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Lexus NX 450h (2021 - )

The Lexus NX 450h boasts a brand new look, upgraded on-board technology and improved handling.

Starting price:
£60,700

Why we love it:
  • More aggressive design suits the NX and adds to its appeal
  • Punchy hybrid system works well and offers a decent EV-only range
  • High-end interior and packed with tech
Where it could be better:
  • Quite pricey
  • It all gets a little noisy under heavy acceleration
  • Massive grille can divide opinion

Introduction

Lexus NX 450h

The Lexus NX 450h SUV will always have its place in the motor car history books as it is the first plug-in hybrid Lexus model, featuring a 2.5-litre petrol engine and an 18.1kWh lithium-ion battery. 

With an EV-only driving range of between 43 and 47 miles which is easily enough to cope with the average daily commute, then there is the punchy four-cylinder engine to fall back on for longer journeys.

Customers can choose from trim levels ranging from the standard NX to Premium Plus Pack, F Sport Premium Plus and F Sport Takumi. In addition, there are add-ons to trims such as a Sunroof specification or with the very latest Lexus Link Pro infotainment system.

The NX is now in its second generation boasting 95 per cent new parts compared to its predecessor, along with the introduction of plug-in hybrid technology.

There are high hopes for this car and quite rightly so. After all, the NX has been Lexus’ best-selling model in the UK since 2015. 

Lexus NX 450h

The Lexus NX is a full-sized, five-door SUV with a strong road presence and one of the most distinctive front spindle grilles around, which has become quite a trademark for the Japanese carmaker. It has been designed in a more upright position to improve the airflow to the engine and it houses the company logo.  

The slim headlights and L-shaped daytime running lights make the car instantly recognisable at night and this is just as prominent from the rear too where the L-shaped lights theme continues, along with a light blade spanning the width of the vehicle.

The LEXUS name on the tailgate replaces the traditional badge and our test car, in Premium Plus Pack specification, also boasted privacy glass and black alloy wheels.

Moving inside, the NX 450h oozes class and elegance as is the Lexus way with the main focal point and nerve centre being a crystal clear 14-inch multi-media infotainment screen. This is the access point to the sat nav, smartphone connection with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 10-speaker sound system with DAB, Bluetooth and much more. 

There is a separate section at the bottom of the screen that houses all the climate control settings with practical dials to adjust the temperature and touch pads for the heated seats and steering wheel adjustments.

In addition, tracer buttons on the steering wheel and the “Hey Lexus” voice assistant are simple ways to control many on-board features.

Without going into too much design-speak, the latest NX is the first model to feature the new Tazuna driver’s cockpit concept. This set-up has been developed to ensure the driver spends the maximum amount of time with their hands on the steering wheel rather than fiddling around searching for buttons and switches. And I can honestly say, it all works exceptionally well.

Factor in the clear driver information screen and a head-up display, then all the vital numbers such as speed and EV range can be viewed with minimal distraction.

On The Road

Lexus NX 450h

Handling & Performance

Powering the Lexus NX 450h+ is a four-cylinder, 2.5-litre, naturally-aspirated petrol hybrid engine, alongside a 134kW front electric motor, a 40kW rear electric motor, a hybrid transaxle and an 18.1kWh lithium-ion battery delivering a total output of 305bhp. 

This results in some pretty impressive performance stats for a family SUV that weighs in around the two-tonne mark. It can reach 62mph from a standing start in 6.3 seconds and has a maximum speed of 124mph. It is possible to drive the vehicle in EV-only mode with a range of up to 47 miles and the maximum speed in this EV setting drops to 83mph.

The NX 450h is sharp out the starting blocks and the acceleration through the refined e-CVT transmission is both smooth and responsive. If you plant your accelerator foot down too heavily, there is a little protest, but generally the transmission was up to the task. 

With great all-round visibility, this vehicle will be perfect for that dreaded school run with cars, cycles and children darting out from all angles, but it’s also very composed when faced with twisting lanes too. It can be pushed on into sharper bends with a degree of confidence and body sway is kept to a minimum.

And, when longer journeys are necessary, the NX is a very capable cruiser that will effortlessly eat up motorway miles for fun.

The steering is well weighted with ample driver feedback and drive modes also add to the fun. These are called Eco, Normal and Sport with additional settings to hold or boost the EV charge etc. A Trail mode is offered for the first time on a Lexus which brings into force added grip via the AWD system

Special mention to the high levels of refinement within the vehicle too. The cabin is well insulated meaning all occupants are protected from any engine, tyre or wind noise. And the highly effective suspension system somehow manages to smooth out most bumps and dips along the way too. 

Lexus NX 450h

Space & Practicality

The second-generation NX has had quite a growth spurt. At 4,660mm in length it is longer than its predecessor and also wider and taller measuring 1,865mm and 1,670mm respectively.

This is very good news for occupants, especially those passengers travelling in the back of the car as a longer wheelbase has resulted in extra cabin space. In fact, a trio of adults could easily fit in the back of the NX or two in extreme comfort.

The boot, accessed via a powered tailgate, can hold 545 litres of kit, increasing to 1,436 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. Thanks to clever packaging the load compartment is the same as the NX 350h mild hybrid model so the extra plug-in technology has not impacted on storage space.

Elsewhere there are numerous practical compartments throughout the vehicle, such as a lockable glovebox, a deep central cubby, wireless charging pad, door bins, seat back pockets, plus front and rear cup holders.

Battery recharging can be completed in around 2.5 hours using a 230V/32A connection and the 6.6kW on-board charger.

And with family adventures in mind, the car is equipped with Lexus’ intelligent E-Four electric all-wheel drive system and boasts a towing capacity of 1.5 tonnes.

Ownership

Lexus NX 450h

Running Costs

The NX 450h line-up is priced from £54,950 for the entry-level NX Premium Pack version and rises to £65,295 for the NX 450h Takumi with Sunroof model.

Our test car, the NX 450h Premium Plus Pack, cost £60,700, although some specialist metallic paint added a further £1,020 to the final price-tag.

When it comes to the day-to-day running costs, the official WLTP-tested fuel efficiency figure of 257mpg would only ever realistically be seen if the battery was regularly charged and the EV-only range used to its maximum potential.

However, the low carbon emissions figure of 25g/km will bring with it a number of financial rewards. For example, it will result in a low first year road tax bill of just £10 increasing to the annual reduced fee for hybrids of £170 after 12 months. But as the car has a price in excess of £40,000 it is subject to a government premium car levy of £370 for five years starting from year two.

For any business drivers considering the NX 450h as a company car, it has a Benefit in Kind tax rating of eight per cent and the model, as tested, sits in insurance group 38.

Another plus point of note are the very high residual values on Lexus models so the cars tend to hold their value well.

The NX 450h comes with a standard three-year, 60,000-mile warranty, although customers have the option to sign up to Lexus Relax. This extends the warranty policy to 10 years or 100,000 miles provided the car is serviced through approved Lexus centres. And it is fully transferable if the vehicle is sold on.

Verdict

Lexus has taken its best-selling model in the UK and added the extra wow factor without scaring away any of its loyal customer fanbase.

It boasts a brand new look, upgraded on-board technology and improved handling. 

And when you also take into account the comprehensive list of safety features and driver assistance aids, including the clever e-latch system that prevents the door opening into the path of a passing cyclist, it will come as little surprise to learn this latest NX is already notching up impressive sales figures.

By Maxine Ashford
Aug 29, 2023

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