Even though Hybrids do not get any special subsidies in India Lexus has decided to stick with the technology to be more efficient and to stand out from the competition. Powering the NX is a 2.5 litre petrol engine which is assisted by two electric motors at the back. On its own, the petrol engine makes about 152bhp, but along with the electric motors, the combined output rises to an impressive 195bhp. Push start the engine to life and you will be greeted with an eerie silence and one might just try pushing the start button again. If fully charged, the NX starts off in pure electric mode and takes off without any mechanical whirr whatsoever. It’s only once you hit higher speeds that the petrol engine takes over.
Gearbox duties are handled by an E-CVT gearbox with 6-speeds and this we think is the only fly in the ointment. Thanks to the rubber band effect, the engine gets pretty noisy as the revs get higher. And every time one tries to accelerate it’s the same story and that can get a little annoying. However, once the intelligent gearbox adapts to your driving style things get quiet as a library. Performance though is nothing to shout about and the NX does not like to be hurried. Twisting the dial to sport or sport plus does add a little urgency but then again the NX makes it clear it does not prefer getting the beans. But driving it in a relaxed manner does have its benefits. Lexus claims the NX will return 18 plus kmpl (Arai claimed) which is a darn good number for a big SUV like this.
Now the NX is front wheel driven for the better part of its driving, but should your right foot get in hyper mode, E-AWD system is engaged through an electric motor. Also with 185mm of ground clearance, the NX isn’t meant for any kind of off-road antics at all. You also get to choose between four modes, Eco, Normal, Sport and Sport Plus. Eco dulls down the engine response quite a bit and it’s in this mode that you can pull out the most efficiency. Normal balances out things, while sport ups the ante for the engine response and steering. If that’s not enough, you hit Sport Plus which besides the previous two additions also stiffens up the suspension for a more enthusiastic drive.
But does it work? Indeed. In Sport Plus, the NX was a joy to hustle around the tight bends of Goa. No it’s not sportscar fun, but it offers enough to put a smile on your face and make the co-passengers go pale. Howeve, past the good roads and the tight bends, it’s not entirely smooth sailing.
Even in normal mode, where the suspension has the most give, the NX feels stiffly sprung. The suspension feels quite clunky too especially over broken patches and sharp edges. We did not really get to drive it for too long so we shall reserve our comments till we put it through our exhaustive road test regime.