Accustomed to driving petrol cars most of our lives, we weren’t expecting too much from a Plug-in Hybrid EV (PHEV). Just one look at the 2022 Lexus NX 450h+ F Sport was all it took to know we were about to get behind the wheel of something incredibly special.
With Titanium metallic paint, black coated 20-inch alloy rims, and that spindle front grille, combined with the integrated 3-eye projector headlamps and signature L-shaped daytime running lights (DRL) made this car look astute, mean and stylish, all at once.
Open the driver’s door, and wow, that’s an impressive interior. You instantly feel it, before even sitting in those ultra-modern seats. The F Sport styling, with smooth Flare Red leather, is something else.
Inside you’ll find powered front driver/passenger seats, with heating and ventilation, a heated leather sports steering wheel with touch controls, and aluminium pedals, shift lever and push button start. It feels like the cockpit of a private jet.
The best thing about the 2022 Lexus NX 450h F Sport though is the fact that what you see is what you get. Everything is included for the drive away price tag of $99,908 (even the metallic Titanium paint).
It’s a well designed 5-seat SUV that offers edgy design, with a luxury bent. This car is the definition of flexibility and lifestyle, even for the most fastidious buyer, delivering all the power and economy you’re ever likely to need.
Powered by a 2.5-litre petrol engine, paired with an 18.1kWh high capacity lithium-ion battery, the NX delivers 227kW of combined power (136kW from the engine, 134kW from the front e-motor and 40kW from the rear).
Paired with a CVT, torque is 227Nm, 270Nm and 121Nm respectively from the three power sources. It is said to sip just 1.3-litres/100km in optimal conditions, with EV Priority on. The best we could manage though was a 5.1-litre/100km in real world conditions.
It has a claimed EV only driving range of 87km, but like the fuel usage, in actual conditions, that’s more like 65-70km – still super impressive to be fair, as is the petrol guzzling. You can only charge on an AC charger, and at a maximum of 7kW.
That translates to longer charging than some of its rivals, and the lack of a DC fast charger capability means no super quick top ups. With a standard 240v (10A) power outlet, you’re looking at around eight hours, or around 2.5 hours at a 32A charging station.
On the road, everything works together nicely, with the all-wheel drive, e-CVT and power delivery coming together for outstanding driving performance, acceleration, and quietness. It’s an altogether comfortable driving experience.
To make sure, we tested all this on the M1 north of Sydney, and along the Lakes Way in the Myall Lakes National Park (more on that later). The long drive gave us the opportunity to mess with things like the colossal 14.0-inch multimedia touchscreen too.
It’s here you’ll find Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and built-in navigation. There’s also an 8.0-inch digital instrument cluster, colour head-up display, 10-speaker premium audio, wireless phone charging, and the now obligatory dual-zone climate control.
On the safety front, you’re supported by radar cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-tracing, rain-sensing wipers, and full adaptive LED headlights, among a long list of such features.
Keyless entry and push-start ignition, and a handsfree power boot with kick sensor are also included, along with a tilt and slide moon roof. Luggage capacity is 520-litres, with that number growing to 1,411-litres with the rear seats down.
Among our favourite features of the NX 450h+ F Sport is the head-up display. It’s easy to use, full colour and when you run your fingers over the touch controls on the steering wheel, what your doing is replicated on the HUD, ensuring you don’t need to look down.
The car’s dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure warning and lane tracing assist functions are also shown here, when activated. Another cool feature is the e-Latch system, which won’t let you open the door if there’s a possibility of a collision.
Working together with the car’s safe exit assist system, and blind spot monitoring, you’ll get a raft of warnings if there’s a vehicle or cyclist approaching from the rear. While it was initially difficult to work with, once you understand it, it adds a whole extra level of safety.
Parking this baby doesn’t get any easier either, with the convenience of Lexus’ teammate advanced park, which combines information from cameras and 12 ultrasonic sensors, automatically controlling steering, accelerating, braking and shift changes.
You can monitor the parking process on the infotainment system too, ensuring you soon become comfortable with the car’s smooth parking function. If there’s a possibility of colliding with an obstacle, it warns the driver and assists by applying the brake.
The panoramic view monitor is also nifty, combining imagery from cameras fixed on the front, sides and rear of the car for a bird’s-eye view, helping you check areas which are difficult to see from the driver’s seat.
The infotainment system gives you three view choices too, inlcuidng see-through (looks through the body and seats, as if transparent), side clearance and cornering (aids in avoiding obstacles on narrow roads).
The Lexus is also equipped with a digital rear-view mirror, which can display real-time images, providing a wider unobstructed rear view. Now the fun part (in the National Park we mentioned earlier), pushing the car through 35km of winding roads at dusk.
With 100km/h speed limits, it’s here you can really appreciated the technology, design and safety features offered on the NX 450h+ SUV. Engaging Sport S (one of five drive modes), and switching to sequential shift mode, we put the foot down.
Quick, more powerful acceleration paired with the now activated adaptive variable suspension (which automatically increases the difference between the inner and outer shock absorber and damping for improved cornering and handling), is grin inducing.
That joyous experience is helped by the change to a metered racing style layout on the digital instrument cluster. When you punch the accelerator like that, the Lexus responds, making it a proper fun car to drive. Handling is beyond expectations too.
There’s bonus points for the fact it’s charging as you go. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the other drive modes include Eco, Normal, Sport S+ and Custom. The low profile tyres are a nice touch too, but they’re run flats, which not everyone loves.
It’s safe to say we really like what the 2022 Lexus NX 450h+ F Sport has to offer, even if it is quite pricey, including being dearer than the equivalent petrol model. That said, there’s no compromise here either, this car has it all.
Our test vehicle was provided by Lexus Australia. To find out more about the 2022 Lexus NX 450h+ F Sport, contact your local Lexus dealer.