Check out the refined sensibilities of the hybrid Lexus NX 300h

Lexus NX 300h   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

We have a convert. Last month, petrolheads, that unyielding faction of climate change deniers, finally received conclusive proof that fossil fuels are, in fact, heating up the planet. And it came through the mouth of none other than their self-appointed high priest — Jeremy Clarkson. The erstwhile motoring show host apparently made the astute observation when confronted with severe water shortage while on a boat trip in Vietnam and Cambodia.

Elementary, my dear Clarkson. Spend a week in Delhi right now, and you’ll never drive an oil-burning guzzler again. Which is why, your columnist was presented with a seemingly impossible dilemma when planning his escape out of the city’s smog-choked gas chamber.

Lexus came to the rescue. So it was that a gleaming blue hybrid Lexus NX 300h — a compact SUV — emerged from the sooty black void that is squatting like a toad on a large tract of north India. Leaving the plains behind, this bewilderingly-silent vehicle rapidly ascended up to Pancheshwar in the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand and came to a stop on the banks of the Mahakali River that meanders down from the Himalayas.

It turned plenty of heads too: not because the NX 300h is conventionally pretty, but because it is also a rather dramatic-looking vehicle. Angular lines struggle to confine a design that looks somewhat like a crossover between an SUV and a raised sedan. Its garb is definitively Lexus and rather unique: which is appropriate, because, as the sum total of all its inherent merits, the NX is most certainly one-of-a-kind.

Heart of the matter

The skin-deep style is complemented by thoughtful, meticulous, touches of luxury that only Lexus can be expected to come up with, and padded with utter comfort for the occupants. But the real heart of the matter is the hybrid powertrain: the NX glides soundlessly from standstill on the electric motor, and you watch in quiet satisfaction as the heads-up display shows the batteries charging with every touch of the brake pedal, or when you take your foot off the gas.

Interior of Lexus NX 300h

Interior of Lexus NX 300h   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Drive the NX like a human being, and this car runs on little more than love and fresh air. In Delhi though, given the dearth of the former, and complete absence of the latter, it’s no surprise that you’re not likely to spot this vehicle as often as you’d expect to. For this particular endeavour though, it saved your columnist considerable embarrassment.

Masks relegated to the boot, and no longer looking like characters in some post-apocalyptic flick, we find ourselves camping next to a river that doesn’t froth, and staring up, gobsmacked, at a sky that’s slid back the sunroof to reveal millions of stars.

This little nook on the Kali River is where Jim Corbett is believed to have been pulled headlong into the water by a mahseer fish which, in his own words, “suddenly galvanised into life, and with a mighty splash dashed upstream” (Man-Eaters of Kumaon, 1944). This camp we’ve found ourselves in, appears to cater not so much to urban escapees, but sporting folk who try to bait (and release) the famous game fish that this river, teems with.

Corbett himself considered “fishing for mahseer in a submontane river the most fascinating of all field sports… a sport fit for kings.” Perhaps, not so much any more, you’re informed: climate change has depleted oxygen levels in the river even here, leaving the mahseer a bit woozy in the head. For once, you know exactly how that feels.

Meraj Shah makes a living chronicling his experiences on the road, shooting video and writing on auto, travel and golf. When not roving the globe, he lives in Delhi with a motorcycle named Blue

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Printable version | Apr 13, 2021 11:27:51 PM |

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