New Lexus NX brings brand’s first PHEV

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Lexus has reinvented its NX crossover with the brand’s first-ever plug-in hybrid powertrain as well as a completely new multimedia platform.

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Due on sale by the end of this year, the second-generation NX will include a flagship 450h+ PHEV that draws on the carmaker’s 15-plus years of making hybrid electric technology.

The PHEV teams up a four-cylinder 2.5-litre hybrid engine and two motors, one front and one rear, giving all-wheel drive. Power for the motors comes from an 18.1kWh lithium-ion battery – said to be the highest capacity in its class – which enables all-electric driving at speeds up to 135km/h and with an EV range of 63km.

Estimated WLTP CO2 emissions for the PHEV are less than 40g/km with fuel economy of less than 3l/100km – also said to be class-leading.

And when the battery is depleted, the NX 450h+ switches to a traditional full hybrid ‘self-charging’ set-up, which Lexus says can bring up to 20% greater efficiency than rivals.

The line-up also gets a latest-gen hybrid NX 350h model, available in both front- and all-wheel drive versions and with a 1.5-tonne towing capacity. Power is up by 22% compared to the current NX 300h, taking output to 242hp and improving the 0-100km/h sprint time by 15% to 7.7 seconds. And CO2 emissions are expected to fall by around 10%.

The second-gen NX also gets dynamic improvements. It’s based on the brand’s Global Architecture K (GA-K) platform and will sit 20mm lower while both front and rear tracks are increased, giving improved front/rear weight balance, and it deploys a new suspension design.

The new NX also brings increased onboard space. Overall length is up by 20mm, the wheelbase by 30mm, the width by 20mm and the height by 5mm – particularly benefiting rear seat passengers.

The latest NX also marks a new design direction for Lexus and introduces a new interior cockpit concept, grouping key displays such as the multimedia screen and multi-information display together in order to cut driver distraction. In the same way, controls are also placed logically.

The multimedia platform also marks a new debut for Lexus and introduces smart services, including a cloud-based navigation system, via the car’s data connection module (DCM) – so drivers don’t have to use their own data plan. A 9.8-inch display comes as standard, rising to 14 inches on higher-grade models, and a new “Hey Lexus” assistant responds to natural voice commands.

The new NX also debuts an ‘e-latch’ electronic door release system, which replaces the internal door handle with a push-button switch and features a warning of oncoming cyclists or vehicles. The brand believes this can help prevent 95% of the accidents caused by door opening.

A raft of other safety features come as part of the third generation of the Lexus Safety System+, including updated versions of the Pre-Collision System, Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Trace Assist.

The new NX will launch in the UK and Europe during the last quarter of 2021. Specifications and prices will be announced nearer the launch date.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. Natalie edits all the Fleet World websites and newsletters, and loves to hear about any latest industry news - or gossip.