From £36,0758

Sharp on the outside, sumptuous on the inside: can the new NX surpass Audi and co?

Cast your mind back to 2014 and the launch of the first-generation Lexus NX. At the time (and mostly in a positive way), we found the car quite shocking to behold.

Even the TV advert, which featured an origami fox along with other creased creations existing in an abstracted urban environment – Facet City – might have induced tension headaches in the viewer. Just how many angles, we wondered, was it possible to design into the body of a car before the result resembled a ball of tinfoil? The NX stopped well short of that point, but still.

Modern Lexus maw is present on the second-gen NX, though it’s more upright than before, and the mesh pattern has been redesigned with U-shaped blocks, for a more three-dimensional effect.

Clearly, given that this new version doubles down on the approach, Lexus feels it was onto something with the razor-sharp looks of the first-generation NX, and not without justification. This mid-sized SUV has become the brand’s best-selling model, propelling Lexus out of relative obscurity in Europe and giving it respectable market share in perhaps the most unforgiving segment of them all.

The second-generation car tested here aims to double that share and take even more conquest sales from the likes of the Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLCBMW X3 and Range Rover Evoque. It features some small but significant changes to help it achieve that goal.

While the aesthetic merely fine-tunes that of the Facet City star, there are broader changes underneath. The entire line-up now consists of petrol hybrids (though non-hybrid models will be offered in eastern Europe), and there is also a plug-in hybrid for the first time in the form of the powerful, range-topping NX 450h+.

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The NX has also gained a new platform and an entirely new infotainment system known as Lexus Interface, and the latter alone should address one of the major failings of the old model.

If these developments result in a better-riding, more efficient yet no less opulent and idiosyncratic car, the new NX could and should continue Lexus’s ascent in this popular segment.

The Lexus NX Line-up at a glance

Certain markets have the option of an NX shorn of its hybrid elements, but in the UK you have the full-hybrid NX 350h in either front- or four-wheel-drive guise, or the NX 450+ plug-in hybrid, with 302bhp and 45 miles of electric range.

Trim levels start at the basic NX 350h and rise through F Sport to lavish Takumi. Confusingly, there are numerous option packs available, too, so it’s possible to have Takumi-level kit on an entry-level NX, though this is an uneconomical approach.

Engines Power Price
2.5 350h FWD 241bhp £39,750
2.5 350h AWD 241bhp £40,750
2.5 450h+ PHEV 302bhp £50,950

Lexus NX First drives