TURNING HEADS AND PAGES
ONE thing’s for sure: there’s a heck of a lot of data in the new Lexus RX450h.
The owner’s manual, which every owner should read before driving any new car, stretches to a War and Peace-like 568 pages, and the somewhat complex navigation system would be a lot clearer if owners took the trouble to read its 480-page instruction book.
Yes, Lexus’s premium SUV is indeed a comprehensive package.
It's a bigger car than earlier models and its sharp styling sets it well apart from its conservative Teutonic rivals.
The aggressive barracuda-like grille is flanked by a set of superb – in looks and performance – BiLED headlights and the radical raked body lines not only make heads turn but also make for a lower drag co-efficient, not to mention a quicker turnaround in a carwash.
It's 120mm longer and a bit wider than its predecessor, giving backseat passengers extra room, and the cargo area is also larger.
While most vehicles in this class favour diesel power, the Lexus uses a sophisticated petrolelectric system. There’s a 3.5litre petrol V6 under its bonnet, while a 650 volt electric motor drives the rear wheels. Working in tandem, they produce 230kW.
Like most Lexi, there's quite a family of RXs to choose from: 200t, 350 and 450h, most with optional enhancement packs. Prices start from $73,000 for the 200t and top out at $106,000 for the RX 450h Sport Luxury we were blessed with.
It comes with all the options, including bamboo trim on the door panels, dash and steering wheel, a full-length sunroof, 14way power seat adjustment, 15speaker Mark Levinson audio system, 10 airbags, heads-up display, 12.3-inch central satnav screen, 20-inch alloys, lots of leather and many more features.
Out of sight but highly valued is adaptive suspension that automatically adjusts to various road surfaces and sharpens handling, and a super-smooth eight-speed constantly variable transmission.
The heated and ventilated leather-accented seats are simply superb. We went down south to Yallingup and True Love reckoned it was the most comfortable drive she'd ever had.
The variable dash has a graph that shows how much or little fuel is being used and we ran at a steady 7.8litres/100km for most of the route. We selected ‘eco’ drive mode and got there and back on a single tank. There’s also normal, sport and sport-plus available at the twirl of a rotary knob.
Start the car and there's not a sound. A ‘ready’ light glows on the dash, then select D or R and glide away. The engine fires up only when the accelerator is used.
If you’re in a hurry, it will run to 100km/h in 7.0seconds, but it's the kind of car one tends to cruise along in, rather than pretend to be Dan Ricciardo MkII.
It has loads of safety gear, including an eight-head reversing and proximity camera, auto-on lights and wipers, pre-collision braking, and probably every other bit of bling imaginable.
Verdict: Best thing on wheels, according to True Love. I’m still wading through the manual.
With petro-electric power and polarising design, the Lexus 450h is a refreshing model in the luxury SUV market.