Lexus NX 300h F

Sport

Lexus NX 300h F Sport, front action
Lexus NX 300h F Sport, side action
Lexus NX 300h F Sport, rear action
Lexus NX 300h F Sport, dashboard
Lexus NX 300h F Sport, rear seats folded
Lexus NX 300h F Sport, rear seats
Lexus NX 300h F Sport, boot

HERE'S a car you could call a beautiful and beautifully built enigma, one that hasn't quite decided what it wants to be.

You might reckon the people behind this handsomely different machine wanted the Lexus NX to be sporty, comfortable and economical in differing degrees.

After all, it has the word Sport in its title, looks like a challenger to any biggish SUV on the comfort front and has electric motors to help out with economy.

Let's take performance first; with a 2.5-litre petrol engine and electric motor assist it ought to go a bit.

Well it does, but only a bit. A demand for maximum attack is met by an instant rise in revs from the automatic transmission and only modest acceleration after that. Honestly not sporty at all.

So perhaps it's going to be comfortable in compensation? On the right road - smoothly surfaced and bump free - the NX 300h glides along in splendid isolation, quiet of cabin and demonstrating some of the most comfortable front seats you'll find anywhere.

But find a bump or two and a coarse surface and the tyres roar and the sportily tuned suspension turns the firm side of brittle, quite at odds with the quality feel that pervades the interior.

Well, the saving grace is going to be the car's economy, surely? With a battery in the boot and electric motors for front and rear wheels, the petrol engine ought to have enough down time to do wonders for frugality.

Sadly, at anything more than a walking pace, and then not for long, the car is petrol powered and only occasionally electrical. In 500 miles of mixed motoring the car showed a very normal 38mpg average.

But let's turn to the NX's positives. Top of the list might be looks. it is decidedly handsome, with a mix of slashes and curves that give it the dynamism of a highly toned athlete, muscles tensed in the starting blocks.

Inside, this stand out styling continues in a cabin that manages to look a bit technical - lots of switches - but dripping with craftsmanlike touches, showing in lines of double stitching on the soft leather trim and convincing, but fake, alloy trim.

Any interior downside? Yes there is, in the shape of a madly irritating touch pad between the front seats that you must use to work the satellite navigation system and for many adjustments to the sound system.

Frankly, its hyperactive wish to outguess my finger's intention drove me mad. Rivals use knobs you can twist and push, to much better effect.

Ignore that irritant (and you might have nimbler fingers than me) and the rest of the car makes a better case for itself, especially if you want something a bit out of the mainstream.

FAST FACTS

Lexus NX 300h F Sport

Price: £38,245

Mechanical: 194bhp, 2,494cc, 4cyl petrol engine and electric motor driving front wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 112mph

0-62mph: 9.2 seconds

Combined MPG: 55.4

Insurance Group: 32

C02 emissions: 121g/km

Bik rating: 23%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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