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IMG_2513Many years ago I owned what I felt was the most com­fort­able car in the world. It was a 1974 Volvo 164 with incred­ibly plush (butt-worn) leath­er uphol­stery and a shiny wal­nut dash­board. It sat effort­lessly on the road, wait­ing for the slightly gut­less CNG (com­pressed nat­ur­al gas) power source to fire up, then would cough politely and sail quietly into the part­ing stream of traffic, like a cruise liner leav­ing harbour.

I’ve nev­er driv­en a Rolls-Royce but I can ima­gine that this was what it might have been like in the 1960s. The seats kept you so upright it would have been down­right rude to slouch. It was like driv­ing a Chester­field sofa.

Cars nowadays want to envel­op your hips in buck­et seats, and lean you back so you’re nice and relaxed and your feet are in the per­fect pos­i­tion to plant your foot on the accel­er­at­or ped­al. And they strap you in (I know this is actu­ally the law as well as good sense) so tightly that you genu­inely feel that you might need this safety har­ness or risk being flung into a pad­dock by g‑forces.

The 164 had none of that. It was a Volvo, so seat­belts were an irrel­ev­ance — noth­ing that crashed into you was going to have any effect on the pas­sen­ger com­part­ment — and the angle and sup­port of the seats implied that Volvo cared as much for your pos­ture as it did for your safety.

And I’ve nev­er exper­i­enced any­thing like it since then. Until now.

The new Lex­us NX 300H (‘H’ is for hybrid, which we’ll come to later) made me feel very much at home again. It’s not a mon­strously large SUV — it has quite a low pro­file as far as these things go — but the interi­or is very prop­er. You sit up straight, which means you get the full view­ing bene­fit of what height there is.

The interi­or detail­ing is very taste­ful and extremely well put togeth­er — there are no rattles or mis­aligned joins — and cab­in noise from out­side is quieter than any oth­er car I’ve been in. Not silent, but not bad.

Per­form­ance-wise, this NX isn’t start­ling — but then start­ling doesn’t appear to have been in the brief. It’s pro­pelled by a 2.5‑litre pet­rol hybrid engine that, unless you remem­ber to engage the manu­al over­ride, provides polite accel­er­a­tion rather any­thing for the adren­al­in junkie.

The trans­ition between pet­rol and bat­tery power is so imper­cept­ible that until I re-read the spec sheet I had for­got­ten that we had been run­ning on bat­tery most of the time. The engin­eers at Toyota who weave this magic have really got their act together.

Who is it for? This mod­el doesn’t appear to be for sporty or off-road drivers — the mod­el I tested didn’t even have four-wheel drive. Instead, it is per­fect for those par­ents who still choose to drive their kids to school or to Sat­urday sports. Indeed, it was when we dis­covered that one of the leath­er elbow rests turned out to con­tain a fully detach­able makeup mir­ror that we real­ised which gender of par­ent the NX 300 is aimed at.