Spreading the love
WHAT? A LEXUS WITH A DIESEL ENGINE? YOU BET!
LEXUS said it would never make a diesel given a diesel engine’s refinement, or lack thereof, is at odds with the Lexus pursuit of ultimate perfection.
But that was then and now a Lexus with a diesel engine is a reality in the form of this LX450D, with Lexus looking to extend its footprint into the large prestige 4x4 market.
In creating the LX450D, Lexus has taken its already well-established (launched in 2008 and facelifted in 2015) LX570 and swapped its 5.7-litre petrol V8 and eight-speed powertrain for the 4.5-litre twin-turbo diesel V8 and six-speed powertrain of the LC200.
Then Lexus has stripped out the third-row seating, secondary 45-litre fuel tank and some of the petrol-powered 570’s luxury equipment (see ‘What you Get’ sidebar). The 450d’s price tag has also been stripped back $9K from the LX570, which is some recompense.
POWERTRAIN AND PERFORMANCE
THE FAMILIAR 4.5-litre twin-turbo V8 diesel from the LC200 claims a 200kw maximum and, while peak torque also remains unchanged from the LC200’S 650Nm, it’s available over a slightly wider rpm range.
Most obvious in the driving is the fact that the big 4.5-litre V8 diesel is much quieter, smoother and more refined in the LX than it is in the latest LC200.
Driven in isolation the LX450D hardly sounds diesel-like at all such is its generally quiet and civil nature, but jump into the QX80, or more so the LX570, and you realise it’s still well short of petrol-engine refinement.
Nor can the LX450D match the performance of the two petrol V8s once they get into their stride; although, in general cut-and-thrust driving, it gives nothing away thanks to the fact that it makes more power at lower engine speeds than the petrol V8s.
What’s more, it does the same job with generally less revs onboard and doesn’t call for a lower gearbox ratio as quickly as the petrol V8s when asked to do some work. The fact that it has less ratios to play with also means less gear changes in general driving.
ON-ROAD RIDE AND HANDLING
THE LX450D shares the suspension of the LX570 (see ‘Bespoke Suspension’ LX570 sidebar), which means adaptive, interlinked and tuneable damping, variable front spring rate, and hydraulic ride-height control. While there is no
KDSS, the general chassis layout with its ladder frame, live rear axle and independent front is based on the Toyota Land Cruiser 200.
Thanks to its sophisticated damping system, the chassis’s response in roll, pitch, ride and steering can be adjusted via the Drive Mode settings’ centreconsole dial, which also alters the powertrain’s response. There are five settings (Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport, and Sport+) where sharpening up the chassis also sharpens up the powertrain response.via the dial the driver can also access a preprogrammed Custom setting, where any chassis setting can be matched to any powertrain setting.
If all this sounds complicated it’s still easy enough to use and, either way, the Custom mode is its saving grace even if it may have been easier just to have separate dials for the chassis and powertrain in the first place.
The 450d, like the LX570, also has variable-rate springing at the front achieved via having the front dampers linked to gas reservoirs, which allows the front suspension to automatically soften up if it suddenly encounters a severe bump in the road.
The LX450D certainly rides smoothly enough, even on its 20s, and offers good body control in terms of roll and pitch. But it’s not as stable on a fast bumpy road as the QX80; although, this may be more to do with its live rear axle than the effectiveness of its adaptive suspension.
THE Lx450d’s height-adjustable suspension, shared with the LX570, gives a 50mm lift at the front and 60mm lift at the rear when low-range is selected, or selected directly by the driver. In addition, the suspension will automatically lift another 20mm if the vehicle grounds out while in Crawl mode.
The extra height is most welcome given the LX body compromises the approach and departure angles over an LC200.
The height-adjustable suspension is certainly the difference between the two LXS and the QX80 off-road, and both LXS will go where the Infinti won’t.
Plenty of wheel travel also helps the LX; although, like the LX570, the 4x4 system driver interface could be simpler.
CABIN, ACCOMMODATION AND SAFETY
THE LX450D is only a five-seater, which could be a deal-breaker for some buyers. The upside is there’s a useful increase in luggage space without the third row seats. As with the 570, the rear seat isn’t as wide as the QX80’S.
The 450d is beautifully detailed and finished inside and more than comfy up front, but misses out on some of the luxury kit of the LX570 and even the LC200 Sahara diesel for that matter (see ‘What you Get’ sidebar). Like the other
vehicles here the LX450D hasn’t been ANCAP tested, but that doesn’t mean it’s not loaded with safety kit.
THE 450d’s relatively modest fuel consumption (13.8L/100km on test) sets it apart from the two thirsty petrol V8s here. For every two litres of diesel it consumes, the petrol V8s get through nearly three litres of unleaded. The downside is that the 450d has 45 litres less fuel capacity than the LX570 and seven litres less than the QX80. So while it still comfortably betters the Infiniti for range, it doesn’t offer a range advantage over the LX570.
Another practical note (not that Lexus would recommend it) is that the 18-inch wheels from a LC200 will fit, which gives a much wider choice in more practical tyres.