TURNING HEADS AND PAGES
TAKE THIS ONE OUT WITH MANUAL
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 – Bi-LED 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, 14-way power seat adjustment, 15-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, 10 airbags, heads-up display, 12.3inch central satnav screen, 20inch 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 on the console.
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.
Naturally 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.