WITH UK sales the best for seven years combined with the launch of the much acclaimed Lexus NX hybrid compact crossover SUV this could be a vintage year for Toyota’s luxury vehicle division for the NX is a car that is set to provide a big boost for the Japanese firm writes Bryan Longworth.
For the NX which will be competing against rivals like the Range Rover Evoque, BMW X3 and Audi Q5 has striking muscular styling with big street appeal and is arguably the most attractive Lexus from the company which bodes well for the future.
And not only does the NX look good from the outside there is also a top quality appearance and feel about the very spacious and comfortable interior which helps to make it such a competitive car against those rivals from Germany and the UK.
Apart from the entry level NX the other five models have four wheel drive which is essential in this market sector and there is a choice of a petrol engine or a petrol hybrid all with automatic transmission.
My test car was the Lexus NX 300h Luxury priced at £34,495 which is about mid way in the NX range and has a top speed of 112mph with a zero to 62mph time of 9.2 seconds a combined fuel consumption of 54.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 121g/km.
The first time I saw the NX I realised that it was a car that would create an immediate favourable impact both in dealer showrooms and out on the streets and when I started driving the Lexus with its user friendly steering wheel it felt just right with well balanced steering and quality handling.
When pressing the start button there is an eerie silence but a graphic on the fascia indicates the car is ready for moving off until the 2.5-litre petrol engine kicks in with a second electric motor in addition to the hybrid petrol and electric powertrain driving the rear wheels delivering extra torque where it is needed in four wheel drive.
The car is loaded with standard kit including leather seats that are heated and electrically adjustable up front plus front and rear LED lighting, space saver spare wheel, pre-crash safety system and radar controlled rear parking alert that warns the driver of potential collisions when reversing out of a parking space.
The large hatchback is operated automatically and it rises to reveal a spacious load area with a space saver spare wheel underneath which is an added bonus instead of the dreaded puncture repair kits that are now in many cars and from my experience are not something you can rely on like a spare wheel.
The hybrid combination of petrol and electric power offers the NX driver an exceptionally quiet and refined drive that must be one of the best in the business and makes for very relaxed motoring especially on long motorway trips.
My only reservation about the NX is that there is no diesel engine available as all the competitors have an oil burner in their range and while the petrol hybrid is offered instead I feel that some owners and potential owners would still prefer to have a diesel unit under the bonnet.
With the NX Lexus has filled a gap in its range that will make it more competitive boosting those rising sales figures as more drivers wanting a premium compact crossover now have another car to consider as well as those mentioned earlier.
Model: Lexus NX 300h Luxury.
Engine: 2.5-litre four cylinder petrol plus electric motor.
Output: Combined petrol and electric 195hp.
Transmission: Automatic all wheel drive.
Top speed: 112mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 9.2 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 54.3mpg combined.
CO2 emissions: 121g/km.