I’ve had multiple vehicles in the past including a Volvo V40 Cross Country but this is my first automatic car.
BHPian dileepcm recently shared this with other enthusiasts.
This is a short (functional) initial impressions summary of my new (used) Lexus NX300h [Officially “Lexus NX300h AWD Business Line Pro”].
There are no real technical details/numbers in this summary as I am one of those who worries more about comfortable cruising than Nürburgring lap times. If you are really looking for super details on numbers, a detailed review by T-BHP is here.
I moved to The Netherlands for work back in 2012. My automobile life after moving to NL looks something like the below.
Renault Twingo: 2000 make, bought it in 2012 with ~150k Kms. First car, it was more of an experiment to even check whether I could drive comfortably on EU roads as I was that doubtful. It did not take long to get used to new ways of driving and I was very happy to have a car. I was also presently surprised at how good this small, funky but spacious car is. Almost no troubles except a battery change and a starter motor. Used it for ~3 years and about 25k Kms.
I guess someday, I might buy another one!
After a job change in 2015, I opted for an office lease car as the job involved a fair amount of travel. Lease car days were a bit more interesting.
VW Golf 1.0 hatchback – 2015 to 2016 – It was a short lease, lasted for about a year after that lease company wanted the car back for some reason.
Opel Astra – Late 2016 to Early 2017 – After the lease company wanted to take away the Golf, they replaced it with another short lease which was an Opel Astra that lasted a few months as I was then eligible for my long lease.
Volvo V40 Cross country – Early 2017 to late 2019- Picked this long-lease car after a lot of research and test drives. Drove for 3 years and 100k kms! What a car it was. We toured from Italy to Norway and Paris to Berlin and all in between loved every moment of driving it.
Volvos will remain in my heart. They are amazing cars with one of the best seats in business combined with very high build quality.
Golf Estate 1.6 Bluemotion 2019 to 2023 – After 3 years with Volvo, I moved away from the office lease and bought my second private car – 2015 make, used Golf Estate 1.6 Bluemotion TDI. It was 100k run, but was almost brand-new in and out. Main reason for an estate car was that by this time our family had grown and we needed more room inside the car to be able to carry everything that needed around. Fantastic car, everything felt like home very soon.
However, water pump and timing belt replacements besides regular maintenance meant that it was not particularly cheap to maintain overall. Covid times in-between also meant that the amount of travel drastically reduced. However several Germany/Italy trips and one super long NL-Croatia-NL trip made a lot of great memories.
If I am in search of an estate, Golf would still be on my list. Btw, the eagle-eyed of you know the location!
Golf did around 65k kms by the time we moved on.
Lexus NX300h Feb 2023 – Present
Towards the end of 2022, A few things changed. Kid started with her school – that meant driving within the city limits to her school every day with several traffic lights in between. That also meant that I had more traffic jams to face as I further drive to the office as I could not leave early anymore.
The travel for work never picked up to the pace that existed before Covid. Relatively lower run was not really justifying the higher taxes and insurance to be paid for Diesels. For reference, The road tax amount needed for Golf now more or less pays road tax + full coverage insurance for my Lexus.
Besides, Diesels were getting stricter restrictions all across Europe. Several cities do not allow older diesels anymore in their city centers.
Though I thought I would never be an ‘automatic’ person, having a few days driving with friend’s automatic cars clearly initiated some second thoughts especially given the more frequent city driving. I could have still driven the Golf at least for a few more years, but I also had a growing wish to move towards something like a cross-over or SUV sooner than later. Though not serious, a casual search went on. I was spending a couple of hours every week looking at used cars by the end of the year 2022.
So the search was getting more serious as time passed by. Tried several combinations of criteria and eventually settled on Automatic + Petrol/Hybird + AWD + Post 2017 + 5 seats crossovers or SUVs.
Started looking at VW SUVs/Cross overs given great VW Golf ownership, Followed by Volvos (XC60 in particular) having no major luck in the used car market, then looked at other German/Japanese options like X1/3s, GLAs, RAV4s etc however it was almost impossible to find original NL cars within 150k kms mileage fitting within the budget of what I was looking for.
Then looked at Vitaras and CRVs for a while, but dropped them as best efforts within mine could not convince myself of the lack of interior quality for Vitaras and for the body shape of CRVs. I even look at a few Subaru Foresters but internet wisdom never gave me any confidence in boxer engines.
Tried my best to convince myself on Mitsubishi Outlander but nothing could create any good impressions besides the PHEV factor. Interiors were too basic and plasticky to my liking.
Then eventually landed in Mazda CX5 and that was a milestone.
At some point, I was pretty much convinced that I was going to get a Mazda CX5 AWD Automatic and there were a few available from 2018-19 and even took a few test drives. Mazda Service center was very nearby which was a plus. But then I came to know that a friend of mine had serious troubles with his 2019 (office lease) CX5 with cylinder deactivation tech that had some serious recalls [Just google it!]. Given most of the new Mazdas on the road would be lease cars where no one worries about issues or recalls, privately owning one was of a different league for me given the potential issues related to cylinder deactivation tech. So almost overnight Mazdas went off my list.
Then there was a brief moment where I had no idea of what next but somehow ended up looking at Lexus NX300hs at some point.
I have to admit that Lexus were never in my thoughts until this point – not sure why though. Probably that’s because, unlike several other markets, Lexus is not a strong brand here in NL. I also had some worries about hybrid tech failing over time. I somehow got tagged after spending some time reading through several forums, ownership experiences and watching Youtube videos and could not leave it for some other brand thereafter. There were not a lot of NXs available, to begin with, and the ones available were either too far off from where I lived or were too pricy for my budget.
One fine day, to my utter surprise, the Toyota dealer literally 2 minutes away from my home had an NX300h in their used cars stock. It was a 2016, AWD and original NL car with 176k km. I neither liked the 2016 make factor nor the high mileage situation but since the showroom was just a few minutes away, thought of paying a visit. Rest is history!
It had most of the features I need and a bit more. With the exception of the infotainment system [more on that later], there is a clear pursuit to perfection in every aspect of this car.
Here is what I am referring to.
- A trustable and reassuring brand image
- Service center 2 minutes away from my home
- All typical safety features
- SUV stance
- Very High quality interiors [+ the amazing stitches]
- Proximity sensors for locking/unlocking
- Automatic wipers and headlights
- Cruise control
- Heated seats
- Reclining back seats
- Sofa like armrest
- Hill hold
- Physical sturdy buttons for most regular operations such as volume control or AC temp adjustments
- Dual zone AC and rear AC vents
- Heated mirrors
- Auto dimming mirror which I badly missed in my Golf
- Auto activating parking brakes
- Takes regular fuel,
List goes on. A few were missing though, more on that later.
Though it was 2016 make with 176k kms, car looked almost brand new top to bottom to in and out – no single trace of any serious wear and tear even.
That is a good start. Generally used cars are well maintained here in NL though they could be pricy. I’d pay a premium for a good quality used car than try my luck with cheaper unknowns. Dealership was very friendly and open to talk, they took me to their service area to have the car lifted and allowed me to have a look at the underbody which was very clean with no rust or any serious scratches. Several test drives, grinding through all service records and a few sleepless nights of research gave me enough confidence to proceed. My Golf that I wanted to exchange also received a fair quote from the same dealer that was higher than what I received from several others [Toyota dealer offered a quote that was 73% of original price paid in 2019. 27% lost in 3 years 65k km].
Initial offer price was not within my limits but a few rounds of talks somehow made it possible. Finally, I also negotiated for a year of warranty and that came together with one year of free NL roadside assistance which is not really helpful as I anyway had a third-party EU wide road side assistance subscription.
On 11th Feb 2023, I exchanged my Golf to the same dealer, took delivery of Lexus with a year warranty included in delivery price. Had it not been for the 1 year warranty, I would not have opted for it given 2016 make + high mileage factors.
On the plus side, when the car is serviced at Toyota/Lexus dealerships, the warranty will get renewed for another year until 200k kms / 10 years. There is also a (paid) hybrid system check that can be performed post which the warranty of the hybrid system will get extended every year for another year until car is 15 years old. Above all, I also somehow kept telling myself that Toyotas are supposed to last longer than rest of the ones around – Hope that stays true.
Right after getting out of showroom. The color is some sort of Metallic Brown (still need to figure out the official name). By the way, the color is also something special to me. Usually the cars here are white/black/grey. This metallic brown is something that I had never seen before and I love it!
My kid wanted a glittery golden car though!
Something unbelievable happened the week leading to the Saturday when I got the car. There were several challenges with one of our on-going software implementations [I am a Solution Architect for supply chain software products by the way] and that demanded a quick trip to our India development office. Before I could blink my eye, travel date got finalized and that was 12th – the next day after getting a new car. I had no other choice but to leave the car behind for what was supposed to be a week’s trip. But then the trip, unfortunately, got extended by one more week. While it was great to catch up with the development team and I also had a chance to enjoy some good food, I was equally glad and eager to return at the end of 2 weeks sprint to start exploring my new car.
So, this is my first automatic. It meant some getting used to the new ways of using the machine. It was also my first hybrid – that meant another learning curve.
A few days and few short/long drives, it was all set, things started to feel more natural.
I am in no way an aggressive driver looking for peaks of steering feedback or for cornering stability, so CVT wasn’t particularly of any concern. I had paid enough attention earlier during the test drives itself to ensure that I was going to be ok with it.
Car comes with an EV mode button – pressing the button forces the car to run only on batteries (provided it has juice) while speeds are below 60kmph for a few kms, but do not expect any extended range beyond 3-4 kms at a short. Where it really helps is when there is heavy traffic or when it’s bumper to bumper city traffic.
Likewise, it also comes with Eco/Normal/Sports driving modes.
Sports mode for sure makes the throttle response quicker. After initial playing around, I left the settings in Normal mode for now.
Quick view of interiors
Here is a quick glance at what I was referring to as quality interiors. Not to forget, Previous owner and the dealer have done fantastic jobs in keeping things in shape and getting it professionally cleaned.
Leather steering wheel with Lexus branding. The surface was a bit too smooth to my liking for which I have now added a perforated leather wrap. This is something I had done in my Golf as well. Classic looking dials. The left one can be switched between Hybrid systems view and traditional RPM gauge view. The right one has no customization. Center portion is sort of an information display unit where you could customize what needs to be shown (Songs/Battery level etc)
Center console is dominated by gear knob. It looked a bit complicated at first with all those sideways movements but in a day or two, everything falls right on spot at first shot.
To me, the silver stripe design is one of the eye catchers. It resembles the grill design. Once you see it, you never unsee it. Armrest deserves special mention, so is the analog clock.
Seats are of Volvo rating. When it comes to comfort, these two guys make best in class seats as far as I have experienced.
Back seats are equally good too. Plenty of space, Recline-able, AC vents, Iso fixes, Arm rest – Has everything needed for comfortable long trips.
All key controls are sturdy physical buttons.
I also replaced original mats with rubber ones, added dashcam, added a sturdy mobile phone holder with wireless charging and finally also added a leather steering wheel cover to make it a bit more grippy (The stitching took a couple of hours though) – All these are my standard changes now based on what I did for Golf.
We had a short trip to Paris (Disneyland) a few weeks ago (~1000km round trip) and car performed really well. No issues/rattles etc. noticed. Very stable on high speeds. Very comfortable to drive and very quite inside the cabin.
Another trip to South of Germany coming up in a few weeks where I will really face some uphill roads which I can’t wait to experience! I am also going to give it a push on Autobahns on the way to get a good feel of it.
Compromises made in favor of Lexus NX300h [This particular car]
- I really wanted adaptive cruise control in my next car after the Golf, but that’s something I had to give up in favor of this one.
- Mileage: I was not going to buy anything above 120-150k kms, but ended up with 176k kms in this case. 1 year dealer warranty and the possibility to get it extended is what justified the decision to make a compromise.
- Not a big one, but leather seats. Though it’s a luxury factor, I prefer (semi) fabric seats. But again in the used cars market, I cannot spec everything the way I need.
- Better infotainment system – again not a big one as I prefer using my phone, but it would have been nice to have a better system. To add, 2018 onwards models got a new one but mine is not compatible for an upgrade.
After 5200 Kms, What I Like:
- Extremely comfortable to drive supplemented by butter smooth eCVT. 2.5l Engine makes it easy to cruise, never felt like it was getting anywhere closer to running out of breath.
- Very silent cabin. Seats are at the same league as that of Volvo’s.
- I know, not everyone likes the styling, but I love it! It really stands out.
- More spacious than I thought!
- There is real feel of luxury and build quality in and out. Everything feels strong, reassuring and safe.
- Seats offer higher seating [compared to Golf obviously] and it’s great to enjoy the commanding view.
- So far trouble-free. No signs of any issues/warnings seen.
- Averaging around 14.5 KMPL which is not too bad given the increased city driving on a daily basis.
- Ambient lights / puddle lights upon key proximity.
- Built-in wireless charging!
- It might sound silly, but I love the fact that the seat recliner is a lever operated one instead of those German rotary knobs that take forever!
- The analog clock in center console – adds class and character.
- Comes with a full size spare wheel/tire [18″]. Volvo or Golf did not come with one.
- No idling of engine is needed while parked even with AC on for the most part.
- Heated seats are sort of soft heated with good heat spread which makes it really comfortable. Golf’s heated seats were not bad but at high setting, it wasn’t getting heated evenly across the surface.
- The switch between electric drive and ICE drive is very smooth which is very hard to even notice.
- I am yet to visit a Lexus service center, but their customer care has already given me a great initial impression. I had to be in calls/chats with them several times while I was in the process of investigating the history of the car, looking for information about warranties, parts costs etc. They even serve you on Sundays – now that is not that common here in EU but Lexus does it.
“Quirks and features”
It is a quirky car in many ways. the design of the grill sort of repeats in its interior’s silver line placed above center console. The way window glass slows down just before closing off to allow sort of a soft landing is impressive. So is the vanity mirror in the center console [Buy why one would need that?]. In some ways, even the existence of a CD player impresses me. I am now going to hunt for some good-quality audio to give it a try. Not sure of the location where EU spec cars are getting built/assembled but several parts got Toyota and/or ‘Made in Japan’ stamps on them, list goes on.
Economics of daily driving a Lexus NX300h
My travel these days [until next projects design starts in a couple of months], is very consistent.
Home – School drop – Office – home + weekend errands + a long trip [~1200 kms return sort of] every other month.
I average between 65kms to 70kms per day.
With 5200 kms under the belt, Car averages 14+ Kmpl right now.
Except the rubber mats and phone holder I purchased and few other misc items, Car itself did not need any fixes or expenses until now. Service is due at 190k.
After 5200 Kms, What I dislike:
- Though the sound quality of the speakers is great, operating infotainment system is a nightmare. Neither the UI design nor the rotary knob are intuitive to use. I knew it before buying the car; there is no real alternatives besides some after-market systems in this case. For navigation, I use Waze/Google maps on my phone – so that part is taken care of however my wife gave up on using it for music from pendrive which she has been happily doing in Golf.
- Though Lexus has a reverse camera (none of my previous cars had it) which is great, I still miss the auto dipping reverse mirrors that I had in my golf.
- It would have been better to have steering-mounted buttons to operate cruise control instead of having the stick behind the steering wheel. At least the stick should have been placed to the left hand instead of right. Having to take hands off the center console at times for operating cruise control is tiny bit annoying.
That’s it really! No other complaints or drawbacks noticed so far. I really hope it stays that way.
Looking forward to driving a lot in coming months and years. I will keep this thread updated when something major happens!
Last but not least: I had one spare sticker that I carried from India back in 2017 or 18 I think. That made the entry now very official.
Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.