Lexus NX 450h+ F SPORT PHEV

Hailed as the Japanese company’s best-seller since 2015, the latest second-generation Lexus NX is already shaping the future of the brand in Europe, while scooping industry awards along the way.

About 95 percent of parts across all models are new, and at the top is the company’s first plug-in hybrid electric model, the NX 450h+.

Lexus’ sister brand, Toyota has proven to be a trailblazer when it comes to hybrids, with a lineage dating back more than 25 years and the arrival of the original Prius.

Countless model lines followed, to the point that the entire Toyota and Lexus range are now electrified, but all were self-charging hybrids rather than plug-ins.

The 450h+ is the Halo model of the NX range, with a 2.5-litre petrol engine, a 134kW electric motor at the front, a 40kW rear motor and an 18.1kWh battery – one of the highest capacity of its kind Class.

That small amount between them produces a hefty 305 hp, enough to propel the car from 0-100 km/h in 6.3 seconds and an all-electric range of between 42 and 46 miles.

The beauty of the system, however, is that it works in all-electric mode by default, so when the battery runs out, it automatically switches to a self-charging hybrid – unlike most competing models that use an internal combustion engine.

It may not sound like a huge difference, but Lexus’ own data suggests something in the order of 30 percent less fuel consumption, so the saving in economy is obvious.

But the 450h+, available in three trim levels, NX, F SPORT and Takumi, is far more commendable than its value as a PHEV.

The plug-in item isn’t the only “first” either, as this is also the first Lexus to announce the brand’s new Tazuna cockpit concept, whose name derives from the Japanese word meaning like a rider Reins used to control a horse.

Based on the principle of “hands on the wheel, eyes on the road”, the multi-information display, multimedia screen, gauges, gauges and head-up display are grouped together so that you can read them at a glance – meaningfully and simply.

Then there are the touch tracer switches on the steering wheel, which can be customized to operate air conditioning or panoramic views, a welcome sequence with lights, graphics and sound, a push-button style electronic door release and ambient lighting in 64 different colors.

In terms of comfort, there’s plenty of that, our F SPORT model on review sports perforated leather seats in two-tone Flare Red and Black, with ample head and legroom all round, the only bottleneck if you happen to be an adult center rear passenger – the shoulder room narrow and between the feet there is a transmission tunnel.

On the road, the NX 450h+ is a pleasure to drive, whichever of the three driving modes you prefer, it feels balanced, refined and – importantly – very efficient, provided you plug into the socket with discipline.

F-Sport models come extensively equipped with 20-inch F-Sport alloy wheels and exterior highlights, including a piano black grille, black roof rails and F-Sport badging, as well as an F-Sport steering wheel, aluminum pedals and Sport -front seats.

The package also equips the car with adaptive variable suspension and performance side dampers front and rear, and along with the rest of the NX range there’s a whole host of cutting-edge safety features.

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