A lot happened for the Lexus brand during the years when the AZ10 series NX was in production. Not only did it become the dominant premium marque in Japan but the model range in North America changed significantly as several cars vanished and ever more SUVs were added.
In China, the brand remains import-only yet it’s wildly successful even with the premium pricing which Toyota gives the models retailed there. None is more in-demand than the ES with the RX another strong performer and the NX too.
Europe never used to be a terribly strong region but little by little, Lexus started to climb the sales charts, helped immensely by the brand’s strong image in Russia.
The UK has been the other long-time success story for how Toyota defines its greater European region.
For obvious reasons, what had been a big market to the east of Ukraine has suddenly become very small for Lexus (and its competitors). Ergo Britain is now even more important for Lexus Europe.
The NX used to be the smallest SUV but then came the UX, although at 4.5 m long it isn’t that compact. Introduced the UK in 2019, the littlest Lexus not only brought in new customers but also pioneered electric power with the NX 300 e.
Curiously, there’s no EV in the new NX range. However, there’s method in this apparent madness as Toyota has quite a few electric-only Lexus SUVs on the way. The first of these, the 4.8 m long RX 450e, will be joined by smaller alternatives around mid-decade.
Let’s get back to the new NX though. As well as the so-called self-charging hybrid – a clever term created by Lexus Europe which has gone 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 denoting a PHEV, the NX also being its first such model.
Until the debut of the Corolla and Levin PHEVs in 2019, Toyota had eschewed plug-in hybrids. The locally-built twins for the Chinese market supplement HEV versions of the same cars, blazing the trail for the company’s now main PHEV model, the RAV4.
Naturally keen not to abandon its USP as the brand specialising in self-charging hybrids, Lexus sensibly wants to see which way the wind is blowing. Which electrification option will be the one which proves to be more popular, hybrid or plug-in hybrid?