Nowadays, a luxury car maker without a small-sized SUV in its range isn’t really in the hunt.

With the success of the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and more recently the Mercedes GLA, Lexus has had plenty of reason to expand its SUV offerings.

By Alex Forrest

The Lexus NX range is actually based on the previous generation Toyota RAV4 platform, but there are some big differences in the way the NX 300h makes its wheels turn.

Most significantly, the NX 300h has a hybrid power train, with the front wheels driven by a 2.5-litre petrol engine and electric motor combination. This is similar to the system in the Toyota Camry Hybrid.

However, if you opt for the all-wheel drive version, the rear wheels will be driven by a separate, dedicated electric motor on the rear axle. The battery is just ahead of the rear wheels.

Lexus calls the system E-Four, which varies torque distribution to the rear wheels, depending on driving dynamics and road conditions.

A similar system has been used in Lexus’s larger SUV, the RX range, but this is the first time we’ve seen such a system in a Lexus this size.

As a whole, it works well and power delivery is smooth and amazingly quiet. This also points to the core character of the NX 300h.

The interior of the NX 300h is so beautifully put together, it looks and feels like it’s been grown rather than built.

It looks sharp and sporty on the outside, but it’s not really. The NX prioritises cosseting luxury over pointy handling but that will make sense to many buyers in this price segment.

The mouse pad which controls the audio, sat nav and other functions was fiddly and irritating to use initially, but we got used to it.

Safety equipment in the NX is extensive, and includes a reversing camera as standard across the range, and eight airbags including knee airbags for the driver and passenger.

The NX 300h is available in four different model grades, ranging from the 2WD Luxury at $61,767 drive away, through to the top-spec AWD Sports Luxury at $83,758.

2015 Lexus NX 300h specifications

Price: From $61,767 driveaway
Engine: 2.5-litre petrol/electric hybrid
Power: 147kW total combined output
Torque: Not disclsosed
Claimed fuel economy: 5.6 litres/100km (2WD); 5.7 litres/100km (AWD)
ANCAP Rating: 5 stars
CO2 Emissions: 131g/km (2WD); 133g/km (AWD)
This vehicle qualify for RAC Less Emissions Mission rewards.