A lot has happened for the Lexus brand in the years that the AZ10 series NX was in production. Not only did it become the dominant premium brand in Japan, but the model range in North America changed significantly as several cars disappeared and more and more SUVs were added.
In China, the brand remains for import only, but it is wildly successful, even with the premium prices that Toyota gives the models sold there. None is more in demand than the ES with the RX another strong performer and so is the NX.
Europe was never a very strong region, but little by little Lexus started climbing the sales charts, helped greatly by the brand’s strong image in Russia.
The UK has been the other long-standing success story for how Toyota is defining its greater European region.
For obvious reasons, what was a big market in eastern Ukraine has suddenly become very small for Lexus (and its competitors). Ergo Britain is now even more important to Lexus Europe.
The NX used to be the smallest SUV, but then came the UX, although it is not so compact at 4.5 m in length. Launched in the UK in 2019, the smallest Lexus not only brought in new customers, but also pioneered electric power with the NX 300 e.
Oddly enough, there is no EV in the new NX range. There’s a method to this seeming madness, though, as Toyota has quite a few electric-only Lexus SUVs on the way. The first of these, the 4.8m long RX 450e, will be joined by smaller alternatives around the middle of the decade.
But let’s go back to the new NX. In addition to the so-called self-charging hybrid – a clever term coined by Lexus Europe that has become mainstream – there is a plug-in hybrid alternative. So which is best, the NX 350h or the NX 450h+?
The plus symbol is Lexus’ way of designating a PHEV, and the NX is also the first such model.
Until the debut of the Corolla and Levin PHEVs in 2019, Toyota had eschewed plug-in hybrids. The locally built twin for the Chinese market complements HEV versions of the same cars and paved the way for the company’s now flagship PHEV model, the RAV4.
Of course, Lexus doesn’t want to abandon its USP as a brand specializing in self-charging hybrids, but it’s wise to see which direction the wind is blowing. Which electrification option will be the most popular, hybrid or plug-in hybrid?