Lexus NX 300h

Premier

Lexus NX 300h, 2018, nose
Lexus NX 300h, 2018, front
Lexus NX 300h, 2018, side
Lexus NX 300h, 2018, side, action
Lexus NX 300h, 2018, rear
Lexus NX 300h, 2018, engine
Lexus NX 300h, 2018, boot
Lexus NX 300h, 2018, display screen
Lexus NX 300h, 2018, interior
Lexus NX 300h, 2018, centre console

IT might not be quite so radical or gobsmacking as inventing the wheel, but Toyota and its posh brother Lexus were way ahead of the pack when they forged ahead with hybrid technology.

That was some 21 years ago when the Toyota Prius first appeared. Seven years later Lexus picked up the baton and ran with it...to be followed by a rush of car makers each searching the Holy Grail that combined fuel efficiency, clean running and performance.

Back then the initials SUV were virtually unheard of and the concept of a rakish, go-anywhere five door with the luxurious interior of a prestige saloon and the thirst of a small hatchback would look fanciful.

Enter the Lexus NX 300h, a compact crossover which majors on refinement and style, recently facelifted and improved. Of course, it faces some stiff competition from the likes of Range Rover Evoque, BMW X4 and Audi Q5.

With a still more aggressive grille, remodelled headlights and uprated safety technology, the NX cuts quite a dash among some fairly staid looking rivals.

Under the bonnet is a four cylinder, 2.5-litre 16-valve petrol engine coupled to a 141bhp electric motor. Performance is smooth and refined rather than ‘electrifying' with 62mph coming up in a fairly unspectacular 9.2 seconds and a max of 112mph.

There's no option for a manual change, instead a continuous variable transmission is fitted which drives all four wheels.

But with relatively low ground clearance compared with some four-wheel-drives and a deep front spoiler, this is no mud-lugger, preferring instead life on the open road with perhaps the occasional excursion over a grassy field.

Where the NX comes up trumps is in the areas of comfort and luxury. The cabin is one of the smartest and slickest on the market with high grade fitments, superb build quality and an ambiance of a car far in excess of its £40,000-plus price tag.

Leather seats are well padded and supportive, copious switches sprinkle the centre console and alongside the gear selector while the large 10.5in touch screen sprouts out at the top of the dash.

Space is fine for four adults and perhaps the rear seats can accommodate an extra person at a squeeze. The boot platform is set quite high due to the necessary batteries. Nevertheless, there's room for 500 litres of luggage.

The NX is a smooth and an undemanding drive with low noise levels and few vices. But it doesn't involve the driver in the way that either BMW or a Jaguar F-Pace might. The steering is light and accurate but lacks sensitivity.

Relatively softly sprung, the ride is generally good though when hustled through bends there's a degree of cornering roll.

The hybrid system which works in unobtrusive fashion, does wonders for the emissions level with a CO2 of just 121g/km and although the official average is more than 50mpg, most owners will find their everyday consumption more like 35mpg, as mine was.

FAST FACTS

Lexus NX 300h Premier

Price: £44,395

Mechanical:141bhp, 2,495cc, 4cyl petrol engine with electric motor driving four wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 112mph

0-62mph: 9.2 seconds

Combined MPG: 54.3

Insurance Group: 33

C02 emissions: 121g/km

Bik rating: 25%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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