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2022 Lexus NX 450h+ PHEV Review: Two In One

CarBuyer Team
25/02/2022
2022 Lexus NX 450h+ PHEV exterior front Singapore

Lexus’ first PHEV in Singapore proves to be excellent at the ‘EV’ part, but how does the NX 450h+ fare as just a ‘V’?


Text: Leow Ju-Len and Ben Chia
Photos: Leow Ju-Len and Jay Tee

SINGAPORE

Toyota, and by extension Lexus, has been relatively slow in the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) compared to rivals, despite having been the pioneers of hybrid technology. But having now committed to an electric future, you can bet that the Japanese giants will be wasting no time in catching up to the competition.

Lexus introduced its first EV, the UX 300e, last year, and has now followed that up with its first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), in the form of the NX 450h+ you see here. While PHEVs are not exactly new or novel, it could be interesting to see what lessons Lexus has learnt from competitors who have been churning out PHEVs for years.

2022 Lexus NX 450h+ PHEV exterior side Singapore

Like the regular hybrid NX 350h model, the NX 450h+ uses a naturally-aspirated 2.5-litre inline four engine. In this application, it produces 182hp, which doesn’t sound like much. But the PHEV also adds two electric motors, one each at the front and rear axle, and when they combine forces with the engine, the NX 450h+ puts out a total of 304hp and 227Nm of torque.

2022 Lexus NX 450h+ PHEV engine Singapore

It’s all packaged nicely, in that the extra EV hardware doesn’t impose itself on the car. They don’t eat boot space, and if you peek under the Lexus the rear motor is pretty much invisible. The only giveaway is that there’s an extra flap on the right rear flank, which is where the charging port lives.

2022 Lexus NX 450h+ PHEV exterior charging port Singapore

Driving the plug-in NX only reinforces the idea that it’s two cars in one. Like other PHEVs, the NX 450h+ can move along with either petrol or electricity supplying the propulsion, or some combination of the two.

A button on the centre console lets you toggle between leaving the car to decide what to use, or forcing it to lean on the 18.1kWh lithium ion battery pack as much as possible. Doing the latter really seems to bring out the best in the Lexus.

2022 Lexus NX 450h+ PHEV interior details buttons Singapore

When it runs on pure battery power, the NX feels like a proper electric car, with all the expected benefits: silent and seamless acceleration, as well instantaneous response to whatever your right foot does. Driven this way, it’s a soothing, cosseting car to be in, and one that really feels like its Lexus DNA is asserting itself to the max.



Flooring the pedal (say, if you have a bit of fast-moving traffic to merge with) wakes the petrol engine up immediately, and it happens more quickly and smoothly than we’ve felt in other PHEVs. When both the engine and motor systems put their shoulder into it, the NX does pick up speed with a real sense of urgency, but never with a sense of sportiness to it. Its manners go out the window temporarily, too, because when the petrol engine is working hard at its job, it’s pretty vocal about it.

2022 Lexus NX 450h+ PHEV exterior front driving Singapore

What the Lexus makes clear is that the petrol engine is the supporting player, while the motors and battery are the stars of the show. The “EV” part of this PHEV supplies the most appealing qualities of its overall character.

Crucially, the Lexus does have enough range to make its electric hardware meaningful. We’ve driven PHEVs that ran out of electric puff after 35km or so, but in our time with the Lexus it was good for more than 60km easily – more than enough to cover the daily distance that most drivers in Singapore do.

2022 Lexus NX 450h+ PHEV interior details instrument cluster Singapore

It helps that as an electric car, the Lexus is pretty efficient. We recorded 18.7kWh/100km without much care or effort behind the wheel – not too far off the car’s rated consumption of 17.8kWh/100km.

With all those numbers out of the way, here’s a few more on whether the Lexus lives up to its PHEV promise. Over a weekend with the car, we started out with a full battery and charged it twice along the way. After we covered 159km, the trip computer said we sipped from the tank at the rate of 0.2L/100km. Think about the implications – used the way we used it, the Lexus should be able to travel 500km with a single litre of petrol.

2022 Lexus NX 450h+ PHEV exterior front charging Singapore

That said, it also means that the NX 450h+ is most effective if you can charge it regularly, ideally every day. But if you have regular access to a charger, then it might be the case that you may as well go the whole hog and get a pure battery EV for the full petrol-free experience. In that context, PHEVs, even one as well-sorted as the NX, do have a somewhat limited use case in Singapore – perhaps an EV for the daily grind between work and home, and a petrol car for those golf trips to Malacca and back with your pals.

2022 Lexus NX 450h+ PHEV exterior details Singapore

Outside of the EV driving experience, the NX 450h+ tries to sportify proceedings with its F Sport kit, which adds a (very minor) body kit, and 20-inch wheels. The latter does seem to have an effect on ride quality, which feels noticeably harsher than the regular, non-F Sport NX 350h hybrid, which runs on 18-inchers. It does handle pretty neatly and competently though, albeit rather lacking in steering feel.

2022 Lexus NX 450h+ PHEV interior dashboard Singapore

The interior is also pretty much the same as the regular NX too, with only the bolstered front sports seats and the brushed metal pedals marking this out as an F Sport car. The large 14-inch infotainment touchscreen is still here, as are features like the head-up display, wireless smartphone charging and the electronic door latches. The “Hey Lexus” voice activation system is available too, but while it could recognise voice commands pretty well, it often had trouble actually understanding and executing the functions effectively.

2022 Lexus NX 450h+ PHEV interior seats Singapore

Viewed objectively, the NX 450h+’s excellent efficiency and impressive electric driving range does make it a pretty compelling offering, especially when compared to other PHEVs. However, it does come at a price, and a pretty hefty one too, at S$357,800 including COE, despite netting a S$15,000 VES rebate. That sort of money could get you a Tesla Model 3 and a Toyota Corolla Altis, with change to spare. Neither feels as luxurious as a Lexus though, so perhaps it’s really just a matter of how you’d like your two-in-one electrification formula to be brewed.

2022 Lexus NX 450h+ PHEV exterior details badge Singapore

Lexus NX 450h+ F Sport PHEV

Engine2,487cc, inline 4
Power182hp at 6000rpm
Torque227Nm at 3200-3700rpm
Electric Motor180hp (front), 54hp (rear)/270Nm (front), 121Nm (rear)
BatteryLithium ion, 18.1kWh
Charging Time/TypeAround 3 hours (estimated)/6.6kW AC charger
Electric Range69-76km WLTP
System Power/Torque304hp/227Nm
GearboxContinuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
0-100km/h6.3 seconds
Top Speed200km/h
VES BandingA2 / S$15,000 rebate
Fuel Efficiency1.1L/100km
AgentBorneo Motors
PriceS$357,800 with COE
AvailabilityNow
Verdict:Lexus’ first PHEV impresses at the EV part, but prohibitive cost could curb its appeal somewhat

Tags:

Hybrid Lexus NX nx 450h PHEV SUV

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CarBuyer Team

CarBuyer Singapore brings the most relevant, accurate and useful car news to Singaporeans in both print and online formats.

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