Lexus NX 450h+ UK Review – A Strong PHEV Contender?


The NX 450+ may be the first plug-in hybrid Lexus, but it’s been created with a greater wealth of engineering experience than has been devoted to any other mid-sized premium brand SUV segment rival. There’s up to 47 miles of all-electric driving range, sharp looks and a sumptuous cabin. It’s a strong contender.

00:00​​​​ Introduction
00:36 Background
01:36 Driving Experience
03:26 Design & Build
06:24 Market & Model Range
08:36 Cost of Ownership
10:22 Summary


It’s rather confusing that Lexus has never bought us a plug-in hybrid before the NX 450+ plug-in model we look at here. After all, the brand has championed hybrid engines for the last decade and in 2020, even bought us a full-EV, the UX 300e. But never a petrol plug-in, until this car, despite all the relevant tech being on offer to the company through parent conglomerate Toyota.

Given that kind of build-up, you’d hope for something pretty special from this petrol/electric plug-in NX and, on paper, the signs seem quite promising. This is the second generation NX design, it’s 95% completely new and there’s a completely different level of interior quality on offer. The Germans need to take this one seriously.

Driving Experience

As with any other NX (including the previous one), there’s a 2.5-litre four cylinder normally aspirated petrol engine under the bonnet paired up to an electric motor on the front axle, while another separate motor powers the rear. What’s different here is that there’s a much bigger battery powering those motors – it’s 18.1 kWh in size – which Lexus claims can give you up to 47 miles of all-electric range. Top speed in EV mode is 83mph. Total output is 305bhp. And there’s the usual Lexus Shiftmatic auto gearbox. You can expect refinement to be exemplary. And performance to be more than ample – 62mph takes 6.3s, providing you avoid the drive mode system’s ‘Normal’ and ‘Eco’ modes and select ‘Sport’.

This MK2 NX will handle the turns better thanks to a stiffer body shell, a 20mm lower centre of gravity, better weight balance and increased track width at each end. All of this, along with this MK2 NX model’s 30% stuffer GA-K chassis, has enabled the engineers here to deliver what the brand calls its ‘Lexus Driving Signature’, a supposedly ideal combination of comfort and handling dynamics apparently honed by professional racing drivers.

With so much power on tap, you don’t need to work the four-cylinder engine as hard as you would in the lesser NX 350h self charging hybrid version of this car, so there’s less ‘moo-ing’ from the CVT auto gearbox when you flex your right foot. Don’t expect a whole of the steering feedback but there’s exemplary refinement – just as you’d expect from a Lexus.

Design and Build

Unless you spot the different badging or the extra charging flap of this NX 450h+, there’s very little to clue your neighbours into the fact that you’ve bought a plug-in Lexus hybrid. This second generation NX has taken the styling themes established with the brand’s smaller UX crossover and interpreted them into a slightly larger size, with various cues from the first generation NX model. Owners of the original car might notice and find familiarity with the complex side surfacing and the ‘kick up’ around the rear C-pillar. And might also notice that this MK2 NX is quite a lot larger than its predecessor. The overall length is 4,660mm, making this car only about 2cm shorter than an Audi Q5.

The front looks suitably prestigious, the hallmark Lexus Spindle grille offering an intricate mesh pattern made up of three-dimensional U-shaped blocks. It’s flanked on higher grade variants by these 4-projector LED headlights, each unit incorporating 11 LED chips with light output controlled by a forward camera. At the rear, there’s a neat tailgate arrangement that sees the rear lamps adopt a slim wraparound signature over the rear bodywork. As in all second generation NX models, under the skin is the same GA-K chassis used in the Toyota RAV4.

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Posted by asami