The NX300h is Lexus’ newest, most-stylish and most affordable crossover. Like the ES300h sedan and the RX450h crossover, the NX300h is also a hybrid and that will be one of its key highlights.

The NX300h looks unique and the design is stunning, although a bit disproportionate at times. The spindle-shaped front grille, sharp cuts and creases all along the exteriors and rather unconventional design cues make it stand apart. You also get 18-inch wheels, LED headlights and tail-lights with dynamic turn indicators, a roof spoiler and a large fixed panoramic glass roof.

The unconventional design is carried over on the inside too, and the dashboard is a mixture of different styling elements, yet it all manages to look pleasing. The black and white theme with contrast stitching looks tasteful, but what’s even better is the quality of the soft-touch materials, aluminium panels, soft synthetic leather seats and a steering wheel that’s great to hold. However, look hard enough and you will find some switchgear is shared with Toyota cars and the key fob looks especially low-quality for a car of this price.

Lexus has fitted the F-Sport variant with a different set of front seats, which feel very supportive but miss out on the ventilation function that the Luxury variant gets both in the front and at the back—the F-Sport gets heated front seats and steering wheel. While there’s ample leg and knee room for the back seat, under-thigh support is less because of the low-set seats. What’s standard is the 360-degree camera with front and rear parking sensors, electric steering adjustment, auto headlamps and wipers, wireless mobile charging, a heads-up display, steering-mounted paddle shifters, an electric tail-gate with the hands-free boot opening/closing function, and a long list of safety features too, including eight airbags, vehicle stability control and an anti-theft system.

It gets the same 10.3-inch infotainment screen as other Lexus cars in India. Lexus is now offering navigation as standard with its cars. Also, what needs to be mentioned is the 14-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, which sounds fantastic.

This one’s a hybrid and like the Lexus ES300h and the Toyota Camry Hybrid sedan, it is powered by a 2.5-litre petrol motor rated at 197hp and 210Nm. This NX is all-wheel drive, so there’s one electric motor powering the front wheels, one powering the rear wheels and one generator that works as an engine starter as well as recharges the battery packs. Because of the heavy batteries, the car tips the scales at nearly 1.9 tonnes. The combined battery and petrol power results in excellent responsiveness to throttle inputs. Its e-CVT, although smooth, begins to sound strained under hard acceleration though. The NX300h actually urges you to drive in a sedate manner. The engine is silent and you will not feel vibrations at cruising speeds.

The NX300h comes with what Lexus calls “adaptive variable suspension" that continuously adjusts based on the conditions. The suspension is on the softer side and over bumpy surfaces, there’s some amount of vertical movement. Despite the large 18-inch wheels, the 225mm tyres do well to handle bad surfaces. The steering is really sharp and inspires confidence while driving in a spirited manner. Because of the regenerative brakes, the initial bite is quite sharp but beyond that, the slightly sluggish response takes a while to get used to.

This NX300h looks stylish and will definitely stand out in a crowd. It is a comfortable car to be in and is silent, with vibration-free hybrid power. It could be quite fuel efficient too, with a claimed rating of 18.32km per litre. It is priced at Rs53.18 lakh (ex-showroom) for the Luxury variant and Rs55.58 lakh for the F-Sport variant, and competes with the BMW X3, Mercedes GLC and the Land Rover Discovery Sport.

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