New Lexus NX is brand’s first plug-in hybrid

The all-new Lexus NX introduces a sharp new design and the brand’s first plug-in hybrid powertrain

  • Available as a standard hybrid or plug-in hybrid
  • Comprehensive suite of safety features as standard 
  • Arriving at the end of 2021 

This is the all-new Lexus NX. It’s the first Lexus available as a plug-in hybrid and one that’s designed to mark the beginning of a new era for the Japanese brand in Europe. 

Building on the qualities of the original NX, which focused primarily on comfort, the latest model features a muscular new design and is only available with one of two hybrid powertrains. 

What is a plug-in hybrid car?

The new NX SUV shares its underpinnings with the Toyota RAV4 and has grown slightly in all directions; the wheelbase (space between the front and rear wheels) is 30mm longer than before, and the car is 20mm longer and wider, and 5mm taller. The result is a more spacious cabin, especially for passengers in the back, and more space for luggage. 

The new NX will rival the likes of the BMW X3, the Audi Q5, Range Rover Evoque and the Volvo XC60 when it arrives in Europe at the end of the year. 

2021 Lexus NX: design 

The NX retains its sharp, boxy design but Lexus’s trademark spindle grille has adopted a more upright position that accentuates the long bonnet, which seamlessly flows into the roofline before flaring broadly towards the rear wings. 

At the rear, new features include L-shaped tail lights with signature Lexus ‘blade lighting’ that spans the width of the vehicle. The Lexus badge has also been replaced with the brand name spelled out on the tailgate. 

A wider stance, enabled by the car’s new platform, with short overhangs and flared wheel arches give the NX a much more menacing appearance. 

Interior and specifications 

Full specifications are yet to be announced for the new NX but Lexus has hinted at what we can expect. 

As you’d expect from a luxury SUV, the NX’s cabin is finished in high-quality materials and, according to Lexus, is equipped with particularly comfortable front seats. Ambient interior lighting will standard on higher trims, offering a choice of 64 colours. The NX is also the first Lexus to be fitted with an e-latch electronic door release system, which replaces interior door handles with push-button switches in the door panels. It also gets a new and improved auto tailgate, which is quicker and quieter than the previous models, opening and closing in four seconds. 

The new NX is also the first model to use Lexus’s futuristic new cockpit design, previewed in the Tazuna concept car. The standard system, Lexus Link Connect, uses a 9.8-inch touchscreen display with additional buttons for speedy access to the most frequently used functions. The steering wheel gets touch-tracer switches, which Lexus says can be customised to operate the driver’s preferred functions. These functions will also appear on the optional head-up display. 

The Lexus Link Pro system, meanwhile, uses a 14-inch display – one of the largest in its class. It is standard on high grade models but is available as an option on others in the range. Both systems feature wireless Apple CarPlay integration and wired Android Auto. 

The NX introduces new smart services, including cloud navigation to provide real-time journey information and traffic updates. The system also includes a new ‘Hey Lexus’ assistant voice command tool. Owners will be able to control their NX remotely via the Lexus Link app, with the ability to lock and unlock the doors, and pre-heat or cool the cabin before starting a journey. The app and its services are standard across all NX models. NX 450h+ plug-in hybrid owners can use the app to monitor charging progress, scheduling and additional settings too. 

In yet another first, the new NX is also the brand’s first model to feature the latest generation Lexus Safety System+, which means it’s equipped with a comprehensive package of active safety and driver assistance features. Features include an upgraded Pre-Collision System with Emergency Steering Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Trace Assist and Road Sign Assist. 

Owners can add to the NX’s safety systems with an optional Extended Safety Package, available on top-spec NX models. In addition to the Lexus Safety System+ features, this provides automatic Lane Change Assistance, which can adjust acceleration when the driver indicates to overtake or move into a lane behind a slower vehicle. The package also adds a front Cross Traffic Alert system, which uses radar monitoring to detect and warn the driver of traffic approaching from either side when emerging from a junction at low speed. 

Powertrains and performance 

The NX will be available with two powertrains, including Lexus’s first plug-in hybrid (PHEV), the 450h+. The system consists of a four-cylinder 2.5-litre engine and a rechargeable 18.1kWh battery, with an additional electric motor driving all four wheels. 

The plug-in hybrid system produces 302bhp and gets the NX from 0-62mph in six seconds. According to Lexus, the NX will be capable of 94mpg and 40 miles of pure electric range, while emitting less than 40g/km of CO2 emissions.

The standard hybrid model, the 350h, uses the same 2.5-litre engine but with a smaller battery for total power of 239bhp. It has a 0-62mph time of 7.7 seconds, and will be available in front and all-wheel drive. 

Prices and an official launch date are yet to be announced but we expect the comprehensive list of safety features, improved in-car tech and hybrid technology will see the price of the NX increase from the £35,000 mark to nearer £40,000. 

Read our in-depth review of the outgoing Lexus NX SUV.

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