharge the 204-cell battery for the electric motor thus eliminating the need to plug-in and charge them. The result is 194bhp and 210Nm from the fossil fuel burning petrol motor while the environment saving electric motor churns out 208bhp and 270Nm of torque. Lexus claims a 9.2 second run to 100kmph, 180kmph top-speed and yet manage 18.8kmpl. On paper, much of these look fitting to the sporty visage of the compact SUV but one mechanical component fizzles out the enthusiasm. Lexus calls it E-CVT or an intelligent Constant Variable Transmission which is essentially a CVT
and nothing more. Due to its nature and mechanical construction, the CVT has infinite ratios resulting in optimal gearing for a given speed. But the rubber band effect of pressing on the throttle, engine revs rising up substantially more than the increase in speed is ever so annoying. Limit the urge of pressing hard on the throttle and the Lexus drives smoothly, flawlessly transitioning between full electric mode, to dual motor usage. While the transmission can be annoying, the NX300h doesn’t shy on it going quick abilities and a major part of it comes from the suspension. The trick suspension is called Adaptive Variable Suspension or AVS and it continuously adjusts damping rates depending upon the change in the type of road surface. This results in a ride quality that’s plush while also skillfully controlling excessive body movement.