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By Tim Barnes-Clay, Motoring Journalist

Lexus is part of the luxury automobile division of Toyota Motor Corporation. But, unlike a Toyota, if you drive a Lexus then you will get noticed.

Typically, people will assume you’ve done well in life and that you appreciate the finer things. That’s the image the brand has and that’s why it’s desirable. It’s also a product motorists tend to stick with. Indeed, brand loyalty is on the rise among car shoppers, leading to big gains for car makers.

That’s probably why the Japanese manufacturer has now started selling what it thinks a sport utility vehicle (SUV) should look like in 2015. You see, the styling for its fresh model, the NX, perhaps owes more to sports cars than slab-sided 4x4s – the type of vehicle SUVs are often based on.

Indeed, the NX300h – a full hybrid – truly marks the company’s entry into the mid-size luxury SUV market. Its arrival is bound to attract a whole new bunch of motorists – and current Lexus lovers are guaranteed to become even more devoted to the marque.

The car’s high-impact exterior presents a low, sloping roofline, a cab-forward silhouette, powerfully flared wheel arches and defining bodywork lines that flow directly from the signature Lexus spindle grille.

Step inside and, true to its status as a practical SUV, the NX comes with a wide variety of storage points around the cabin. These include glove boxes, a console tray, utility box, sunglasses holder, cup holders and door pocket holders for half-litre bottles. Throughout there’s fantastic attention to detail, as in the high-friction material used to line the inside of the cup holder that lets you open a twist-cap bottle one-handed.

The Lexus is stacked out with tech too, especially in the flagship (and most expensive), NX300h Premier supplied for this review. From phone charging to capturing an all-round view of your surroundings, the NX has features to make life on board easier, better informed and more enjoyable. These include a handy wireless charging tray for mobile phones and other portable devices; and a Lexus Remote Touch Interface with a touch pad control.

Behind the wheel, the NX300h delivers an engaging and agile drive as well as a superior level of ride comfort. The highly rigid chassis under the skin of the 300h benefits from the pioneering developments Lexus has made with other recent models, notably the new IS saloon.

Drive Mode Select allows you to choose between different modes to suit various driving conditions or driving styles, for example prioritising efficiency around town, or sharpening performance when negotiating the open road. Normal Eco and Sport modes can be selected simply by turning a dial on the centre console. Additionally, throttle response, suspension damping force and the level of steering power assistance can each be adjusted, according to the setting chosen.

Furthermore, as a full hybrid, you can propel the NX300h for short distances in full electric vehicle mode with zero tailpipe emissions and fuel consumption, activated by pressing a button located next to the Drive Mode Select dial.

Given all this, the new Lexus NX300h makes a compelling case for itself, especially when you consider it’s one of the safest cars in its class, scoring the top five-star rating in Euro NCAP crash tests.

Fast facts

Max speed: 112mph
0-62 mph: 9.2 secs
Combined mpg: 54.3
Engine: 2494cc 4 cylinders 16 valve
Max. power (bhp): 153 (engine) 141 (electric motor)
Max. torque (lb.ft): 151
CO2: 121g/km
Price: £43,640

Pros and cons

Safe

Agile

Tech

Efficient

Pricey

Follow Tim on twitter @carwriteups www.carwriteups.co.uk

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