Lexus NX350h – projected as a crossover but intended for the road, not the outdoors
Jhe Japanese do things differently, and the best proof of this is the izakaya. You’ll find them everywhere in Tokyo and other Japanese cities. They can be called Japanese pubs. But that would be an injustice. A izakaya is different. You don’t get the standard nachos and chicken wings from a small menu, you get an elaborate choice of dishes and there’s a formal element to it, something you’ll never encounter in these ‘restro-cum-pubs’ ” from West Delhi. The first time you enter a izakaya like a gaijin in Tokyo it’s intimidating, a bit like walking into a pub in England. Yes, at the end of a Friday night, everyone is drunk while the owners try to get you to leave.
But what does a Japanese bar have to do with a car? In fact, anything when the car in question is a Lexus.
Read also : When you sit in a Maybach, you don’t just get into a car. It’s a turn in a sacred story
Touch, feel and “entertainment”
I grew up on a steady diet of German luxury cars – from Audi and BMW to Mercedes-Benz, and while they’re all nice to sit in, when you climb into a Lexus , it’s different. Not in a fundamental sense – the steering is where it should be, as are the pedals and shifter. But there are the tactile things, things that brochure images and tons of PR information can’t convey. The feel of the stitching on the leather, both on the steering wheel and on the seats. Heck, even the plastics are different, the switchgear is really nice to the touch. Words can’t really capture the tactile feel of fingertips. It’s not like you want to sit behind the wheel, put the car in gear and shoot it down a rural backroad, of course the new second-generation Lexus NX can do that, but it’s more than that. a simple driving machine.
With its new generation of cars on the new GA-K platform, which Lexus shares with its parent company Toyota, Lexus has solved one of the main problems faced by its previous generation vehicles. They finally added some Ginza to the car. If you haven’t been to Tokyo, Ginza is the neighborhood at the heart of Japan’s capital, a hub for everything electronics, from toilet seats that can do things you don’t even want to know, to batteries fit factors you never knew existed.
The 14-inch infotainment screen is currently among the best in its class, a far cry from previous-generation Lexus vehicles where tiny standard-definition screens were eons behind what you got on a Korean SUV Rs 20- lakh. And then there’s the customizable color head-up display that you can control from the steering wheel-mounted buttons. These are surprisingly intuitive, so much so that when changing tracks in my Apple Music playlist, I really didn’t have to take my eyes off the road. Of course I could also have done it via Siri, the NX is completely integrated with Apple CarPlay like most vehicles today. If you have an Android device, you can use Android Auto. However, there is no wireless connectivity for these apps. That said, the car’s software is pretty good even if you connect your device via Bluetooth.
And there are other little touches too. Like the wireless charging tray that can slide out and reveal cup holders. There are rear view cameras and sensors that also warn you of an oncoming car when you pull out of a parking spot in a mall. There are the door latches inside the car, in the sense that there are none. Not like you’ve ever known. There’s a button to open the door but hear me out here it’s smart in the sense that if there’s a car approaching behind you it won’t let you open the door so you don’t open step out your door and have it run over by a car or worse, get out of the car into oncoming traffic.
Read also : Why e-scooters catch fire and should you really be worried about EVs
The Hybrid King
The tech it carries under the hood is what you don’t often see. Lexus has hybrid technology, which the automaker inherited from its parent company. Toyota has been a world leader in hybrid technology since the first generation Prius. And the Lexus NX350h that they just launched in India is the next generation of this technology. While the new platform will make it possible to build an all-electric NX in the future, specifically under the Akio Toyoda name, the chairman of Toyota Motor Corporation wants Lexus to become an all-electric automaker by the end of the decade. this car uses Toyota’s hybrid technology to deliver both an incredible driving experience and impeccable fuel economy.
Powering the car is the 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine, rated at 140 kW (about 188 horsepower), which is mated to a battery that powers two electric motors, a large one on the front axle and a smaller one on the rear axle. The NX, like most of its European brethren in a similar class, is primarily front-wheel drive. If you step on the accelerator, both power sources will deliver power to all wheels simultaneously and deliver a total output of 179 kW or around 240 horsepower, just slightly less than the recently launched petrol version of the Audi. Q5, which has around 246 horsepower. power. So the Lexus can get going whenever you want and hit 100 km/h from a standing start in just under eight seconds, not bad for a big, heavy car.
But while hybrid powertrains can ensure you get a healthy dose of power when you want it, where it really comes into its own is when you drive it smoothly. The NX350h’s battery isn’t very large, but stores enough energy to start the car in all-electric mode and when you’re driving, it shuts off the gas engine and drives the car in electric mode. Constantly switching between the two modes is something Toyota Camry owners in India are familiar with, and it translates to incredible fuel economy. Sure, going up and down the Sahyadri mountains at high speeds isn’t exactly great for fuel economy, but despite the car easily delivering 10 kilometers per litre, in a city with traffic and slow speeds , the system should be able to come to the front.
Of course, when you spend more than Rs 65 lakhs on a car, fuel economy might not be the first thing on your mind. That would be how the car presents itself, and here the NX really stands out from the crowd. Over the years, Lexus has established a good reputation for itself globally, and although unscrupulous importers toyed with the brand until the automaker’s official arrival in India five years ago, these damage has been repaired. However, beyond the “L” badge which can be equal to the three-pointed star or the four rings, the most remarkable feature of the NX is not only the “pin” grille or the Katana-style headlights is the overall look of this car. He has a really impressive posture and contours. It doesn’t really look like an SUV. The 20-inch wheels, which we’ll also talk about later, really stand out, especially the black ones on the F-Sport variant. The second-gen NX is wider and taller than the outgoing model, but it looks sharper, and certainly, with the possible exception of the Jaguar F-Pace, it’s the best-looking car ever. its category.
However, looking good does not mean driving well. And just as you can’t expect a supermodel to race down a ramp on stiletto heels, the 20-inch wheels are a problem on bad surfaces. The roads around Lonavala are uneven at best, non-existent at worst and without enough rubber to withstand the impact of the road, the ride quality isn’t the best. Lexus brings the NX as a complete import and therefore fits it into the standard wheel and tire combination available in other countries. Now the average luxury car, whether it’s a Lexus or not, will rarely face such horrible surfaces, indeed the roads in most Indian cities have improved dramatically over the past decade. , and on ordinary roads this car will do just fine. But unlike, say, the Audi Q5 with its Quattro system, it’s not a car you’d think outside the box. Horses for the courts as they say, and the NX, although described as a crossover, is a vehicle meant for the road, not the outdoors.
But on the road, this car when pushed is a fun machine. I drove the top-of-the-line F-Sport model, which not only has unique interiors – “Flame Red” leather and a stunning “Heat Blue” exterior color – but also special shock absorbers that improve cornering handling. With a good surface, the NX can outperform its rivals. In fact, coupled with the gadgets and gadgets, this is clearly a car designed for the people behind the wheel. And while you’re behind that wheel and if you love music, the 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio is, for lack of a nicer word, snappy.
Read also : Before Bollywood entered, Salman Khan did a Hero Honda commercial. But the CD100 bike was its star
Can Lexus stand out with NX?
The company is currently assembling its ES sedan in India. The NX will arrive in India as a full import unlike many of its aforementioned rivals, most of which are assembled in India. It also has no diesel option, no Lexus, but the hybrid system makes up for in fuel economy. Thanks to the semiconductor crisis, the NX350h will have limited supplies in India, with allocations limited to between 200 and 250 units.
And then there’s the fact that Lexus India has few showrooms across the country, just four at present – New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. However, Naveen Soni, the new Chairman of Lexus India and a former Toyota-Kirloskar Motor told me that three new showrooms in Chennai, Chandigarh and Cochin will open in the coming months and more exhibition and “satellite” workshops will soon open their doors. . “Lexus is here to stay, and although half of our official existence in India has been occupied by the pandemic, we know we can compete with our rivals,” he told me, adding that the automaker had exciting plans, possibly even expanding their assembly operations in India subject to the resolution of the semiconductor crisis.
In the end, would I buy a Lexus NX350h over its main rivals? The Lexus is more expensive than its rivals by a fair margin. The F-Sport, which I drove, has an ex-showroom price of Rs 73 lakhs, compared to the Rs 65 lakh of the BMW X3 30i MSport and Audi Q5 Technology edition. Yes, it is prettier than the German cars and drives just as well if not better. And in terms of kit, it’s more or less the same. But if you asked me where I’d like to go out for a drink, a pub or a izakaya? I would choose the latter even if the bill would end up being slightly higher.
@kushanmitra is an automotive journalist based in New Delhi. Views are personal.
(Edited by Anurag Chaubey)