Road Test: Lexus RX 450h F-Sport
I have to be honest and say that the prospect of an RX450h on my drive for a week did not fill me with excitement. Looks that could frighten children and an SUV – could it be worse? But I soon learned that not everyone agrees. Some people just couldn’t get enough of it.
Back to the beginning and this is the fourth generation of Lexus’ large luxury SUV. It comes in two forms, the RX200t, powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder 235bhp petrol engine and the subject of our test, the RX450h. This model is powered by a combination of a 3.5-litre V6 259bhp petrol engine and a 165hp electric motor, for which Lexus claims a combined 308hp. This features all Toyota and Lexus hybrid knowhow, which means that the electric motor is always at work, helping to propel the car. An additional electric motor in the rear transaxle provides a more responsive E-Four all-wheel-drive system and re-charges the hybrid battery pack in recuperation mode. There’s also a sound generator to make the car sound more sporty.
Like all Toyota/Lexus hybrid drives, it features a continuously variable transmission (CVT) transmitting power from the hybrid system to all four wheels. That hybrid system ensures that emissions from such a powerful petrol engine are very well contained and as low as 120g/km giving it a 20% BIK tax rating. That must be an attraction even for a car costing the £52,995 of our F-Sport test car – make that £54,935 with the panoramic roof and paint. The range starts from £38,511 for the SE.
The car has a longer wheelbase than its predecessor, providing more cabin space and Lexus has introduced its Safety System+. The heart of this is a pre-crash safety system with brake assist that will apply the brakes if it thinks a collision in inevitable and the driver has not responded. The same radar and camera sensors for this are also used for the adaptive cruise control. The system also features lane departure alert and lane-keeping assist, as well as automatic high beam and an adaptive high-beam for the standard LED headlamps.
The F-Sport includes adaptive, self-levelling air suspension giving an excellent mix of comfort and taut handling. I could go on about the long list of equipment, the dashboard displays and much more, but I would fill the whole page.
On the road, the RX 450h is what you might hope for, a blend of fine refinement and leather-upholstered comfort. Us Brits generally don’t like CVT transmissions because of the continuous engine note that results, but when it’s the Lexus V6, the sound is worth listening to. It’s deceptively quick too. It will always start off under electric power unless the battery is low, so a quiet getaway is guaranteed and it has surprising reserves of power. When you want to make swift progress you’ll be doing it before you realise. All this and 36mpg.
I was bowled over. The Lexus is effortless, comfortable, spacious, handles very well and can be extremely quick, or impressively economical for such a large, powerful car. A competitively priced winner.
Type: Petrol-electric hybrid
Electric range: 1.3 miles
CO2 emissions (tailpipe): 127g/km
Charging port: N/A