For many years, Lexus – together with parent company Toyota – was ahead of its rivals when it came to electrification, with hybrid technology largely fitted across its range.
However, when it comes to plug-in electric vehicle technology, it has been losing ground. This is changing. It launched its first fully-electric car, the UX300e, earlier this year and is now producing its first plug-in hybrid (PHEV), the NX450h+.
This will have plenty of appeal for company car drivers even when looking at it on paper: it has an official electric-only driving range of 43-47 miles and CO2 emissions of 20-26g/km, putting it in the 7% benefit-in-kind tax band.
Unlike some rival PHEVs, the NX450h+ also has a ‘self-charging’ hybrid system, so when the charge in the PHEV battery is depleted, it reverts to hybrid power. This means it offers a real-world fuel economy of around 55mpg in those circumstances, far more than if it was operating on petrol power alone.
Another figure which will be of interest to the driver is the combined 309PS. Acceleration is brisk when needed – the 0-62mph time of 6.3 seconds makes it one of the fastest crossovers of its kind – and the CVT gearbox helps deliver the power smoothly. It’s no hard-riding sportscar though. On our test, the NX450h+ coped brilliantly with the bumps and lumps of broken road surfaces to provide a cossetting and refined ride, making it relaxing to drive.
It also offers the practicality you would expect from an SUV of this size: there’s masses of room for all occupants, while the boot has 545-litre capacity and a completely flat load area for ease of use. The interior features the premium materials and level of build quality Lexus customers have become accustomed to, but it also includes a significant upgrade: a new multimedia platform.
Lexus has always lagged behind its premium rivals when it comes to infotainment, but the new Lexus Link system changes this. It features either a 9.8-inch or 14-inch touchscreen dependent on trim level, while the touchpad used on previous models, which had its critics for being too fiddly to operate, has also been replaced with one that relies on touch or voice commands. The result is a system that is easy to use, with menus that make sense to navigate, and a supercrisp display.
Its operating system is also faster than its predecessor – Lexus says it is 3.6 times as quick – comfortably putting the technology in line with class best.
In another first for Lexus, the NX has an e-latch electronic door release system which replaces the familiar internal door handle with a push button in the door panel. External access is via a small button on the inside of a fixed handle on the outside of the door. It incorporates Safe Exit Assist which uses the car’s blind spot monitor to prevent doors being opened into the path of vehicles and bicycles approaching from the rear.
NX 450h+ is available in five equipment grades – Premium Pack, Premium Plus Pack, F Sport, F Sport Takumi Pack and Takumi – with P11D prices starting at £48,745.
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