Car sales for the last year show we are starting to warm to hybrid and all electric power.
There is more choice and there are a few electric cars for under £30,000, still a lot of money, but it is progress. People tell me owning an electric car is appealing but are still anxious about charging away from home and that is a genuine concern
Who knows whether we will be ready for the switch over in 2030 but if I was changing cars now I would be looking at hybrid or, better still, plug-in hybrid and the car attracting the attention of those with enough money in the bank is the new Lexus NX 450+.
This is the first plug-in hybrid from Lexus and has left the motoring world asking why it has taken so long when parent company Toyota has more experience of alternative power than any other car company. Mitsubishi came up with a plug-in hybrid SUV eight years ago.
It’s here now and as far as electric range goes it is a world beater. With a light foot on the accelerator the NX has a range of up to 43 miles on the open road and could rise to more than 50 trundling around town. That is better than anyone, and the car self charges when the electric juice has run out. Another first.
NX quickly became the company’s best seller after its launch in 2014 but was always behind rivals like Audi Q5 and BMW X3 when it came to driving dynamics and technology. Well watch out boys because the new model is a belter and a half. The hybrid side is one thing but Lexus has gone to town on everything, vastly improving driving pleasure while the tech upgrade outguns its rivals.
The centre piece is a 14 inch touchscreen with clear graphics and razor sharp response. Cloud navigation gives live traffic updates and is the way to go given the challenge of navigation apps on smart phones.
The number of buttons has been reduced from 78 to 45 but there are still nice tactile switches for controlling the heating or changing the radio volume. The bit I needed more time to master are the touch sensitive buttons on the steering wheel. Hover over the switch and a graphic for a particular function appears in the head up display but is so fiddly to operate I gave up.
For pure ease try the voice control which is excellent for choosing a radio station, changing the heating, selecting a navigation destination or asking for a window to be opened.
One word describes the cabin – fabulous. You are spoilt rotten in every way, even the doors release electronically but pushing a button instead of pulling a lever actually takes a little time to master.
Volvo has been my benchmark for the most comfortable seats but the NX matches the Swede here and on the safety front. The Lexus cabin feels like a fortress with so many safety features detecting potential accidents, and with sensors and cameras surrounding the car you should never be at risk of scraping any part of the body.
They have even managed to sort out lane assist which I always turn off. It is now less sensitive and will not tug the car back when moving to overtake or driving close to a verge.
NX 450 is a powerful all wheel drive five door SUV with ridiculously high economy because of its electric range but when depleted do not expect to achieve more than high thirties on petrol power.
Ok the NX 450+ is out of reach of the majority but for those who can pay this sort of money it is good value against its premium rivals and with its low emissions an absolute tax steal for the company driver.
NX 450+ Takumi
2.5 litre petrol; 305bhp
0-62mph 6.3secs; 124mph
26g/km. 1st tax £155
Insurance group 41
Boot 545-1436 litres