Here's our 2018 car of the year.
The luxury brand known for its beautifully crafted, high-tech vehicles has recently released a mid-sized SUV called NX300h. It is about the same size as a Toyota RAV4 or Mitsubishi Outlander but the comparisons pretty much stop there.
The exterior styling hides its size with dramatic flares and sculpture lines and only when you walk up to it does it give itself away. Our test vehicle, supplied in burgundy, looked elegant and the colour changed in the evening light as the black fleck took the edge off the bright daylight sparkle. Big 18-inch alloys and dramatic lighting clusters add to the masculine roadside stance.
Inside, the immediate impression is an edgy, but luxurious cabin, wonderfully comfortable seats that wrap a little more around the shoulders than most and a dashboard in several layers and sections that make sense as heating and music controls are kept well apart.
The clock is analogue and almost watch-like in design. I loved it, but my wife thought it didn’t belong. The gauges are bold with the speedometer and economy dials the two prominent gauges – unless the sport dial is pushed in which case the economy gauge is magically transformed into a tachometer and the dashboard lighting changes to red. Very sexy!
If you are performance-minded you will want to keep the vehicle in sport mode as the throttle response is increased and the gears are held longer. In normal or eco mode the car feels smooth and quiet but progress is adequate rather than swift.
Handling is very good for this type of vehicle and your inputs are overseen by a host of electronics helping with braking, traction control and stability control. On the 4WD models lane departure warnings, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert are also included.
The cruise control is also radar-assisted to help prevent you rear ending someone. The system will keep you at a pre-selected distance and will bring you to a complete stop if needed.
The official consumption figures for the 2.5L hybrid engine are just 5.6L/100km (2WD) or 5.7L/100km (4WD). However, Rural News managed only about 7.9L/100km on a fairly new engine. There is also a 2.0L turbo unit with much more power – 175kW and 350Nm – for which the fuel figures are not listed.
Pricing starts at about $81,900 for the 2WD model and the AWD limited model is listed at $95,900.