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Lexus NX300h F Sport SUV 2014 Review

EXPERT RATING
8
Stuart Martin road tests and reviews Lexus NX300h with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Not big, not too small, the just-right comfort levels - meet the Lexus 'Goldilocks' solution, the NX. Described as such by the brand's boss in Australia, Lexus's first compact SUV is aimed at the predominantly German opposition in that segment and the next size up.

Lexus Australia chief executive Sean Hanley regards the NX300h petrol-electric hybrid, on sale now, as a unique model in a growing segment.

"Much like the pioneering RX and RX hybrid models before it, will provide customers with a fresh, new perspective on a compact SUV," he says.

The hybrid will be joined by a Lexus-developed 2.0-litre turbo (175kW/350Nm) in the first quarter of next year, with conventional six-speed auto.

In the past decade, Hanley says, luxury SUV sales have grown 15-fold and he expects the NX to be among the brand's top three sellers.

The drivetrain shared with other Lexus models and the Toyota Camry draws current from a nickel metal hydride battery and drives via a constantly variable transmission with six-speed 'manual' mode turning the front or all four wheels, depending on the model.

Standard fare for the NX, priced from $55,000 for the entry-level Luxury front-wheel drive, includes satnav, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, power heated seats, power tailgate, 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and start, 10-speaker audio with digital radio, LED low-beam lights and tyre pressure warning.

The entry car has the option of a $2500 sunroof and steps up to all-wheel drive for $59,500.

The F-Sport model is AWD-only and is priced from $66,000. It gets adaptive adjustable sports-tuned suspension, four-mode drive setup, wireless phone charging (for compatible devices), all-LED headlights, paddle-shifters and sports body add-ons.

The F-Sport also has as standard a 360-degree camera, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, auto-dimming mirrors and seat coolers.

In keeping with the growing trend, option packs reduce complexity. For the F-Sport, there are two: for $4000, you get a sunroof and 14-speaker premium Mark Levinson audio; or $7500 buys those two features and adds pre-collision auto-braking, active cruise control, lane departure warning, full-colour head-up display, automatic high beam and keyless entry.

The flagship Sport Luxury, from $75,000, goes further with leather and woodgrain trim, active cruise control, auto-braking, lane departure warning, LED headlamps with automatic high beam plus the audio and sunroof.

Also among the clever new features are electrically folding and rake-adjusting rear seats and a door handle with concealed keyhole.

The all-wheel drive has a second electric motor to drive the rear axle, with no connection to the engine.

DRIVING

A typical Lexus, the NX is a serene machine at genteel urban pace, with cabin noise well- muted and drivetrain intrusions distant and refined thanks to insulation upgrades, active noise cancelling, active engine mounts - and the absence of a rear drive shaft.

Ride quality leans to firm but compliance surpasses that of others in the segment; it sits flat under duress in the bends, feels nicely balanced and steers with reasonable ability.

The adaptive damping isn't comprehensive but tightens up in the bends when desired. Steering is direct if not razor-sharp and is weighted pleasantly enough for a spirited drive.

In press-ahead motoring in the sportier modes, revs rise only after a solid prod of the accelerator - engine noise in the upper reaches is not aurally pleasant as the CVT struggles to rein in the revs.

There is a pay-off: even when not driven with economy in mind, fuel use is reasonable.

Cabin materials have a quality feel and design is sharp but the high centre-console is a little too snug for some. The bootspace is 475L (1520L with seats down).

The touchpad for controlling the infotainment isn't a great improvement over the outgoing fixed-mouse setup.

Pricing Guides

$39,990
Based on 7 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$35,990
Highest Price
$51,980

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
NX300h F Sport Hybrid (AWD) 2.5L, Hyb/ULP, CVT AUTO $35,990 – 51,980 2014 Lexus NX 2014 NX300h F Sport Hybrid (AWD) Pricing and Specs
NX300h Luxury Hybrid (AWD) 2.5L, Hyb/ULP, CVT AUTO $32,450 – 38,610 2014 Lexus NX 2014 NX300h Luxury Hybrid (AWD) Pricing and Specs
NX300h Luxury Hybrid (FWD) 2.5L, Hyb/ULP, CVT AUTO $29,590 – 35,640 2014 Lexus NX 2014 NX300h Luxury Hybrid (FWD) Pricing and Specs
NX300h Sports Luxury Hybrid (AWD) 2.5L, Hyb/ULP, CVT AUTO $36,740 – 43,780 2014 Lexus NX 2014 NX300h Sports Luxury Hybrid (AWD) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8
Stuart Martin
Contributing Journalist

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