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Dou­ble edged

- PIC­TURES Nis­hant Jhamb

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.

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 ??  ?? 1. Pre­mium ma­te­ri­als used across the cabin. Both Lux­ury and F-Sport trims come with a long list of op­tions. 2. The lay­out of com­po­nents in the cen­tre con­sole looks a bit old-school in con­trast to the oth­er­wise con­tem­po­rary cabin. 3. CVT trans­mis­sion...
1. Pre­mium ma­te­ri­als used across the cabin. Both Lux­ury and F-Sport trims come with a long list of op­tions. 2. The lay­out of com­po­nents in the cen­tre con­sole looks a bit old-school in con­trast to the oth­er­wise con­tem­po­rary cabin. 3. CVT trans­mis­sion...
 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? 1. The petrol en­gine packs more
top-end power while the com­bina
tion with the elec­tric mo­tor com­pen
sates with more torque nec­es­sary for ini­tial ac­cel­er­a­tion. 2. A con­stant dis­play of the ICE and hy­brid mo­tors
work­ing can be mon­i­tored on the...
1. The petrol en­gine packs more top-end power while the com­bina tion with the elec­tric mo­tor com­pen sates with more torque nec­es­sary for ini­tial ac­cel­er­a­tion. 2. A con­stant dis­play of the ICE and hy­brid mo­tors work­ing can be mon­i­tored on the...
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? Likes
Styling, in­te­ri­ors, seam­less hy­brid per­for­mance, ride qual­ity
Dis­like
CVT trans­mis­sion
Likes Styling, in­te­ri­ors, seam­less hy­brid per­for­mance, ride qual­ity Dis­like CVT trans­mis­sion
 ?? Ab­hik Das Spe­cial Cor­re­spon­dent ab­hik.das@in­to­day.com
@ab­hik616 ?? VER­DICT
Hy­brids and EVs are surely the fu­ture and a not so dis­tant one. That fact jus­ti­fies the cur­rent high costs of man­u­fac­tur­ing such ve­hi­cles and their re­sul­tant steep price tags. Lexus how­ever, has man­aged to pack­age the NX300h rather well...
Ab­hik Das Spe­cial Cor­re­spon­dent ab­hik.das@in­to­day.com @ab­hik616 VER­DICT Hy­brids and EVs are surely the fu­ture and a not so dis­tant one. That fact jus­ti­fies the cur­rent high costs of man­u­fac­tur­ing such ve­hi­cles and their re­sul­tant steep price tags. Lexus how­ever, has man­aged to pack­age the NX300h rather well...

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