2018 Lexus NX300h India Review, First Drive

Enchanting –

  • One of a kind aesthetics, stand apart
  • Efficient, green and docile engine
  • Spacious and feature loaded
  • Well priced

Unsatisfying –

  • Interior cluttered with buttons
  • Infotainement needs an upgrade

Mumbai rains and mid-size luxury SUV’s, they are just pouring in. They rains give you two options, stay at home or swim to the office. Midsize Luxury SUV give you six options. One of them is the newly launched Lexus NX300h. The brand itself is also new to the market. The manufacturer says they have no sales goals or do not entirely compete with anyone because their powertrain is so different that nobody is even close to offering anything like this.

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Lexus also offers the same concept in terms of exterior and interiors. The party pack is that the pricing is almost similar to all its five rivals. We spent time with four of its rivals, today, its time for us to test something from the land of the rising sun and the city of technology. How is it like? We spend quality time with the SUV to tell you what it offers you.

Design

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The styling is one of the critical aspects that is grabbing a lot of attention. Ever element is sharp and reminds of something that can slice through things. The tick mark shape inspired DRL below the headlights, the small, but LED lights look purposeful, the large grille grabs the most of attention and sets it apart, the contoured large bumper, the small but muscular clamshell bonnet all help it stand out.

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The side profile, especially the window line looks like a large scissor in the way the window kink ends. The Diamond cut alloy wheels which are 18-inch are a perfect fit. The tail-lamps are sharp and long and have piano black surrounds which make it sporty and edgy. The rear doesn’t match the entire car well, but it completes the SUV well and in a sophisticated manner.

Interior

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At first glance, the interior is plush and airy thanks to the light beige color being used along with black. Leather on top of the dashboard is great and which can be seen on the passenger side as well. The plastic used on the driver side is not so great and can be seen in other places as well, which are far away from the human hand on a daily basis. Also, the center console is high mounted and the amount of buttons used on it and below, in the center console area, is way too much and it takes time getting used to. We wish Lexus updates the NX quickly and gets rid of as many buttons as possible. Despite the fact that they feel nice to operate and are high quality.

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Stalks come from the Toyota Family, the odo and trip meter can be adjusted behind the steering wheel, the brightness of the cluster can be adjusted from the same place. The steering mounted controls allow you to access everything. The infotainment system, on the other hand, is operated by a mouse type pad on the center console which is quite distracting but it takes more than the usual amount of time getting used to. Space in the rear is segment best when it comes to head, leg, knee and shoulder room. The boot is a bit compromised because its raised and has a full-size spare wheel.

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Features include 360° Panoramic View Monitor, Rear View Camera with Back Guide Monitor, LED Front Fog Lamps + Cornering Lamps, USB / iPod Playback Function / AUX, AM/FM Tuner / DVD Player, Phone Bluetooth, the fantastic Mark Levinson Premium Audio System with 14 Speakers. Electrically Adjustable Steering Wheel, Auto Retractable Wing Mirrors, Electrochromic (EC) Inside Rear View Mirror, Ventilated Front Seats, Front and Rear Seat heater, Seat Lumbar Support, 8-Way Power Adjustable Front Seats, Memory Seat (Driver), Panoramic roof (Fixed glass), Dual-Zone Independent Climate Control and Power Tailgate with Kick sensor. There is a lockable glovebox. The HUD brightness and position can be changed,

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Feature set also includes, Smart Keyless Go, Start / Stop Technology, LED Daytime Running Lamps, cornering lamps, LED Headlamps, Auto-Levelling, Headlamp Cleaner, Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS),Cruise Control, Power Folding Rear Seats 60/40, New Generation Lexus Remote Touchpad Interface, Wireless Device Charger, Touch Capacitive Light Switches, Auto Rain Sensor, Drive Mode Select (Eco, Normal, Sport, Sport +, Custom), Lexus Integrated Navigation System with 10.3-inch Display Screen, Door Handles with LED Illumination and Hidden Keyhole. Safety equipment includes 8 SRS Airbags, Electronic Parking Brake (EPB,)Vehicle Stability Control (VSC),Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS),Hill Start Assist and Traction Control System (TCS).

Engine

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The hyrbid-gasoline powertrain is on offer with the NX as well, which is already BSVI compliant. The motor is the same 2.5 litre 4-cylinder making 194 BHP of power and 214 Nm of torque. The engine NVH levels are fantastic as you cruise around at any speed. Start pushing the SUV and the engine does get mildly audible.

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There is driveability on offer in the city. Mid-range and top-end power is good, but the top speed is limited to just 180 km/hr which is less for a luxury car despite the fact it is just aplenty for Indian roads. Hybrid system works really well. You can use the EV mode if you end up charing the batteries entirely. The braking and deacceleration help you charge those same batteries. Our testing delivered a respectable 8.9 km/l.

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Engine is smooth throughout, mated to an E-CVT, it has the rubber band effect and in sport mode it makes the motor more responsive and pulls a little more eagerly. The eco and normal mode along with sports S+ mode are also on offer and provide the power delivery as the name of modes suggests. The sports mode is there for the CVT as well as there are 7 steps of CVT to choose from. Overall performance and kick in the pants is missing which we saw in the ES because the NX at 1900 kgs is heavy and dulls the performance to a small extent.

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Ride and Handling

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Dynamically, power was sent to all four wheels via a four wheel drive system. All four wheels were drive-by electric motors. The front wheels could churn out 142 PS and 270 Nm of torque. Meanwhile, the rear could churn out 67 PS of power and 139 Nm of torque from its electric motors. The all-wheel-drive gave good grip all around even in some sticky muddy situations. The ride quality was quite stiff at 38 PSi in the tyres.

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Lowering it to 32 PSi made a lot of difference and this is what we suggest as the thuds get a lot louder as tyre pressures go high. Lexus hasn’t used the Indian specific Psi rating on its tyre air pressure sticker on the door. The steering and suspension changed a bit in the sports mode. However, the steering continues to be not so feedback rich in any given mode. It is light and precise to a large extent which makes it easier to live with. Brakes were good with a decent pedal bite. Body roll is well controlled and it isn’t outright sporty SUV like its competitors.

2018 Lexus NX300h India Review, Verdict

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Overall, we think the Lexus NX300h has what it takes to stay relevant in this category as the stand out features which also excludes it from its class. As a stand-alone product, it does need some quirkiness solved, which can be seen with the interior. A more powerful engine would also make the SUV a little more desirable. However, the pricing, the styling, the distinguishing character of the SUV and the brand known for its quality and reliability should attract a lot of customers because it has a lot of strong points which customers today look in the market and that is exclusivity. Lexus has almost hit the sweet spot with the NX and it is worthy of a second look.

From INR 54,78,000 (Ex-Showroom India)

NX300h India Review
  • Design
  • Interior
  • Space
  • Features
  • Performance
  • Dynamics
  • Practicality
  • Value
  • Safety
4.7

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