Lexus is fighting hard for a place in the luxury compact SUV market, and the Lexus NX300h is sure to help them hold their own against BMW, Mercedes, Audi, and the other Asian carmakers. On the exterior, it has the same high roofline and short body style that seems to sit on tiptoe over a crowded wheelbase that’s common to the genre. Lexus has opted for gaudy and bold design elements to set itself apart from its competitors, with uneven results. It has a giant cowcatcher front grill that looks somewhat out of scale on the car, and is poorly integrated into the front end, plus thin, rakish headlights in sharp, angular shapes that don’t quite knit together.
The Interior Only Looks Utilitarian
The interior tries hard to look utilitarian, but still looks like a tricked-out luxury car more than a true sports utility. The cabins of luxury compact SUVs like the Lexus are slightly small, but every surface is well appointed, and it’s almost impossible to feel uncomfortable in any seat in the Lexus NX300h. While luxury seems to override utility in the car, if you fold down the rear seat, it turns the back into a big, flat, carpeted cargo hold as big as any compact SUV can boast.
A Capable Powerplant Under the Hood
Under the hood, there’s a cutting-edge hybrid 2.5-liter 4-cylinder that delivers 197 horsepower, and will push the Lexus NX300h from standing start to 100 kilometers per hour in 9.3 seconds. That’s not exactly racecar numbers, but the 6-speed automatic ensures you can keep winding it up to 180 kilometers per hour at the top end.
Attracting Buyers With All Kinds of Extras
The Lexus NX300h seems to want to attract buyers by offering more bells and whistles than by pure performance or style, and the car is available with a lot of flashy equipment. Of course the engine recovers power with two different hybrid systems in order to make it more fuel-friendly. Daytime running lights are part of a package of innovative headlamp design. LED projector headlamps are super-bright, and automatically dim when there’s a car approaching, and are augmented with integral LED fog lamps to help you find your way in the worst weather conditions.
On the dash, there’s a big seven-inch color panel to display navigation and multimedia, and integrates a panoramic view monitor that makes it easy to see everyone on the road around you even with the typically small windows you’ll find in most all small SUV models. There’s a blind spot monitoring system built-in, too, which incorporates rear cross-traffic alert to make backing out of a parking space easier and safer. There are airbags everywhere in the cabin to protect every passenger from impacts in any direction.
The Lexus NX300h has an interesting naming strategy. The lowest priced model, coming in at around 2.8 million baht, is called the Luxury. Then comes Grand Luxury, Premium, Premium 4 Wheel, F-Sport, and the F-Sport 4-Wheel which goes for almost 4 million baht. That’s a lot of money for a small crossover SUV, but Lexus is betting that they can lure the buyer who wants a useful runabout that has every luxury appointment and cutting-edge safety feature available on the market today in any class.
Posted: 03 November 2014