Lexus NX 450h+ PHEV 2022 Review : A Little Goes A Long Way
Lexus NX 450h+ PHEV 2022 Review : A Little Goes A Long Way
Singapore - Lexus, and by extension Toyota, have had a great degree of success with their range of hybrid vehicles. As it stands, half of the Lexus’ model range in Singapore are hybrid vehicles. However, on the fully electric vehicle front, things are a little different.
It’s no secret that Japanese carmakers have been a little slow where fully electric vehicles are concerned. Lexus currently has one BEV in its lineup, coming in the form of the UX 300e. Though in time to come, the Toyota Motor Corporation has announced its intention to produce 30 fully electric models between Toyota and Lexus, as well as turn the latter into a fully-electric vehicle manufacturer.
In a manner of speaking, this new Lexus NX 450h+ PHEV exists in the transitional phase between EV and ICE. It’s clear that the brand is actively making inroads into the EV scene. So naturally, we’d expect big things from Lexus’ first Plug-In Hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV).
Lexus NX 450h+ PHEV 2022 - How frugal is it?
By now, we’d all be familiar with several forms of hybridisation tech: mild hybrids, full hybrids and series hybrids. But this is a plug-in hybrid, which sees the traits of the other hybrid systems segue into a single powertrain package. In theory, a PHEV should counteract the shortfalls of conventional hybrids or a fully electric drivetrain, while combining the best attributes of both. Better fuel economy, no range anxiety, and the flexibility of using either.
According to the press kit and specifications sheet of the 2022 Lexus NX 450h+ PHEV, it has an average combined fuel economy of just 1.1L/100km. So on paper at least, the NX 450h+ is the most fuel-efficient production vehicle in Lexus’ lineup.
Lexus NX 450h+ PHEV 2022 - The PHEV Powertrain
The NX 450h+ is powered by a 2.5-litre Atkinson cycle inline-four cylinder engine (like the one we’d find under the hood of the Camry Hybrid, RAV4 Hybrid and Harrier Hybrid) mated to an eCVT transmission. The car is also powered by two electric motors, one on each axle, so this particular NX is an all-wheel drive vehicle.
This is where it gets a little confusing. The ICE engine’s power figures are rated at 182hp/227Nm, while the front and rear electric motors produce 180hp/270Nm and 54hp/121Nm respectively. So in theory, the EV gubbins lurking under the bodywork should supply a total of 234 horsepower and 391Nm of torque.
However, the NX 450h+ has a combined system output of 304 horsepower and 227Nm of torque. We know, the math doesn’t add up. There are other factors at play when an ICE and EV drivetrain have to work in sync. But truthfully, 304 horsepower is plenty for this mid-size SUV. Any more than that and it’d be encroaching into full-on Lexus F territory.
Lexus NX 450h+ PHEV 2022 - The Looks
Although, the car certainly does look the part of a sporty, aggressive crossover, especially in this F Sport guise our test car came in. In fact, save for the model designation on the tailgate, it’s a dead ringer for the NX 350 F Sport, save for the AC charging flap on the right flank.
As per Lexus’ current design language, the imposing front end sees a number of angular creases and sharp lines emanating from the brand’s signature spindle grille. The side profile continues the sporty theme, with creases flowing down the bodywork to the wide rear haunches before culminating in the tail end. The rear also sees the addition of a continuous light bar, along with a new Lexus name logo.
Lexus NX 450h+ PHEV 2022 - The Cabin
Like the angular exterior, the interior also sees several F badged embellishments. F Sport sill plates, F Sport badge on the steering wheel and sportier (looking) F Sport seats. But you’d more likely be drawn by the curved panel over the digital instrument cluster and the absolutely huuuuuge 14-inch centre screen.
Massive screen aside, there are plenty of niceties in the cabin. Wireless smartphone connectivity for iPhone users (sorry Android users), a sliding wireless charging pad beneath the infotainment screen that retracts into the dash, a colour HUD, ventilated seats and a full suite of safety systems. Get behind the wheel and you’d find most of the driver-centric controls within an arm’s reach from the driver's seat. That’s done by design, in accordance with Lexus' Tazuna Concept which literally translates to “reins of a horse”, so all the key driver systems are easily accessible while on the go.
Lexus NX 450h+ PHEV 2022 - The Drive
But the beauty of a PHEV like the NX 450h+ is the option of cycling between a petrol and an electric drivetrain. Housed within the TNGA-K chassis is an 18.1kWh battery pack that works in tandem with the engine, or on its own in full EV mode. Running solely on electricity, the NX 450h+ has a WLTP range of 69 to 76 kilometres. Plenty for an average day’s commute here in Singapore.
And it would be a very fun commute indeed. Pin your foot to the floor and the NX 450h+ will do 0-100km/h in brisk 6.3 seconds. The car’s chassis feels rigid and planted on the road, though it does have a slight hint of torque steer when you jab your foot down. The steering is sharp and precise, allowing you to place the car on the road accurately. But it feels numb and it isn't as communicative as its F Sport credentials would suggest. However, it’s only in extreme situations that the lack of feedback becomes more apparent. Driven in a civil manner, it’s a flaw that rarely ever reveals itself.
Lexus NX 450h+ PHEV 2022 - Petrol or Electric?
When left to its own devices, the car juggles between internal combustion and flowing electrons to net you the best fuel consumption figure possible. Driven in hybrid mode alone, my average consumption hovered between 2.4L to 5.1L per 100km. Bear in mind that my drive included a considerable amount of idle time doing a photoshoot and loitering with the drive systems switched on. And putting my foot down in the name of science. And fun. So results may vary depending on your driving habits and style.
In the real world, it would take some serious talent and effort for your fuel economy figure to surpass 4L/100km. Even after clocking a total of 150km on the car, my fuel gauge only dipped by an eighth. The battery pack on the other hand? Let’s just say I was in need of a top-up. The car supports AC charging rates of up to 6.6kW, so it'd be a 3-hour wait for you to fully juice up the 18.1kWh battery pack. But if you have easy access to a charging point, you could rack up some serious mileage between visits to the petrol station.
As is, the Lexus NX 450h+ is a car that effectively and efficiently bridges the proverbial gap between a gasoline-powered car and a battery electric vehicle (BEV). That 1.1L/100km fuel consumption figure I mentioned earlier? It’s entirely possible when supplanted by electricity, so you could really make a little bit of petrol go a long way.
We’re certain that the Toyota Motor Corporation has plenty more innovative drivetrains in the works. They’ve already got the recipe for a conventional hybrid locked down, so it’s only a matter of time before the engineers in Toyota/Lexus figure out how to produce mass-market electric vehicles on a larger scale.
Perhaps when the Lexus RZ EV comes out, we’d see the fruits of Lexus’ labour.
PHOTOS Jay Tee
Lexus NX 450h+ PHEV
Engine 2487cc, inline4
Battery 18.1kWh, Li-Ion, 355V
Electric Motor 180hp/270Nm (Front)
Electric Motor 54hp/121Nm (Rear)
System Power/Torque 304hp/227Nm
Top Speed 200km/h (electronically limited)
Fuel Consumption 1.1L/100km (Combined, WLTP)
Efficiency 17.8kWh/100km (Combined)