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16 Mar 2022

What We Dislike
Too expensive

The NX450h+ combines modern technology with a capable plug-in hybrid system, but the high price will likely prove prohibitive for many.


I do like a Lexus. I do enjoy the comfort, quality and classiness that a Lexus delivers. However, they aren't without fault, chief among which is the fair observation that Lexus cars often seem a little behind the curve when it comes to the tech front. Old-fashioned, some might say.

Coming to this all new NX was a little bit of shock - I wasn't quite ready for how new-school it would all feel.

Finally contemporary

The cabin has been thankfully modernised to offer contemporary equipment and functionality
It starts with how the car looks. With its large grille, bold lines and purposeful demeanour, the new look NX isn't shy about standing out. And I think it looks a lot better than before, especially in side profile.

The inside of the NX is quite a revelation, with modern digital solutions all around. There's a digital instrument cluster, as well as a head-up display with more functionality than you'd normally see.

Lexus' approach here is slightly… alternative. When you click through the steering mounted controls, instead of things happening on the digital display (which is common), instead the various options and functions are displayed on the HUD. It's initially a little odd, but once you get used to it, it actually makes plenty of sense, since you won't have to take your eyes off the road.

Crisp graphics on the 14-inch touchscreen are a major upgrade 
However, the cabin is dominated by the new 14-inch touchscreen. The new interface is such a significant improvement over the old one that it really makes you wonder why Lexus took this long. It looks and feels modern, operates with minimal lag, and just feels entirely contemporary (no more Street Directory map graphics, thank god).

It's not completely flawless - I think the digital real estate isn't fully optimised, and the climate controls take up an almost comically large amount of space. The lack of a dedicated 'Home' button is also an odd omission, so if you are using Apple CarPlay, other infotainment functions are a more keystrokes away than necessary. But, again, from a usability and viewability point of view, it's still such a step forward that you can quickly and easily look past these quirks.

Electric upgrade

The NX450h+ is very refined and civilised on the road, especially when in electric mode
This is the first plug-in hybrid (PHEV) Lexus model offered in Singapore, hence the h+ designation to distinguish it from the hybrid 350h model that's also being offered.

A 2.5-litre engine is paired with two electric motors, and the 304bhp available means that 0-100km/h takes a brisk 6.3 seconds, making for effortless overtakes.

It's a solid PHEV system. You've got a real world all electric range of about 60km on a full charge, and what I like about this PHEV system is that you can force the car to charge the battery using the petrol engine. You can also toggle between electric and hybrid drive, or let the car automatically do it for you.

Electric mode is particularly nice. Not only do you have effortless pace, but the car is also very quiet and refined. Ironically, it actually creates a rather stark contrast with the petrol engine, which just sounds and feels less refined compared to electric mode, especially when you mash the throttle.

The ability to see directly under the car is very useful to manage the car's deceivingly large footprint
Of course, the NX still excels with on-road comfort. The ride is generally very comfortable except over particularly poor roads, and the new rigid body helps body control through bends.

The NX has grown bigger (20mm longer and wider, with a 30mm longer wheelbase), and you can certainly feel that on the road. The car does feel like it has a larger footprint compared to others in its class. When negotiating tighter spaces or parking, the Panoramic View Monitor, which can show what's directly under the car (as well as the wheel positions), is extremely useful.

You also get a solid set of driver assistance systems. The car can accelerate, brake and maintain a distance from the car in front, as well as steer to keep you in the middle of the lane. That's par for course for cars in this particular segment.

Moving forward

The NX450+ delivers plenty of capability and functionality, but the hefty price tag is too hard to justify
Let's be clear, this new NX isn't the last word in technological sophistication. Many of the features, we've already seen in cars from recent years. This isn't necessarily the 'future' as much as it is Lexus catching up to the present moment, at least tech-wise.

But it works. It makes the car feel contemporary, modern, and functional, without taking away any of the traditional Lexus quality, comfort, and craftsmanship. The PHEV system also works well, providing an additional level of refinement and straight-line performance. The NX450h+ is a really good car with legitimate electric capabilities and smart solutions all around.

The big issue here, as with most PHEVs in Singapore, is price. This 450h+ variant is $357,800 (as of 10 March 2022), which is just too much money. The 350h, starting at $294,800, is almost 18% cheaper. It's even pricier than the RX, which is one size up. And, if you have regular access to charging to fully use this car's electric capabilities, you might be better off with a fully electric car (a number of premium electric SUVs are available for around the same money). And if you can't, the efficiency gains over the hybrid model probably isn't worth $50k. 

So, ultimately, as good as the car is, I think the price tag is too big for most people to swallow.
Car Information
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Lexus NX 450h+ Plug-in Hybrid 2.5 F Sport (A)
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Promotion
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Price

: $276,800 (w/o COE)

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line 16-valve

Engine Cap

:

2487cc

Horsepower

:

227kW (304 bhp) / 6000 rpm

Torque

:

227 Nm / 3700 rpm

Transmission

:

E-CVT (A)

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

6.3sec

Top Speed

:

200km/h

Fuel consumption

:

90.9km/L

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