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First drive: Lexus NX450h

Date: 04 January 2022   |   Author: Martyn Collins

Much more than just the second-generation NX, this Lexus is the brand's first plug-in hybrid electric model.
Standard equipment:
Bi-LED headlights with automatic high beam, LED daytime running lights, power tailgate, power door mirrors, heated front seats, Lexus Link Connect multimedia system.
Hybrid: 244hp 2.4
Plug-in hybrid: 309hp 2.4
Equipment grades:
NX, F Sport, Takumi
CVT automatic

Launched in 2014, the original NX was Lexus's best-selling model in Europe with more than 175,000 sold. Now it's back, with Lexus claiming "it opens the next chapter for the brand".

To do this, the new mid-size model gets a fresh look inside and out, a new platform and updated infotainment. Most importantly in the NX450h+, Lexus has its first plug-in hybrid electric model. 

Outside, the new NX is best described as an evolution rather than revolution. However, by using the new Lexus Global Architecture K (GA-K) underpinnings, the new NX is 20mm longer and has a 30mm longer wheelbase. Plus, it's 20mm wider and 5mm taller. Apart from the additional length, you'll spot the new NX by its more upright grille, mesh pattern and new headlights, which include the DRLs and are fitted with projector LEDs on top models. 

At the side, the new NX has distinctive rear haunches and softer metal detailing. This Lexus can be identified by its signature blade rear lighting - which now spans the width of the model. Plus, the Lexus emblem has been replaced by the word 'LEXUS' spelt out across the tailgate. 

Inside, there are significant changes for this latest model. Most notable is the new infotainment, with entry-level getting a 9.8in screen and top models getting a massive 14in high-definition touchscreen - one of the largest in its class. Highlights include up-to-the-moment route information, with cloud navigation as standard, a voice recognition system that responds to conversational commands, such as the 'Hey Lexus' assistant and over the air updates. Elsewhere, the new NX debuts Lexus's new Tazuna driver's cockpit concept, which basically means all the displays are grouped, so they can be read at a glance. The head-up display also has three modes, giving maximum or minimum information. 

The number of switches has been reduced and they have been grouped according to their function. They've even done away with the interior door handles, replacing them with their e-latch system. To get out, there are small buttons in the door panel. It works in a smooth, Tesla-like way and Safe Exit Assist, which works with the Blind Spot Monitor, prevents the doors  from being opened into the path of traffic.  

The new infotainment is certainly easy to use on the move, the switchgear seems well placed and the longer wheelbase equals more space. It certainly feels less cramped than before, and now has a 545-litre boot that can be extended to 1,436-litres with the rear seats down. 

There is an NX350h self-charging hybrid version, but of more interest to fleet buyers is the NX450h+ that we drove and its 7% BiK figure. This is thanks to the hybrid technology, with a new four-cylinder 2.5-litre petrol engine at the front, that is mated with a 13kW front electric motor, a 40kW rear electric motor and a 18.1kWh lithium-ion battery.   

The result is 306hp, yet CO2 emissions ranging between 20 to 26g/km and up to 61 miles EV-only power, both dependent on grade and equipment. With recharging, 100% is capable in around 2.5 hours via a 230V/32A connection and the on-board charger. Cleverer is that when power from the EV battery runs out, the NX450h+ operates as a full hybrid, bringing all the economy and emissions benefits of the system. 

On the road, with the lower centre of gravity and wider tracks that are part of the new Global Architecture, the NX is a tidy handler despite its tall SUV shilouette. The ride is also impressively resolved and refined - apart from around town, where it's more troubled. 

There are three driving modes for the NX450h: it starts in EV mode for zero-emissions driving, while Auto EV/HV mode is where this car chooses the perfect mode for the conditions, or HV mode which maintains the battery's state of charge. Like the ride, the drive is refined for the most part. The only time it isn't is under heavy acceleration, or in the Sport mode on the gearbox, where the engine makes itself known with its thrashy tone.

The new Lexus NX450h+ is not a cheap option, with prices starting at £48,800, but with its extra practicality and the impressively low running costs thanks to the hybrid drivetrain, it's worthy of serious consideration against German rivals.

Lexus NX 450h+ F Sport  

P11D: £54,745

Residual value: £21,699

Depreciation: £33,046

Fuel: £1,436

Service, maintenance and repair: £3,247

Cost per mile: 62.88p

Fuel consumption: 256.9-313.9mpg

CO2 (BIK %): 20-26g/km (7%) 

BIK 20/40% a month: £64/£128

Luggage capacity: 545 litres

Engine size/power: 2487cc/185hp plus 185hp and 54hp electric motors


  • Refinement
  • Good to drive
  • EV range
  • Not cheap
  • Refinement suffers if driven hard