Seven-seater delivers poke with poise
CHILDREN. Rugrats. Kids. Bairns.
Whatever you call them, travelling with them is never a stress-free situation.
Going to and from kids’ parties is probably top of the worst car driving experiences of all. High on E numbers and sugar, hyperactivity and excitement levels are on max.
And when one of your partied-out rear seat guests is either in possession of a full bladder or stomach, a driver’s stress levels are wound up to 10 on the dial.
Once your seeds are sown and grown, you need to start thinking of practicality, safety and the ability of a car to cart that mountain of family detritus.
For the particularly fertile, seven seats are the only option and here your possibilities become more limited.
You’ll be looking at something that looks and feels like a van to drive, or a big SUV.
And if it’s luxury and hybrid technology you’re after then Lexus might just have the thing for you with their new RX450h-L.
The L bit stands for “long” and the availability of seven seats. And five Euro NCAP safety stars.
It’s not much different from the existing RX450h but a bit of jiggery-pokery out back creates the extra space needed for two more seats which fold up and down electronically. Rear seat passengers also get their own thirdzone climate control buttons, cup holders and USB charging points.
In the ultimate gesture of professional endeavour at the Swiss press launch last week, Lexus officials arranged for me to travel with a man who’d eaten something “a bit funny” the night before and despite necking a full bottle of Immodium hours before, his offwhite slacks were still afraid of what might happen.
Instantly, I was right back in kids’ party driving mode. Terrified of the consequences of un-smooth driving techniques, I drove as if I had a box of eggs under the pedals.
This, I guess, is the correct method for piloting a premium lifestyle,
2.8-tonne SUV that’s full to the gunnels with offspring and the contents of their unsafe digestive systems.
So, with the stunning 15-speaker Mark Levinson premium hi-fi hooked up to my iPhone, we plotted a gentle and sweeping path through the Swiss mountains.
The RX does this wafting, smooth driving exceedingly well. The hybrid
V6/battery electric all-wheel drive powertrain goes about its business seamlessly, meaning you just have to point and squirt. No faffing about with clutches and gear changes, just sit back in the chilled (or heated) leather seats and chillax. It’s super quiet in the cabin, so even if you’re in the back you can hear what the front seat occupants are saying about you.
Thankfully, with a passenger at imminent risk of an unplanned laundry-type disaster aboard, the ride is an excellent blend of control and comfort.
Even when I tried sitting in the slightly claustrophobic back seats, at no point did I feel unwell.
There’s plenty of poke on offer from the 3.5-litre V6 and electric motor combo. You notice this when you need to blast up a motorway sliproad into a safe space or pull smartly away from traffic lights.
It’s a high-end, high-price vehicle but it’s a Lexus – you didn’t need to be told that, did you? Any Lexus is aimed at the sort of family who shop at Waitrose day in, day out and might indulge in that weird pastime where you knock a little white ball into holes with a very expensive stick. These are not people who regularly worry about utility bills.
There are three trim and spec levels – SE, Luxury (likely to be the biggest UK seller) and Premium. Premium factors in the OMG Mark Levinson stereo system – worth buying a Lexus, any Lexus, for that alone. Prices start at £50,995 through to £61,995 for the knobs and whistles version.