The price starting north of Rs 63 lakh (ex-showroom), Lexus NX300h, I must say, isn’t the go-to choice against the likes of Mercedes-Benz GLC, BMW X3 and Range Rover Evoque. But hold on. The entry-level Lexus isn’t here to write an examination, instead, it is aiming to carve a niche of evolved and responsible customer base.
The 2.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine, for instance, is ultra-refined to operate. It’s adequately punchy in the mid-range with a well spread-out torque curve. The 400-odd kilometres with Lexus NX300h, the SUV pottered through crawling city traffic, or sprinted on fast-paced highways, seldom did I intend to take over the transmission control via shift paddles. The e-CVT gearbox is generously responsive and unassumingly performs its duties.
Supporting this 194-horsepower SUV is 155 kW permanent synchronous motor, which acts as the second fiddle. In times of starting off the block or maintaining speed under 40 kmph in cities, the hybrid engine assumes the role of the main protagonist. In return, you are reward with mileage as high as 18 kmpl.
The switch between the electric motor and the petrol engine happens in an unassuming manner, without altering your drive experience. The NX300h isn’t the quickest in drag races. Lexus claims a 0-100 kmph in 9.2 seconds, which is almost 2 seconds slower than GLC. But in all honestly, such is the demeanor of NX300h, I never tried or wanted to push this Lexus to achieve lightning numbers.
The bulky steering builds heft with a climbing speedo needle. The directional feedback from the steering is precise and the 2-tonne SUV is quite fun to throw around the corners. The ride quality is comfy and plaint, much like you would wish from a Lexus. The double-wishbone suspension at the rear shocks counters bumps with ease and surprisingly it is not petrified if you throw the NX300h at moderately good speeds over rocky or slushy terrain.
The tactile feel of various touchpoints in the cabin is key to a wholesome travelling experience. Every cut, crease, fold, and inlay in the dashboard of NX300h has a rich feel. Soft quilts, brushed aluminium inserts, grainy and gradient plastics lift the premium mood of the dash. The classic circular clock sticks its neck out, completing an already perfect interior theme.
The infotainment and driver’s display spoil the experience somewhat. The layout of both the screens is dated as if the concept was imbibed from a Jurassic age. Nevertheless, however simple they might look, they still pack plenty of data.
The visibility from the front row is clear and wide. A-pillars don’t come in the way of your sideways vision. Features like auto-sensing wipers, headlamps cleaners, cornering fog lamps and LED headlamps auto-levelers may go unnoticed but definitely go a long way in easing out the drive experience in rain or at night.
Creature comforts of the Lexus NX300h are thoughtfully engineered. All the seats offer a ventilation facility. The one-touch function for folding the rear seats is quite handy. NX300h doesn’t feature a sun roof, yet the fixed glass top is massive and leads to an expansive view of the sky.
The wireless charging pad in the central stowage area is complimented by multiple USB ports. Lexus NX300h supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, yet unlike most of its rivals lacks connected tech.
The hybrid battery consumes a good amount of space at the rear, eating into the boot. For an SUV longer than 4.6 metres, the usage area in the boot stands at 475 litres.
Pricing per se, Lexus NX300h has cut-throat competition. The European brand offensive breathes heavily down the neck. But does Lexus really care? The NX300h is unrivaled in terms of what it has to offer.
Engine: 2.5-litre + hybrid electric
Transmission: e-CVT (All-Wheel Drive)
Dimension (mm): 4,650 X 2,130 X 1,645
Wheelbase: 2,660 mm