New Lexus NX vs Audi Q5: interiors

We know Lexus’s new NX is a big improvement on its predecessor, but can it beat one of the best plug-in hybrid SUVs around: the Audi Q5 50 TFSIe?...

New Lexus NX dashboard

Behind the wheel

Driving position, visibility, build quality

The driving position in the Lexus NX is generally excellent, with comfortable, eight-way electrically adjustable front seats fitted as standard. You don’t even have to worry about expending any energy moving the steering wheel where you want it, because that job is taken care of by a motor, too. And because the driver’s seat has a memory function, you can recall your preferred settings after someone else has been driving by simply pressing a button.

Moving the steering wheel and driver’s seat in the Audi Q5 are jobs that need to be done manually, although adjusting the level of lumbar support is taken care of by pushing buttons. But once you’ve gone to the bother of fine-tuning everything, does it have the better driving position? Sadly not. True, there’s a bit more side support from the seat than there is in the NX, but otherwise you sit closer to the road and the steering wheel sprouts from the dashboard in a slightly unnatural position.

Audi Q5 dashboard

More positively, the Q5 is the easier car to see out of; the NX’s windscreen pillars tend to get in the way more at junctions and roundabouts. You shouldn’t have any trouble parking either car, though, because both have sensors at the front and rear plus a 360-degree camera. You also get LED headlights with self-dipping technology in both, helping to improve visibility at night.

But back to the interior, and which of our SUVs feels more upmarket inside? Well, the Q5 is old-school Audi in the best possible way. Some of the German brand’s latest models are slightly underwhelming inside, whereas the Q5 is built like a cathedral from expensive-feeling materials. You might think the design is ‘last gen’ and you’d be right, but that has nothing to do with quality, which is superb. Then again, the NX has some suitably upmarket fixtures and fittings inside, and arguably looks a little more special, with the choice of a white, black or red leather interior.

Infotainment systems

Lexus NX

New Lexus NX infotainment

We’ve given Lexus plenty of flak in the past for its overly complicated infotainment systems. Thankfully, this one has much more intuitive interface. It’s a touchscreen – measuring 14.0in on F Sport trim and above – so it’s more distracting than the rotary controller in a BMW X3. However, the icons are well spaced out and the screen responds quickly to prods. And you don’t need to use the touchscreen to adjust the temperature; there are good old-fashioned dials for that.

Audi Q5

Audi Q5 infotainment

The 10.1in touchscreen looks small in this company, but it’s positioned high up on the dashboard, so it’s easy to see and reach. The operating system is mostly user-friendly and, as with the NX, you get phone mirroring for both Android and Apple devices, plus a 36-month subscription to Audi Connect, which provides online services and is integrated with Amazon Alexa. The B&O sound system that’s part of the Comfort and Sound Pack delivers great sound quality.

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